‘Come, Lord Jesus’

Well the good news is that my copy of Every Day with Jesus, ‘The Great I Am’, July/August 2013 arrived. Now, this new issue looks at the second book in the Old Testament – Exodus.

It’s reasonable, I think, to pause for a moment – as we review the last study of the previous issue, which look at the last verses, of the final book of the New Testament – Revelation. The reason for the pause, is to meditate on the fantastic fact that the whole of Scripture is one, unified story of God’s promise to save His people.

Revelation 22:12-21 (NIV): “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.

 

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

 

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

 

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”  The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

 

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

 

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

 

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

I liked Selwyn’s conclusion: “The safest position is to take God at His Word, trust in Jesus’ sacrifice for us on Calvary, and wait with earnest expectation for His coming. There is not much time left.

The final statement is a promise of grace. Grace means strength, divine enabling. There is no better way of gaining strength for the days ahead than to ponder the truths in this book. How else could John finish his book than with the simple affirmation ‘Amen’ Oh, Yes?”

The final message for all of us – is this; we must live our lives with the eager expectation that Jesus is returning – soon. There is always a sense of urgency in our work to make God known to a lost world, through Jesus. There is a great urgency in ensuring that we actively deal with the sin in our lives, constantly seeking the Holy Spirit’s help to create in ourselves – a pure heart.

I believe that Jesus is returning soon and I try to live my life in the light of this truth.

Your thoughts?

Continuing in the right

Revelation: 22:6-11 (NIV): ‘The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.”

Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!

Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.” ‘

I think that Selwyn presents some excellent points in today’s study:

  • “As the vision comes to an end John falls at the feet of the angel. The angel says, ‘Don’t do it! … Worship God (alone)‘.
  • How sad it is when we become more caught up with the messenger than the message.
  • Nothing in Revelation is more explicit than the fact that the prophecy concerns Jesus and God.
  • It is Christ’s revelation we are to be taken up with, not the revelation of anti-Christ or the end of the world.
  • The angel commands urgency – ‘the time is near‘.
  • The message for us, from today’s study, is that we must continue to be holy.

The same message is given by Peter in his first letter, telling his readers that they may suffer grief in all kinds of trials, and that they need to be holy.

1 Peter 1:7-15 (NIV): ‘These trials have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed (on the last day). Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

I know a number of people who say they are saved by the work of Christ on His cross; but don’t appear to respond to His gift – by trying to live a holy life. [I will not judge them, that’s not my role to judge a fellow servant.]

I know it’s hard to obey Jesus’ commands but the Holy Spirit does provide help to us, to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. We repent when we fall, and we reach out our hand, to be helped up by the Spirit so that we can continue our journey – to give honour and glory to God.

We should live our lives with the urgent expectation that Jesus may return – tomorrow – if not sooner.

Your view?

‘External nutrients’

Revelation 22:1-5 (NIV): “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.

The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”

I think this is a great picture of our future in heaven with Jesus. The beauty of the book of Revelation is that it gives us an insight into what heaven will be like. We will see the face of God and we will be His people. To follow Jesus means that we can live here on earth with no fear of death – that ‘curse’ will be lifted forever, after we exit this life. This Chapter of Revelation should be a great encouragement to everyone: to go out and let – our family, friends, and neighbours; and those we can contact through social media – know, just how much Jesus loves us.

These words of Selwyn’s are really good: “This picture, I think, is intended to show that we will be dependent on God for our life in eternity in the same way that we are dependent upon Him now. The nutrients we need for our eternal existence will come from Him and not from our own resources. Our lives will be watered by the river of God and ripen into fruitfulness. … Best of all, our eyes will be focused on Jesus.

In the presence of God, we will understand the reason for our creation, we will know that our eternal lives have significant meaning and purpose – and, we will have peace and contentment – at all times.

So very, very, very amazing – great – fantastic!

The gates of peal!

Revelation 21:9-27 (NIV): “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honour of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

I thought that Selwyn’s conclusion is worthy of further consideration: “Can you catch sight of the rich symbolism of the gates of peal? The entrance to the New Jerusalem is secured through the pain which Jesus endured for us on the cross of Calvary. Those wounds have become our healing. We cannot scale jasper walls. We go in at a gate, and the gate is a peal.

I’m not sure about Selwyn’s analogy; ‘A peal is the product of pain.’ I don’t think they experience pain, yet they are the result of ‘healed wounds‘. The part, which I do applaud is that the gates of peals, are the result of Christ’s work, on the cross. We could never open these gates by ourselves; we enter the gates because they have been opened by God, for those, who have accepted His invitation to enter.

Your view?

What a prospect!

Revelation 21:1-8 (NIV): “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.

To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.”

It’s good that we have the book of Revelation because it tells us how the history of mankind ends. It comforts us to know that we will be given the water of life, as a free gift. We can shout ‘Hallelujah’, as children of the one true and loving God, our Father. It can’t get any better than this!

I liked these following bits in today’s study: “The Bible opens with the creation of heaven and earth and ends with the creation of a new heaven and earth. Creation is its first word and its last word. … A city comes into John’s view, ‘prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband’ (v2). It might seem strange that heaven is pictured as a city. However, the underlying thought here is of a beautiful community living in harmony and ready to receive God’s love. Heaven is a place open to all who trust in Christ. Can anything be more exciting?

