Saturday, March 30, 2013

THE RIVER AND THE TREE OF LIFE (Post #31)


Please note that the thoughts in this post on Revelation 22 build directly on the information from the previous post on Revelation 21.  John did not have a chapter break.

The next thing that catches John’s attention is a “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.”  On either side of the river is the tree of life that produces twelve different fruits.  It either produces a different fruit each month or a new supply of all twelve fruits each month.  The leaves of the tree are for the “healing” of the nations.  This didn’t make sense in light of the perfection that will characterize our surroundings, so I looked at the Greek, and it includes a reference to adoration and worship.  That makes me think that we will use them in some way to honor God.  The next verse actually emphasizes that there will be no more curse and that His servants will serve Him (in reference to both God and the Lamb).

John then reveals that we, His servants, will be able to see His face—without danger, with intimacy.  We will proudly have His name etched in some way in our foreheads.  This reminds me of the seal of the 144,000.

Revelation 7:3–4 “Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.”

Revelation 14:1 “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.”

In verse six the angel tells John that this revelation has been given him to show God’s servants the things that they can expect to happen “shortly,” in a fixed place in time.  Point is made that everything he has been shown is true and will be fulfilled.  I am reminded again of the unchanging character of God.  He always prepares His people and tells them what to expect in light of coming judgment.

Jesus suddenly speaks up and declares that He is coming “quickly”—shortly, i.e. without delay, soon, or (by surprise) suddenly.  The Greek gives a full understanding according to scripture.  He is coming soon according to God’s reckoning of time, and He will come suddenly by surprise.

2 Peter 3:8 “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

Revelation 3:3 “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”

With the reminder of His soon return, the Lord declares that those who keep or hold fast to the “sayings of the prophecy of this book” will be blessed.  This is a powerful rebuke to those that declare the study of prophecy to be unimportant and a waste of time.  Sadly, there are many recognized leaders in the church today who hold that view.  Whatever their motive, it is self-serving and/or in disobedience to the will of God for His people. 

Right after recording the words of Jesus, John immediately confirms that He witnessed all that He recorded.  The voice of Jesus prompted John to fall down in a position of worship before his angelic guide.  As every true servant of God should always do, he quickly rebukes John; he identifies himself as a fellowservant, a prophet of God and one who also holds fast to the truth revealed in this book.  Though it can be confusing at times, we must remember that the word for “angel” simply means “messenger.”  It would seem that there is a likelihood that some of God’s prophets will get to participate in the events about which they prophesied; this angel was originally identified as one that had poured out one of the seven vials of judgment.  The angel then rightly declares that our worship is to be directed to God.  There are many pastors and leaders in the church today that need to be reminded of that truth.

Unlike Daniel, whose message was directed towards those who would live at the time of the end, John is told not to seal the message of this book; its truth is applicable even now—at the time John received it (around 90 AD).

Verse 11 is a hard verse.

Revelation 22:11 “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”

I think it is a statement of man’s free will.  Those who have chosen to be unjust and filthy have that choice; those who have chosen to be righteous and holy also have that choice.  It could, however, be a statement of the finality and eternal condition resulting from the choices of men as revealed to John.

Once again John hears Jesus declare that He is coming quickly to reward every person according to his/her works.  Once again Jesus declares Himself to be the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” 

John begins to close the book with a reminder that to “do” the will of God gives proof to our position in Christ, one who has the right to partake of the fruit of the tree of life and enter the gates of the New Jerusalem.  This takes us back to the Garden of Eden.  I am reminded that it was only the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that was forbidden to Adam and Eve.  It was after they disobeyed God and died spiritually that they were sent out of the garden and no longer allowed access to the tree of life.  It seems that the fruit of this tree is only intended for the consumption of those who are indwelt by the Spirit of God.

(to be continued…)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

THE NEW JERUSALEM, THE BRIDE, THE LAMB’S WIFE (Post #30)


In this post we continue our study of Revelation 21.  The last post ended with a vision of the new Jerusalem descending from heaven contrasted with the truth that those who had rejected the authority and provision of God in Jesus would suffer in the lake of fire.

