Archive for : December, 2017

Revelation 22

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” “Revelation is focused on the churches in Asia who were about to experience or enter a crisis of faith challenging their faithfulness to God and Jesus. The context is the oppression at the hands of the Jewish Synagogue, their pagan neighbors, and the Imperial Cult of the Roman Empire. The message to the churches was to not compromise their faith by confessing that Caesar is Lord, that is, a divine being or god! The theology of Revelation is about suffering faithfully through persecution and difficulties in the knowledge that God is in control, that in Jesus he has provided us the victory over Satan and sin, and that he has prepared a home for us in heaven as a reward for our faithfulness. The overall story or theology of Revelation is about conquering Satan through faith in Jesus. · It is about Victory in Christ!” (Fair, Ian) “Revelation is one of the most relevant books for the living out of the Christian faith today, not only because of its emphasis on the necessity of faithful witness, but also because of how it encourages faithfulness in the midst of horrific circumstances!” (Gregory Stevenson)
I have enjoyed our journey together the past year! God Bless!

Revelation 21

What is promised those who are faithful and have overcome will be truly amazing! We will be removed from this life of pain, sorrow,and death! Satan will no longer be around to torment God’s people. Everything will be NEW! John is saying, it’s like this, but much, much more! The new heaven and new earth will be new in a new way; newness itself will be renewed, so that instead of a mere transition within ongoing human life, what God has planned will be the renewal of all things. The people of God are going to be provided for and protected by Him. They are the ”overcomers.” Overcoming is a key thought. It is seen at the end of every letter to the seven churches. In Rev. 12 the saint overcame . . . by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. In the end, those who overcome will inherit all this! The image of Jerusalem conveyed it was the dwelling for all God’s people, with the 12 gates of Israel and the 12 apostles as it’s foundation. This is our true home!

Revelation 20

In our reading we see the victory of those who were under the altar and had died for their faithfulness. We also see The End – the last spiritual battle, the last day of Satan’s power, and the last day anyone will dwell on the earth! It very important to note, in this text the ‘souls’ of those who were beheaded came to life and reigned with Jesus. Where are they reigning? They are reigning where Jesus has His throne – in this book that throne has always been in heaven. What are they doing? They are now reigning with Jesus in heaven – they are victorious! No where in this text does it even remotely mention an earthly reign. The imagery, including the 1,000 years gets across a concept of victory – not a period of time! These souls are the souls we saw in chapter 6 – the question they asked then has now been answered! They have been ‘beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.’ The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seem to have died, and their departure was thought to be an affliction, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.

Revelation 19

Our reading is a glorious victory party! In the dark days when the saints were suffering and dying for their faith at the hands of Rome, our Lord’s message was “be patient and remain faithful, in the end you will win!” See, the rider on the horse, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is truly running things so we need not worry! For He destroyed the beast and those who have worshipped the beast (Rome) and offers their flesh to the birds of the sky as a terrible feast. The birds gorge on their flesh. Note the contrast and irony of the two feasts, one the messianic banquet which the faithful saints enjoy, the other the feast of the vultures on the flesh of the unfaithful worshippers of the beast! The birds gorge on this flesh in a horrible scene! So great and terrifying is God’s judgment on Rome. The point is, Do you want to enjoy the messianic banquet of Jesus, or be the feast of the vultures?
Merry Christmas!

Revelation 18

In our reading the cry of the saints from chapter 6 is answered and the one left standing is not Rome, but the saints. Thus, the theme of the book- remain faithful no matter the cost and in the end you win! Babylon(Rome) with all it’s power and wealth has fallen never to rise again. I am sure that those in John’s day could never envision the massive empire of Rome would ever fall, but it did. God in fact was the one that orchestrated the whole thing! Yes, from time to time we will suffer blows from the dragon and his agents but in the end we will be the ones on the thrones! ““Rejoice over her, you heavens! Rejoice, you people of God! Rejoice, apostles and prophets! For God has judged her with the judgment she imposed on you.”

Reflections

Today is a day to reflect over our readings. I don’t think you can read Revelation and not be struck by this spiritual battle we are in each and every day! Oh, we are told over and over again in scripture that we are in mist of this on going spiritual battle but that battle comes alive when we see the imagery of Revelation. I believe one of things this book does is that it strips away all the glitter and paint and exposes the true nature of Satan and his agents. Rome with all it’s power, wealth, and comforts was a very seductive, but our readings are showing us the true nature of that culture. It is no different today, much of what is being exposed today is showing us the evil underbelly of all the glitter and glamour that is sold to us day in and day out in the media!