As I mentioned a few days back, we cannot look at any set of verses in isolation to what is written in other areas of Scripture; and as an example we read in Isaiah 65:17-19 (NIV): “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.” Important truths are to be found in a number of areas of Scripture.

In regard to the theme of living water, these are some of my favourite verses (John 4:13-14, Jesus talking to the woman at Jacob’s well): “Jesus answered,Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.‘ ” Consequently, it has always surprised me that some people have made so much of the first few verses of Revelation 20, to the extent they’ve created dry, unnecessary and unproductive divisions.

Your view?

The great white throne

Revelation 20:7-15 (NIV): “When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth – Gog and Magog – and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

I think today’s set of verses are fairly straightforward. Looking at the last lot, verses 11 -15, clearly, this is an image of God, on His throne, in judgement on mankind; ‘each person was judged according to what they had done‘.  We know from the Gospels, that Jesus has told us that no one is good, except God – therefore, we can’t count on good deeds to save us.

Returning to the earlier verses – the devil is allowed to deceive the nations into a war against God’s people. The names, Gog and Magog [these names are found in Ezekiel 38,39, a hostile nation to the north of Israel; in some old transcripts, a different version is found, ‘Gog from Magog’]. In summary, we can say the words represent – a king and his kingdom – hostile to Israel; which I think in general terms can be a symbol of those opposed to the new ‘Israel’, that is, God and His people. In Revelation, Gog and Magog have no geographical identification, but come from the four corners of the earth; not just from the north of the nation, Israel.

In today’s study, Selwyn writes: “John reveals that when the thousand-year period is over, the devil will be released from his prison and allowed for a time to deceive the nations. The result of this will be the final battle of the ages. … I must again emphasise that the various scenes in Revelation are not necessarily presented in chronological order. … The battle ends, however, with the defeat of the invading army, and the devil being consigned to the lake of burning sulphur.

I liked Selwyn’s conclusion: “God’s great mercy are seen here (at the judgement) again, as we realise that because the Father sent His Son to die for us, no matter what we have done in the past, our faith in Jesus secures our pardon.

Do you agree with me, that the book of Revelation is not that hard to understand, as long as we keep in sight the big picture – the main message, which is, to worship God alone, and to place our trust in Jesus?

The thousand-year reign

Revelation 20:1-6 (NIV): “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations any more until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands.

They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Well, we now come to six verses in Revelation, which have been tortured into many different interpretations and they can’t all be right! My first point is that we can’t take any six verses in the Bible and look at them in isolation – they must align with what the rest of Scripture tells us. Next, I take the view that the language in Revelation is symbolic and John’s imagery is not in chronological order.

Consequently, the term, ‘a thousand years’ means for me – a complete and perfect time; keeping in mind that time periods – day, week or years have no relevance in heaven (there are many verses, which support this position) – time periods in heaven, do not exist as we understand the earthly concept of time.

Next fact – Jesus is reigning right now – His Kingdom has come; He has already defeated Satan through His death and resurrection. Colossians 2:15, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, Jesus made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Hebrews 2:14-15, “Since the children have flesh and blood, Jesus too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” John 18:36, “Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. … But now my kingdom is from another place.”

As the power of the devil has been broken by Jesus – he has no power over us while we remain in Christ’s love. There are boundaries placed on Satan’s activities. (Paul’s letter to the Romans discusses in great detail the fact that we have been set free from our sinful nature through Jesus.)

It’s our witness to Jesus in the midst of the chaos and destruction of this current age that we testify to Christ’s victory on the cross, and by our actions and words proclaim the arrival of His Kingdom. Mark 9:1, ‘And Jesus said to them,Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” ‘

Meanwhile back in Revelation 11:15, we read these words: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiahand he will reign for ever and ever.” It appears, to me, that Jesus reigns for ever and ever. In addition, the verses in Revelation 20, does not say that Jesus will only reign on earth for a thousand years, but that the blessed and holy ones will reign with Him for a thousand years (where?). That is, you could have an interpretation which allows for Christ to be King of kings – at all times; and the holy people of God join Him, for a thousand years (a perfect and complete time).

Hopefully, I’ve pointed out enough issues which make a literal interpretation of these verses to be unlikely (the same sort of issues are faced in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians 4).  I don’t think it’s that important what type of ‘millennialist’ you are – as long as you are following Jesus with all your heart, mind and spirit; and, you’re seeking to do His will, at all times.

On a separate issue – I don’t see the destruction of the beast and the false prophet as a separate event; Revelation 20 is just another view of the same event (to draw out more information), the dragon (devil) meets his end in the lake of burning sulphur, at the same time. Again, I don’t think it’s that important if you hold a different view – the main thing is that all evil ends, with God’s perfect judgement.

In summary, it’s important not to get too judgemental of your fellow servants in-Christ – if they happen to have a different view of these verses. If, these verses worry you, please pray about it – as I’ve said on earlier occasions – Jesus loves you, He will provide you with a level of understanding required, for you to continue your journey.

Therefore, I [mostly 🙂 ] agree with Selwyn’s final words on today’s study: “No matter what our view of this thousand-year reign, everyone can be encouraged by the knowledge that Satan and his evil influence will one day be suspended and the eliminated from the world. A friend of mine likes to call himself a pan-millennialist. ‘Everything,’ he says ‘is going to pan out all right in the end.’