John then records that one of the angels that had released one of the vial judgments called him over to see the Lamb’s wife.  Point is made that John is carried away in the spirit to a great high mountain to be shown the new Jerusalem descending from heaven; he needed to be closer to appreciate the details.  It is interesting to note that in the beginning of the chapter the city is described as a bride adorned for her husband, but in this section point is made that she is “the Wife of the Lamb.” 

Once again, I am seeing this section with new eyes.  We have entered eternity.  I am not sure the distinction between believers of different times or dispensations in the working of God are any longer valid.  In fact, the description of the city honors both Old Testament and New Testament servants of God; and the last verse in this chapter informs us that all may enter “whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” 

John declares that the city shines with the glory of God—a glory described later in the chapter as negating the need of the sun or moon within its confines.  The brilliance of her shining is compared to a crystal clear diamond.  This brilliance is the full revelation of the Shekinah glory of God and the Lamb and will be all the light that is needed.

The walls of the city are very high and have 12 gates or entry points that are attended by 12 angels.  Three gates are designated on each of the four sides of the city facing east, north, south and west respectively. Each of the 12 gates is named for one of the tribes of Israel, or each gate is inscribed with the names of all 12 tribes.  I tend to think that they will be individually named since that will be the case of the walls around Jerusalem in the millennial kingdom as revealed by Ezekiel and possibly in accordance with the same designation.

Ezekiel 48:31–34 “And the gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward; one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, one gate of Levi. And at the east side…one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan. And at the south… one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun. At the west side…one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate of Naphtali.”

John also describes the wall of the city as being built on twelve foundations.  Each foundation is named for one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, or each foundation is inscribed with the names of all twelve apostles.  Again, I would tend to think that each foundation will be individually named as well.  Is the 12th apostle being referenced Paul or Matthias?  Sentiment goes with Paul; he, however, refers to “the twelve” in his letter to the Corinthians, which at that time included Matthias.  Only the future will reveal the truth.

1 Corinthians 15:3–5 “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve….”

John next clarifies that the city is four-square, a cube that measures the same in length and width and height—a distance of 12,000 furlongs or 1500 miles each.  The thickness of the wall measures 144 cubits, or approximately 216 feet.  This the record of actual measurements made by the angel as witnessed by John. 

John also reveals the materials used in constructing the city.  The walls are made of diamond and the city itself of pure, transparent gold that looks like glass.  Each of the twelve foundations of the city are adorned with precious stones (some of which we are unsure of their reference)—the first with diamond, the second with sapphire, the third with chalcedony, the fourth with emerald, the fifth with sardonyx, the sixth with sardius, the seventh with chrysolite, the eighth with beryl, the ninth with topaz, the tenth with chrysoprasus, the eleventh with jacinth and the twelfth with amethyst.  Each of the 12 gates is made of a single pearl, and the street of the city is of pure, transparent gold.

The next revelation is that the new Jerusalem will have no temple.  This is a first; it emphasizes the truth that God will be dwelling among His people with unrestrained personal access.  The temple on earth always represented the place of God’s presence among His people.  In eternity the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb comprise the temple—omnipresent among His people and anticipating our every desire as we love and serve Him for eternity.

Revelation 21:24–27 “And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.  And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

As this chapter comes to a close, we are told that the nations of them that are saved will walk in the light of the city.  That includes everyone whose name was found written in the Lamb’s book of life.  It implies to me that the new earth will be the primary dwelling place of man for eternity, but that we will be free to come and go as well please in fellowship, worship and service to the Lord.  The gates will never be closed and there will be no night.  The reference to the kings of the earth implies to me that there will be a governing hierarchy, possibly related to heavenly rewards.

I think emphasis is made that nothing that defiles, works abomination or makes a lie will be allowed to enter it because that was what ruined the original creation.  Our Father does not want us thinking that there is even a possibility that could happen again.

(to be continued…)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

THE COMING OF THE NEW JERUSALEM (Post #29)


In this post we continue to discover the blessings awaiting those who are “joint-heirs” with Christ Jesus as revealed in Revelation 21.

After seeing the emergence of the new heaven and new earth, John is now given a vision of the new Jerusalem. 

Revelation 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.”

I can’t help but think of a section in Hebrews. 