Reflections to consider

When he walked this earth, Jesus was “translating” God all the time. When God got louder, Jesus got louder. When God gestured, Jesus gestured. He was so in sync with the Father that he could declare, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14: 11 NRSV). It was as if he heard a voice others were missing. I witnessed something similar to this on an airplane once. I kept hearing outbursts of laughter. The flight was turbulent and bumpy, hardly a reason for humor. But some fellow behind me was cracking up. No one else, just him. Finally I turned to see what was so funny. He was wearing headphones and apparently listening to a comedian. Because he could hear what I couldn’t, he acted differently than I did. The same was true with Jesus. Because he could hear what others couldn’t, he acted differently than they did. Remember when everyone was troubled about the man born blind? Jesus wasn’t. Somehow he knew that the blindness would reveal God’s power (John 9: 3). Remember when everyone was distraught about Lazarus’s illness? Jesus wasn’t. Rather than hurry to his friend’s bedside, he said, “This sickness will not end in death. It is for the glory of God, to bring glory to the son of God” (John 11: 4). It was as if Jesus could hear what no one else could. How could a relationship be more intimate? Jesus had unbroken communion with his Father. Do you suppose the Father desires the same for us? Absolutely. Paul says we have been “predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8: 29 NRSV). (Just Like Jesus:A Heart Like His)

Revelation 17

In our reading it is revealed that the beast is the great city that rules over the earth – Rome! A great harlot who seduces people to worship the beast from the sea. Rome is intoxicated by its power and ability to seduce people and make war on and kill the saints. The Harlot is Rome viewed form her commercial and seductive standpoint. Yet, we are reminded a number times that God is in control of it all. Don’t forget, there was a period of time that God allowed Rome (the beast) and the dragon (Satan) to inflict suffering on the saints, but in God’s time He will bring judgement and balance the scales! It true then, it is true today!!

Revelation 16

Our reading reminds us of the of the judgement and plagues that God brought upon Egypt. The image that God will inflict seven plagues (judgments) on them for their sins is classic O.T. imagery – that God’s judgment will be complete! We remind ourselves yet once more that this is deeply and powerfully symbolic language. This is obvious when it comes to angels pouring out bowls of wrath. Just as God previously acted in faithfulness by bring justice to bear on Egypt and Babylon, He will do the same with Rome! Did you note in the reading of the voices that responded to God’s wrath from the altar? Those are the martyrs from chapter six and their question to God is now being answered!

Revelation 15

Our reading declares in very clear terms, judgement is coming! It is judgement eve! The question asked by the Saints who were martyred is about to be answered. “They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?””
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭6:10‬ ‭They are now victorious because they in fact had a hand in defeating the beast, because they remained faithful until death! The seven angels had been with God in the temple and they are now ready to bring His judgement on the beast (Rome). Just when the days are darkest and it looks like evil has won, God brings forth His salvation and victory!

Revelation 14

Our reading declares;”Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” Babylon, the capital of the great empire that swallowed up the remaining Israelite tribes in 597 BC, was the city that remained ever after in the Jewish memory as the city that was cruel, wicked, and persecuted God’s people. Anyone who knows anything about the book of Revelation knows that “Babylon” is used as a symbol later in the book, in chapters 16, 17 and 18, for Rome. Don’t forget this letter was written to Christians in John’s day and there is a clear warning in this text! Those who worship the beast and his image and succumb to the pressure – NO REST! Those who patiently endure and remain faithful no matter the pressures – They will rest! 

Revelation 13

In our reading the two beasts in this chapter are the agents of Satan to persecute the saints. The text draws from the imagery of Daniel of these ruling powers. There would have been no question in the minds of John’s readers in his day who these two beasts represent – the civil and religious powers of Rome who were making war against the Christians. Why do the faithful suffer injustice and opposition? John declares it is because they are at war. Satan has declared war on those who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Revelation thus redefines the world as a battlefield and Christian existence as warfare. One reason why the world does not look as it should is because there is a war going on – and Christians are caught in the middle of it. The imagery of the 42 months portrays the concept that the present persecution they were suffering would only last for a period of time, but even if we are not experiencing the same kind of persecution they were, we are still in a war with the dragon!

Reflections

Today is a day to reflect over our readings. What I am always struck with is the drama portrayed in the book of Revelation. It just reminds me again and again how Satan is all about bring chaos, strife, and drama into the world. As long as the world is being lead astray by him, the nightly news will always be bad and things will be upside down! Yet, we can rejoice for this is not our home and our peace exists in the security and love of our Lord. Oh, Satan is after us and his agents can make life very difficult, in fact as our readings reminds us they can take our life, but no matter what we have to face if we remain faithful to the end, we win!! “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Reflections to consider

