Saturday, September 24, 2016

Jesus the Mighty Warrior!!

Revelation 19

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.

Jesus came the first time as the lamb of God who took away the sin of the world. But as John sees heaven opening and Jesus coming back, he comes back in great and promised glory. While he came the first time as a suffering servant, he comes again as a warrior with eyes blazing like fire, and a sharp sword coming out of his mouth. On his robe and thigh are the name he has written for himself, King of kings and lord of Lords.

Though the beast and all Satan's armies are arrayed against Jesus the Lord, the beast and false prophet are captured and thrown in the law of fire, and the kings of the earth and their armies are destroyed by the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

Sometimes we see Jesus as a sentimental, almost syrupy kind of guy, but this scene reminds us of his great and mighty power. He is a great warrior, who defeated evil on the cross when he came to give himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. But in the end he will come with peels of thunder, and a great multitude of voices shouting "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. Worthy to receive honor and glory forever and ever!"

How does this view of Jesus challenge what you think it means to be a Christian man or woman? What battles is God calling you to fight in His name? We live in the time before this final battle, but we also have the Word of God, which is the Sword the Spirit. If we want to battle the enemy, we will surely be equipped with it. With God's Word and the gift of His Holy Spirit, the Living Word lives in you. Don't be afraid of the evil you see in your world or that is tempting you to compromise your faith and follow the way of the world. Fight the good fight of faith, and you will receive a crown of glory which will never fade away.

Friday, September 23, 2016

What Do You Do With Wealth?

Babylon Revelation 18

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2 With a mighty voice he shouted:

“‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’
She has become a dwelling for demons
and a haunt for every impure spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal.
3 For all the nations have drunk
the maddening wine of her adulteries.
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”


Do you ever get tired of the evil and greed in the world? It seems as though the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Those who exploit others and children for their gain, sadly seem to profit as well. What does God think about this? Revelation 18 gives us a glimpse of what kind of judgment awaits those who have been ruled by luxury and greed. The metaphor is that they will be repaid in God's wrath two times as they have done.

Babylon is symbolic for Israel's former foe in the 6th century, and also a code word for the Roman Empire who lorded their power over their subjects, including persecuting Christians in them first century. It is also symbolic for a world that has been in opposition to God all throughout history. We see it just as much in our society today in all of its forms. It is the inherent power fueling everything that is bad in our world. While Christians are called to live life set apart from the world, we often dabble in the things of the world.

John warns the early believers about how bad of an idea this is. It is easy for Christians to get caught up in the materialism of the world. The problem with that is that we can't take our wealth with us, and it also could be taken from us in a heartbeat. The only thing we take with us is our faith and relationship with God, and our family and friends who we will spend eternity as they trust God in faith.

Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 619-21

So the question today is, how much do the pleasures and riches of the world have a hold on your heart? How much do you sub it to its incessant demands? And conversely are you investing your treasure in things that will go with you when God calls you home.





Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Is the World Evil? - Revelation 17

Revelation 18

Babylon, the Prostitute on the Beast
17 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. 2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”


As we have interpreted this book, we have seen that some of the metaphors represent historical people and governments in John's time, but are also metaphorical for all time. Babylon was a specific kingdom who overcame Israel in its history in 586 BC, and Rome was considered the Babylon in Jesus' time. It represented the power in the world, which is ruled by the evil one. One of the symptoms of this system was adultery. Adultery in a literal sense, but also in relation to people who denied God and gave themselves to the gods of the world. In this final revelation, John is seeing this power in complete control of the ever and increasing secular and atheistic world.

Another symptom of this evil system was the blood the martyrs who stood up to testify for Jesus. Because those in power hate Jesus, as he represents their final destruction, they wage war against God's chosen people for a time. But just as Jesus will be victorious over the ten future kings who will wage war against him, so his faithful followers will be victorious with him.

Many people try to associate these 10 kingdoms with different powers and government in our current day, but often these interpretations are good intentions gone awry.