Hebrews 11:8–16 “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God…. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth….But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”

The New Jerusalem is the city God prepared for them—and for all those who have placed their faith in Him.  John describes the city as looking as beautiful as a bride adorned for her husband.  Finally, the creation of God will enjoy the blessing of true fellowship with God rooted in a relationship of unconditional love.  His people will finally understand and completely embrace the truth that God’s way is the best and His will an expression of His love.  Then he reveals a precious promise.

Revelation 21:4 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

All of these things are associated with the curse connected to sin.  Sin and the curse are things of the past, a part of the old heaven and earth.  The new creation is fresh—as things were before pride, rebellion, or sin entered the picture.  All those who enter this new creation have already “passed the test” so to speak. They have chosen of their own free will to follow and serve God; they are new creations in Christ Jesus. They will never suffer temptation or testing again.  They only have to look forward to sweet fellowship with their Creator, their Father, their Savior.

John then hears Jesus declare that He has made all things new, and He instructs John to make a written record of this truth.  Jesus then declares that John has seen a vision of the culmination of God’s plan—It is done!  He declares Himself to be the “Alpha and Omega”—the beginning and the ending, the originating Source and the One who brings things to fulfillment, the One in whom we have our being. 

Jesus follows this statement with a declaration that He is the Source of the water of life and freely gives to all who thirst.  I think this statement is directly connected to the truth He told the Samaritan woman at the well.

John 4:14 “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

His next statement:  “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”  We learned about the overcomer in chapters two and three as He addressed His letters to the churches.  The overcomer is one who listens to and heeds (acts on or lives according to) the message of God’s truth.  John explained this clearly in his first epistle.

1 John 5:3–4 “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

1 John 2:15–17 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

It is our faith in God that equips us to overcome the world, all that is associated with sin—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.  As overcomers, we get to enjoy God’s blessings as part of His family.

Sadly, there is a contrasting truth.  There will be those that chose the ways of the world and rejected the authority and salvation of God in Jesus.

Revelation 21:8 “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

I think it is significant that the first two identifying characteristics of those who are condemned for eternity are “fearful and unbelieving.”  The Greek makes a reference to being “faithless and disbelieving.”  All the other sins we consider heinous (or at least used to) follow after those two because they are actually rooted in one’s rejection of God.  No matter how often or how boldly the Rob Bell’s of this world deny its reality; those who reject the provision of God in Jesus will have their part in hell—“the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.”

(to be continued…)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

THE NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH – THE WONDERFUL ETERNAL HEREAFTER (Post #28)

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We are now ready for Revelation 21 and given a glimpse into the eternal hereafter.

Revelation 21:1 “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.”

The Greek defines “new” as referencing something “fresh”; Kenneth Wuest translates it like this:  …a heaven new in quality and an earth new in quality….”

I think this understanding is supported in other sections of scripture.

Isaiah 51:6 “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.”

Hebrews 1:10–12 “And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.”

Paul adds more food for thought.

Colossians 1:17 “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”  [“He” being Jesus.]

Maybe this is a reference to His letting go for a moment only to speak the word to bring it back together as a “new” creation.  I found an article by Lambert Dolphin who reasons it as follows.

The nucleus of the atom contains positively charged and neutral particles-to use a simplistic model. Mutual electrostatic repulsion between the like-positive protons would drive the nucleus apart if it were not for the "strong force" which binds the nucleus together….Similarly, accelerated electrons circling the nucleus should quickly radiate all their energy away and fall into the nucleus unless there exists an invisible energy source to counteract this.
The third New Testament creation-related passage which talks about atomic structure and physics is found in the Apostle Peter's Second Epistle:  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise [rhoizedon, a rushing roar] and the elements [stoicheion, atoms] will be dissolved with fire and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10)  The Greek word translated "elements" in the above- mentioned passage from Colossians (and in 2 Peter also) is stoicheion, which can mean "the building blocks of the universe," or "the ordered arrangement of things." It can also mean the "atomic elements." The word translated "dissolved" in 2 Peter 3:10 is literally (in Greek) luo, meaning "unloosed." This language suggests that there will come a time in the future when God lets go of the nuclear forces which hold the atom together. This passage, like the one in Colossians, strongly suggests that the active power of God is behind the mysterious strong force that holds every atomic nucleus together. If this is so, all the other fundamental forces of nature are likewise forces that originate with Christ and His sustaining direction of the old creation.
If God "sustains the universe by His mighty word of power," moment by moment, were He to merely relax His grasp on the universe, every atom would come apart "by fire" (that is, by nuclear fire). It is inescapable that the Bible claims that God dynamically sustains the universe, including the very atoms themselves. Atoms, it would seem, are "stable" only because force and energy are being supplied into their physical nuclear binding fields from "outside" the system.
[end excerpt]