It’s a wonderful day indeed when we stop working for God and begin working with God. (Go ahead, read the sentence again.) For years I viewed God as a compassionate CEO and my role as a loyal sales representative. He had his office, and I had my territory. I could contact him as much as I wanted. He was always a phone or fax away. He encouraged me, rallied behind me, and supported me, but he didn’t go with me. At least I didn’t think he did. Then I read 2 Corinthians 6: 1: We are “God’s fellow workers” (NIV). Fellow workers? Co-laborers? God and I work together? Imagine the paradigm shift this truth creates. Rather than report to God, we work with God. Rather than check in with him and then leave, we check in with him and then follow. We are always in the presence of God. We never leave church. There is never a nonsacred moment! His presence never diminishes. Our awareness of his presence may falter, but the reality of his presence never changes. (“Just Like Jesus: A Heart Like His”)

Revelations 12

We see in our reading the drama that is played out in our lives and in the world around us. Satan (the dragon) who leads the world astray and in the process tries to take out The Savior, the church (the women), and her children (the Christians). Yet, we see that he can not defeat The Savior or the church, and even when he tries to take out the saints, he loses. For even when Satan thinks he wins when he brings about their death, they win and he losses! We need to hear the message that Jesus delivered to the saints then and now; “stand and do not back down, remain faithful even to the point of death and you win!” Yet we must never forget, that the drama is still being played out and the dragon is still out to defeat us. “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.”

Revelations 11

In our reading I believe that it is a vision specifically to comfort the Church. It was a measuring of the inner sanctuary, the altar, and the people who had come to worship. The process of measuring was not only to separate the holy from the common, but also to protect. The thought here is one of protection and holiness of God’s people. An unholy force could not attack the inner sanctuary because it had been declared holy. The outer court of the temple was not measured because it had been given to the Gentiles to trod underfoot for 42 months. The Gentiles would attack the Church of the Lord, but they would not be able to attack her heart. God would permit persecution for a period, but He would not permit annihilation. The next vision was about two strong and powerful witnesses and the conflict. The two witnesses would prophesy for 1,260 days which is 42 months. This is the same time period that the Holy City was going to be trodden underfoot. That was the reason the witnesses were prophesying in sack cloth. I suggest the identity of both the witnesses is the Church. What is the lesson of the two witnesses? Keep on preaching! Keep on telling! Keep on witnessing the power of God! One day, even though it may take a while, one day God will make it known that the Kingdom belongs to His children. Even though His children may have to wear sack cloth for a period of time, one day the enemy will be defeated. When the children of God know that God is in control, they can truly face whatever they have to face in this spiritual marathon!

Revelations 10

Our reading is more of a transition to the coming message and is a series of pictures. The vision of a mighty angel, the seven thunders, and a little book. John did not record what the thunders said because he heard a voice from heaven commanding him not to write their words down. This first vision said judgment would come without any further warnings. The second vision was of the little book that was open in the hand of an angel. John was told to take the book and eat it. The book was sweet in his mouth but bitter in his stomach. The Word of God is always sweet in the reception, but if it deals with judgment it can make the stomach bitter. This book will remind us a number of times that God is both a God of tremendous love and salvation, but He is also a God of judgment!

Revelations 9

In our reading we learn from Rev 9:20 that these seven trumpets of God’s judgment are not total judgments, or the final end of the world judgment, but are warning trumpets calling on the enemies of the saints to repent, which they refuse to do. These trumpets remind us of the plagues that God brought on Egypt, and I believe that is how we are supposed to view them. The oppressor is being punished – brought to his knees. As it was in the days of Moses, so it is in the days of the Revelation period. The ungodly is badly hurt, but as it turns out, not hurt sufficiently to turn him from his sins. The oppressors should have repented but they did not. They only hardened their hearts further and blasphemed. The focus of this text is on Rome, but God continues to send wake-up calls to mankind to get them to repent!

Revelations 8

In our reading it is important to note something about figurative language and that is the images portrayed paint a picture that tells a story. These images not only point to a present and future reality but are also used to create emotion! So in these visions not all the pictures and symbols presented to us have a corresponding reality, sometimes they are there to add color and drama to the story being told! The seventh seal contained seven trumpets. Seals were for concealing things. Opening the seals revealed things. The seven trumpets will speak of warning judgments. The judgments, being only partial, call for the ungodly to pay attention and repent of their wickedness. Don’t forget all this is in response to the prayers of the Christians and all this begins to answer the question asked by those who were martyred. “They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?””
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭6:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Reflections

Today is a day to reflect over our readings. I would suggest a good place to start would the last few chapters we read in Revelations. Chapters 4 & 5 presented two powerful scenes of the supremacy of God and the glory of Jesus. In a world that seems to be out of control, it is good to reflect and be reminded that we can rest assured that God is still ruling and The Son is the answer for both us and the world. For we also were reminded in chapter 7 that when we come out on the other side of all the tribulations and chaos we will receive an amazing victory if we remain faithful through it all. Praise God!