Here is an example of this from a website I was just on,

An issue for Europe is that it is geographically close to Russia, and Russia is a military power that is going through a return to a totalitarian type of government and is showing military aggression now. And Russia is showing signs of using natural gas supplies from Russia as a way to manipulate Europe and former Soviet countries such as Ukraine through price hikes and control of supply. And Russia has taken over Crimea in Ukraine and may take over the rest of Ukraine. This web site includes a section suggesting that Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States could be the red ten horned beast in the Book of Revelation in the Bible, and Europe (and Mrs. Angela Merkel, leader of Germany and Europe) could be the woman named "Babylon" who rides him in Revelation 17, since Europa in mythology was a woman riding a bull. Revelation13.net

This is why it is dangerous to use a literal interpretation and assume one knows how these metaphors apply to today's political landscape.

So then what can we learn from John's description of this system of rule and power? We certainly see aspects of it today in our world both here and abroad. Christians are still being persecuted both in the US and abroad. Some are right now losing their lives for their testimony about Jesus. We live in a world where to live by Jesus' values makes us look increasingly strange. We should not be surprised at this treatment, or the fact it will only continue to grow.

But the Good News is that Jesus has defeated the principalities and powers of this present dark world. We are called to be lights in a dark world. God is still using us to bring others into the light that Jesus has pre-ordained to be his chosen people. One day Jesus' rule will be on earth as it is in heaven, but in the meantime we are called to fight the battle. We need to be in close fellowship with each other to surround ourselves with the truth of God's Word and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. We can pray for those being persecuted and love all of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

God's Patient Judgment!

Revelation 16

8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in agony 11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had

The seven bowls of judgment complete God's judgment on all mankind. Each judgment is worse than the previous and brought pain, sores and boils on the people. One of the judgments is cited to be judgment for all those who had shed the blood of the holy ones and the prophets. It reminds us that when the end comes God will right all wrongs and bring justice to those who were wronged or killed for His name.

But the big theme is that when those who have the mark of the beast see the judgments are from God, they curse him. And more significantly they refuse to repent. Despite their pain and realizing the judgment is from God, their hearts are seared. They worship the image of the beast, and therefore refuse to believe in God. Notice the purpose is to give these people another chance to come to the truth.

A lot of people focus on the horror of the judgments, but don't see the purpose of them. They don't see the justice or mercy of God in these judgments. They don't see that when someone worships something or someone, they will eventually see what that thing is worth. In this case those who worship the beast will have the same fate as him.

What can we learn from this passage? Although God desires all people to be saved, if people refuse to be saved they will what eventually get what they deserve. In fact, we would all get what we deserve if we weren't covered by God's grace in Jesus. So how do we reach out to those who seem hell bent on destruction? While only God can change a human heart, we can pray for people. Since it is a spiritual battle. we need to wage the battle with the weapons we have been equipped with, prayer and the word of God. Also we can love those who persecute us and curse God.

Who in your life seems so far from God they seem hopeless? Whose heart seems seared to the words of God and curse his name? Remember God will have mercy on them if they repent. If God is willing to be so merciful so should we!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Worship in Anticipation of Heaven!

Revelation 15

2 And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God 3 and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb:

“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the nations.
4 Who will not fear you, Lord,
and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”


Revelation 15 is a prelude to the seven plagues that will bring the final judgment of God. Seven is the number of completeness, so after this series of plagues the judgment will be complete. One commentator put it this way,

"Unlike previous plagues, these are universal, and they will culminate in the abolition of all evil (“with them God’s wrath is completed”) and the end of the world." Life Application Study Notes

There is also a vision of the saints, who have been victorious over the beast and his deceptions. In the vision they are beside a sea of fire worshipping the Lord. We also see references to both Moses and the Old Testament covenant. This reminds us that salvation history is the thread the whole Bible. The great deliverance of the Israelites through the Red Sea was a foreshadowing of the deliverance of sin, death and the power of the devil.

With this in mind, as we look to the future revelation of the end times, we can know that history will be completed and evil defeated. And we would be part of the judgment of God, had Jesus not come to die for us. God is holy and nothing that comes in His presence can be unholy. Since it is His nature, he just can't co-exist with it. When we come to God's holy temple, our song of worship will be filled with praise and admiration to the Lamb who sits on the throne of God. He is the One who has made us worthy because He is worthy!