In light of the above, I think it is interesting to note that “earth and the heaven fled away” from the great white throne and then suddenly appear as a new heaven and new earth after that judgment has taken place.

John also tells us that there will be no more sea—a reference to the salt waters.  I think this is probably because fresh waters will be all that is needed for environment of the new earth.  I would assume that earth will once again be characterized by Eden-like conditions and that man will enjoy the bounty of its provision in the same way as Adam and Eve did before they chose to sin.  Everything in the new creation will be for the benefit of man just as it was in Eden in the beginning.

(to be continued…)

Monday, March 18, 2013

THE MILLENNIUM AND THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT (Post #27)

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In this post I will pick up once again in Revelation 20.  The last post ended with Satan being cast into the bottomless pit where his ability to deceive the nations is prohibited for 1000 years.  During that 1000 years, popularly known as the millennium, Jesus will reign over the nations from the throne of David in Jerusalem.  Jesus will govern in righteousness and will be immune to the influences that resulted in the corrupt governments of the nations throughout history.   Those who had been beheaded and died as martyrs for their testimony of Jesus and the truth of God’s word during the tribulation will be given positions of authority in the millennial kingdom.  The rest of the dead, however, will not be resurrected until the end of the 1000 years.

John records that the resurrection of the tribulation saints will complete the first resurrection.  This tells me that everyone who accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior during the millennial kingdom will experience the same transformation to immortality that the raptured saints experienced prior to the tribulation.

John then goes on to reveal that all those who have been a part of the first resurrection (Old Testament saints, church age saints and tribulation saints) will be “priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”

We can’t all be on thrones, but we will all be in positions of service and leadership in the millennial kingdom it would appear.  It would seem to me that as part of a “royal priesthood,” we would serve in positions of spiritual leadership as opposed to the governmental leadership delegated to the tribulation saints.

It would be easy to get side-tracked from Revelation to study what scripture reveals concerning the millennium, but I won’t.  I will summarize and say that scripture declares it to be a time of enforced peace in which the promises to Abraham and David find complete fulfillment.  The curse on creation will be mitigated to the point that the wolf will lie down with the lamb, the calf with the lion, and children will not even have to fear the bite of a snake. 

Isaiah 2:3–4 “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Isaiah 11:6–9 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

At this point John reveals one of the most amazing prophecies of all.

Revelation 20:7–8 “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.”

God will release Satan for a short time.  I believe it will be a time of proving for all those that have professed allegiance to the Lord similar to that referenced by Moses in Deuteronomy. 

Deuteronomy 13:1–3 “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Incredibly, in spite of 1000 years of experiencing life in a peaceful and prosperous kingdom, Satan will be able to gather an army “the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.”  As soon as they are positioned for battle outside the city of Jerusalem, God will destroy them with fire from heaven.  Satan will then be cast into the lake of fire to suffer eternal torment with the beast and false prophet. 

John then sees the great white throne of judgment positioned in a dimension outside the confines of our universe.   ALL the “dead,” those who have had no part in the first resurrection and have rejected life in Jesus, are gathered together before the throne to await judgment according to his works as recorded in heaven in “the books” and the record of “the book of life.”  Twice John records that these people are judged according to their works, and scripture reveals that will result in eternal condemnation.

John 6:28–29 “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

John 3:17–18 “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

2 Thessalonians 1:7–9 “… the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power….”

Small comfort though it be to those eternally damned, there does seem to be an indication that there are different levels of eternal punishment just as there will be different levels of reward for the believers.

Matthew 11:21–24 “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”  (Though the reference is to the cities, it is obvious that the message is intended for the people of those cities.)

1 Corinthians 3:11–15 “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

Matthew 6:19–20 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal….”

