Tag Archives: Revelation

Secrets of “The Things”

It is difficult to imagine what it is like to discover that your child is missing. No doubt a tsunami of emotions rage through ones heart and soul when the realization that someone they love so dearly and so deeply cannot be found. Yet, in those first devastating hours one must try to respond coherently to a new surge of trauma from what seems like an endless stream of questions. The investigators want to know the details about what the child was wearing, where the child was supposed to be, what was the child’s standard behavior, had they been known to wander off before, who are their friends and where did they hang-out? All you want to know is where your child is, and are they safe?

The experts look for “things” that will provide clues as to who the missing person is, and what they do, in order to discover where they are. “Things” are very important when trying to figure out who someone is. Even though a “thing” is a non-specific term it allows for a broad search that is narrowed as more and more “things” are discovered. The search goes from the broad spectrum of “things” to a much more defined and definite spectrum of “things” as it is determined what is relevant.

In Revelation 1:1 John tells us that the clues to who Christ is, is found in the things. The Beloved Apostle records, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

To discover the truth about whom Jesus the Christ is we must understand “the things.” The “things” are not all-inclusive. God does not reveal everything about Jesus. He reveals only the pertinent things. He deals with us on a “need to know” basis. There are things we need to know because it relates to our relationship with him, and our responsibilities to him. But there are multitudes of “things” that we do not need to know, so God does not make them known to us.  Scripture is clear that God has sealed some “things” from us.

Daniel 12:4  But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

Daniel 8:26  And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days. Revelation 10:4  And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

John the Beloved in his gospel shares this with us; And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written,  that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:30-31.

What we need to know pertains to two things. The first thing related to where we will spend eternity. John tells us that one of the “things” that God wants us to know and understand about Jesus is his work of redemption. One of the most pertinent “things” God wants us to know is that He sent his only son Jesus to die on themcross and in doing so he took our sins and gave us the gift of eternal life. God’s word reveals much about the “things” of salvation. This work of Christ is the preeminent “thing.”

The second “thing” that is important to God and he wants us to know is that Christ has appointed us to be ambassadors for his kingdom.

2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. .

He directs us to become invested in the family business and show others how they can enter into the blessings of God’s amazing gift, eternal life. In chapters 1-5 we see Christ as the Merciful Redeemer, the one who came to seek and to save his fallen creation from the judgment that is to be revealed in chapters 6-19.

What things  do you know about Jesus the Christ?

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The Christians 72 Virgins

With the news of Osama Bin Laden’s execution comments have been made about the belief that there are 72 virgins awaiting those who die as combatants for Muslim supremacy. For those who hold to the traditional Judeo Christian faith the hedonistic concept of this reward seems trite and more unrighteous than holy and unworthy of divine distribution. But if we consider the concept of many who are sure of their conversion, professing the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary as the only way to heaven, it is intriguing that their objective of reaching eternal bliss rests upon purely carnal interests.

Heaven has always been a fascinating subject in the Christian consciousness. It is looked upon as the reward for those who have gone through a spiritual transformation. The fundamental Biblical belief is that one enters into the work of Christ on the cross and finds forgiveness and cleansing through the sacrifice God made of his son Jesus. Those who accept this gift of God are allowed to enter into this paradise God has specially designed and constructed for them.

It is easy to lose sight of an important fact; heaven is about Jesus, not about mansions, streets of gold, crowns, harps and robes. All those things provide elements of interest, but far too often they seem to become the motive and not the fringe amenities.  

There are many profound differences between the jihadist and the Christ based faith of redemption, but we need to be diligent with regards to that which energizes our interests related to eternity.

Jimmy Davis wrote a powerful song titled, I Bowed on My Knees, which conveys the truth all believers need to come to terms with, heaven is all about Jesus, and when we get there all the grand amenities will seem so insignificant.