How can your attitude toward anticipate toward worship on Sunday, anticipate what you will be doing in heaven forever?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Is There Really A "Hell"?

Revelation 14

A third angel followed them said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.

One of the most difficult aspects of talking about the Christian faith is judgment. This is especially true of the final judgment of believers and unbelievers. Some people would like to soften the message about a final judgment thinking no one should deserve to spend eternity apart from God, what the bible calls "hell". That is why when we say to someone "go to hell", it is really a bad thing to say to someone. It is an eternal judgment on them that only God is qualified to make.

Since the book of Revelation is about the events leading to the end times when Jesus returns, it deals with the final judgment more so than any other book in the bible. Here is how one commentary interprets the above verses,

"The result of sin is unending separation from God. Because human beings are created in God’s image with an inborn thirst for fellowship with him, separation from God will be the ultimate torment and misery. Sin always brings misery, but in this life we can choose to repent and restore our relationship with God. In eternity there will no longer be opportunity for repentance. If in this life we choose to be independent of God, in the next life we will be separated from him forever. Nobody is forced to choose eternal separation from God, and nobody suffers this fate by accident. Jesus invites all of us to open the door of our hearts to him (3:20). If we do this, we will enjoy everlasting fellowship with him." Life Application Bible Notes."

So while being separated from God is a result of rejection of God's love in Jesus, it is never too late to turn from unbelief and come to faith. Since we don't know who will accept or reject God's offer of salvation, we can only have a sense of urgency about us and we seek to reach out and share the Gospel in both word and deed.

A question to ask yourself is, "Do you really care about the eternal destiny of those around you?" Do you live your life in such a way that someone might be attracted to Jesus because of your winsome approach to life? Although we don't save anyone, or are not responsible for anyone else's soul, we do have a responsibility to share the Good News whenever God and the Holy Spirit leads us.

When we get to heaven I think one of the questions will be is, "What did you do with the free gift of the gospel I gave to you? Did you share it with anyone or keep it to yourself?"

Is There Really A "Hell"?

Revelation 14

A third angel followed them said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.

One of the most difficult aspects of talking about the Christian faith is judgment. This is especially true of the final judgment of believers and unbelievers. Some people would like to soften the message about a final judgment thinking no one should deserve to spend eternity apart from God, what the bible calls "hell". That is why when we say to someone "go to hell", it is really a bad thing to say to someone. It is an eternal judgment on them that only God is qualified to make.

Since the book of Revelation is about the events leading to the end times when Jesus returns, it deals with the final judgment more so than any other book in the bible. Here is how one commentary interprets the above verses,

"The result of sin is unending separation from God. Because human beings are created in God’s image with an inborn thirst for fellowship with him, separation from God will be the ultimate torment and misery. Sin always brings misery, but in this life we can choose to repent and restore our relationship with God. In eternity there will no longer be opportunity for repentance. If in this life we choose to be independent of God, in the next life we will be separated from him forever. Nobody is forced to choose eternal separation from God, and nobody suffers this fate by accident. Jesus invites all of us to open the door of our hearts to him (3:20). If we do this, we will enjoy everlasting fellowship with him." Life Application Bible Notes."

So while being separated from God is a result of rejection of God's love in Jesus, it is never too late to turn from unbelief and come to faith. Since we don't know who will accept or reject God's offer of salvation, we can only have a sense of urgency about us and we seek to reach out and share the Gospel in both word and deed.

A question to ask yourself is, "Do you really care about the eternal destiny of those around you?" Do you live your life in such a way that someone might be attracted to Jesus because of your winsome approach to life? Although we don't save anyone, or are not responsible for anyone else's soul, we do have a responsibility to share the Good News whenever God and the Holy Spirit leads us.

When we get to heaven I think one of the questions will be is, "What did you do with the free gift of the gospel I gave to you? Did you share it with anyone or keep it to yourself?"