This chapter closes with death and hell being consumed by the lake of fire and all those not found in the Book of Life cast into it as well.  Point is made that this lake of fire had not been intended for man; it had been created for the devil and his angels, those who first brought sin into God’s creation.

Matthew 25:41 “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels….”

By choosing to follow Satan as Lord, men essentially chose to share his eternal destiny.

(to be continued…)

Friday, March 15, 2013

THE REALITY OF THE LAKE OF FIRE AND LYING WONDERS (Post #26)


I will pick up in this post where I left off in Revelation 19 and continue through the first part of chapter 20.  Jesus has just been revealed in the heavens returning to earth leading a mighty army—a great host that I believe I will be among.

1 Thessalonians 3:12–13 “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”

Jude 1:14–15 “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”  (The Greek references a “myriad” or indefinite number.)

John next sees an angel standing in the sun (an amazing picture in my mind) sending out a call to all the carnivorous birds to come to a great feast that the Lord is preparing for them that will consist of kings, captains, mighty men, and horses and their riders—the armies of the Antichrist that are gathered to make war against Jesus.  This invitation seems directly connected to that foretold by Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 39:17–20 “And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord GOD.”

I think it is significant to note that no record is made of actual conflict.  I couldn’t help but think how John described the armies of heaven as being dressed in “fine linen, white and clean,” and I think that is how they remain.  They are not required to fight, but only to witness the Lord’s great victory. 

The next thing we read is that the beast and the false prophet are cast alive into the “lake of fire burning with brimstone.”  All Jesus has to do is speak the word to achieve victory.  At His word the armies of the Antichrist will fall dead to provide the great feast for the birds.

John again makes the point that it is the false prophet that is responsible for deceiving those that had taken the mark of the beast and worshipped his image with the miracles he was able to perform.  I think that this is a truth that many in the church today tend to ignore.  The prevalent school of thought today is that “seeing is believing.”  Satan and his forces are well aware of that weakness as a point of attack to deceive people and move forward their agenda.  Scripture is everywhere clear that our fight is against spiritual forces that can perform miracles and lying wonders.

Deuteronomy 13:1–3 “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 

Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

2 Thessalonians 2:7–10 “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.  And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

2 Corinthians 11:13–15 “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

Note that Paul was very clear in telling the Thessalonians that the mystery of iniquity was already at work in their day.  I believe that these works will continue to manifest themselves more openly as the time for the end approaches.  No one knows the day or hour of the return of Jesus, but we are certainly expected to understand the time of its approach.  Personally, I think Satan has an even greater understanding than we do.

Hebrews 10:24–25 “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Next John sees another angel coming down from heaven carrying a great chain and the key to the bottomless pit.  He takes hold of Satan, binds him with the chain and shuts him up in the bottomless pit for a thousand years.  All Jesus has to do is speak the word to bind Satan, but He provides a vision for John to relate that speaks to human understanding.

If you remember in our study of chapter nine, an angel was given a key to the bottomless pit; here again an angel emerges from heaven with a key to the pit.  The One in control of the key is obviously the One in control of heaven—and the rest of creation—God.  He is delegating use of the key in accordance with the fulfillment of His purposes.

A special seal is put upon Satan that prevents him from deceiving the nations during that time.  I think that might be a reference to restraining the activity of his demonic forces.  

(to be continued…)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

THE RETURN OF THE KING OF KINGS (Post #25)

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This post continues in chapter 19 of Revelation and continues to build on the previous posts in this series.  We have finally reached the point when Jesus breaks through the heavens in His glorious return to earth.

John sees Jesus come through an opening in the heavens astride a white horse.  Point is made that He is coming to judge and make war in righteousness—for all the morally correct reasons that He embodies as God.  Who is He coming to judge and make war?  All those that have rejected Him and aligned themselves with Satan—the original sinner, the father of lies and great deceiver.  

Jesus is called “Faithful and True.”  Those titles declare that He is trustworthy and completely transparent (from the Greek) as He comes forth to exercise judgment according to the will of the Father.

John 5:22-30 “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father….For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man….I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”

As John continues to describe the returning King, John compares His eyes to a flame of fire; He is angry with righteous anger.  John also notes that He is wearing a wreath of many crowns and displays a name that only He knows—a special name between Father and Son.  I think it is significant to note that John describes Jesus as wearing a garment that is stained with blood, but the armies accompanying Him are dressed in white.  He is wearing this garment as He appears in the heavens, and, I think, represents His own shed blood as well as the blood of all those who died martyrs for their faith in Him.  The prophet Isaiah adds a bit more information.  Jesus is the sole source of our deliverance.

Isaiah 63:1–3 “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.”

This causes me to believe that Jesus indeed goes first to Bozrah to deliver the believing remnant who have been under His protection there for the last 3.5 years of the tribulation before proceeding on to the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem to face the armies of Satan and Antichrist.  John also points out that the name of Jesus is “The Word of God.”  He is God in flesh—fully God and fully man.

John 1:1&14 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Along with blazing eyes, John sees a sharp sword coming from His mouth; and scripture tells us that this is a reference to His word.

Ephesians 6:17 “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God….”

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

The only weapon that the Lord will need to use is His spoken word.  That He is treading the winepress of God indicates a judgment of intense and fierce passion, punishment and vengeance on the part of Almighty God—the absolute and universal sovereign, the Omnipotent.  There will certainly be no atheists in that day!

The fact that John declares that Jesus will rule the nations with a rod of iron implies that there will be those that survive this final battle.  The Greek for the word “rule” states to “tend as a shepherd.”  The shepherd’s rod was used to control the entry to the sheepfold for the purpose of counting, examining, and protecting the sheep.  The fact that it is a rod of iron indicates that He will be in total control.  He will identify and protect His own—His sheep.  Only those that belong to Him will be allowed to enter His kingdom.  I think this is what Jesus is referencing as recorded by Matthew.

Matthew 25:31–34 “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world….”

John then finishes his description by telling us the garment Jesus is wearing is engraved or emblazoned with His name—KING of kings and LORD of lords.  I think that is self-explanatory. 

(to be continued…)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB (Post #24)

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In this post I will be commenting on Revelation 19.  This chapter opens with a great worship and praise service in heaven in light of the destruction of Babylon—a consequence of her evil influence on man throughout millennia through the deceptions of the false religions she birthed.

Revelation 19:1–2 “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.”

God has avenged the death of those that had died as martyrs because of their faith in Him.  Then John hears a voice emanating from the throne that encourages ALL God’s servants, those that fear Him, to praise Him because it is time for the public ceremony of the marriage of the Lamb; the bride is prepared and waiting to be revealed.  Point is made that she has been granted ("given and received" from the Greek) the privilege of being robed in fine, clean, white linen—evidence of the righteousness bestowed by Jesus upon all believers.  I can’t help but be reminded of the words of Isaiah, the encouragement given in the letters to the churches and the vision of the raptured believers before the throne.

Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

Revelation 3:5, 18 “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels….I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”

Revelation 7:9 “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands….”

I believe the scripture teaches that the bride of Christ is specific to the body of believers that comprise the church, those that came to saving faith in Jesus during the time between the resurrection of Jesus and the rapture of the saints.

Ephesians 5:23–32 “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. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 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. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 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. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

I therefore conclude that all those invited to the marriage supper are the Old Testament saints and the tribulation saints.  John seems to be overwhelmed by the revelation at this point, so he falls in worship before the messenger.  That is one of the weaknesses of believers in the church today; we tend to mix up the messenger with the message and the One the message proclaims.  The angel is quick to correct John and instruct him to worship God.  Oh that those in leadership in our churches today would do the same!

As I close this post, I thought it would be interesting to note some of the prophetic insights we can glean from the Jewish wedding ceremony. 

The Father chooses the bride.
John 6:37 “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

The bride accepts and loves the groom.
John 16:27 “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.”

The law requires a bride price that is paid by the Father and reflects the value of the bride.
1 Corinthians 6:20 “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

After the betrothal, the Groom goes to prepare a home for His bride.
John 14:2–3 “….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 unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

The Father determines when the Groom is to take His bride.
Matthew 24:36–37 “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

The bride anticipates the coming of her Groom.
Titus 2:12–13 “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ….”

The wedding feast provides a time for close family and friends to celebrate the marriage as pictured in this chapter of Revelation.

(to be continued…)