Carefully read the words and if you want to be blessed check out the Gaither Vocal Band’s cut of the song. http://youtu.be/61WSyMjXEOM

I dreamed of a city called Glory,
So bright and so fair.
When I entered that gate I cried, “Holy”
The angels all met me there:
They carried me from mansion to mansion,
And oh what sights I saw.
But I said, “I want to see Jesus,
He’s the One who died for all.”

As I entered the gates of that city,
My friends all knew me well.
They took me down the streets of Heaven;
O, the scenes to numerous to tell;
I saw Abraham, Jacob and Isaac,
Mark, Luke and Timothy.
But I said, “I want to see Jesus,
The one who died for me.

Chorus
Then I bowed on my knees and cried,
“Holy, Holy, Holy.”
Then I clapped my hands and sang, “Glory,
Glory to the Son of God.”  

Radical terrorist no doubt transition into eternity and find that many things are sadly different than what they had anticipated. For those who have come to trust the Way, know the Truth and enter into the Life, eternity will be much different as well, but in a good way. We cannot comprehend what heaven holds. Paul tells a group of believers in Corinth, often believed to be a rather carnal assembly, that they had no comprehension of eternity in 1 Corinthians 2:9  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Don’t let heaven become just a Judeo-Christian version of 72 virgins. It is much, much more. It is a great eternal union with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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Revelation: Unveiling of the Master’s Love for His Servants

During World War II many soldiers became casualties of a simple letter from home. They had endured unimaginable psychological trauma from the horrors of the battle field. They had survived physical hardships and deprivation, but found themselves permanently wounded by a letter from their wife or fiancé saying they no longer loved them. These letters became known as “Dear John” letters.

John the beloved writes a distinctly different type of letter when he penned the book of Revelation. Instead of the message of a jilted lover, spurned by the one he had given everything he had to win; the letter is notification to those God loves that righteous judgment is coming and he will provide them with safety and shelter.   God reveals the depth of his love by describing  the horrors of the judgment from which he will deliver them.

John, in his introduction, states that God is showing ‘his servants’ things which must shortly come to pass.  The term servant is the Greek word doulois. The root is doulos commonly used in the New Testament to identify a bond slave. A bond slave was much different that the Roman slave. The Roman slave had been claimed as a spoil of battle. They had no rights and were strictly at the mercy of those who owned them. They were relegated to menial servitude and lives of hardship and poverty.

The bond slave was often an Israelite who had been taken into servitude by a wealthier Israelite due to bad debts. Their service was to be rendered for a set period of time. When that time had expired they were to be freed having worked off the unpaid debt, but they could choose to continue to serve their master. Many did so by becoming a bond slave. This choice was often made because they had married as a servant and their spouse, as well as any children born during this time, was still deemed the property of the master and was not set free. So out of love for their family they would surrender their freedom and become a bond slave. To verify this decision they would place their ear against the door post and it would be pierced with an awl.  They would then run a ring through the hole in their ear symbolizing that they had forever relinquishing their freedom.

Those who are redeemed have become bond slaves to Christ. Because of his love and sacrifice for us we surrender our freedom, our rights and privileges in order to serve him. In Revelation John writes to these bond slaves, the doulois, and unveils a more complete picture of their master.

God wants all those in his kingdom to know about Christ. He wants them to know about his great work of redemption, his righteous judgment and his glorious kingdom. Robertson in his commentary New Testament Word Pictures indicates that these are the redeemed in general. God did not design the writings of the book of Revelation for a few special people, endowed with mystical powers, to interpret secret divine codes and discover some hidden ancient mystery. As Paul instructed his apprentice in the faith young Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Revelation is written for all to read and understand as they properly divide these words of truth.

Who are these servants? They are those who have received the gift of God, those who have been redeemed by the shed blood of the Lamb. They are those who have become heirs and joint heirs with this Jesus the Christ. This letter is not a letter of separation or divorcement, decreeing doom and damnation. This is a letter warning those who believe that judgment is coming, and that the one they love and serve will preserve them from the pending perils. This is not a divine Dear John letter, but John’s Letter to God’s dearly beloved, his servants.

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What is in a Name?

Revelation: Expanded Introduction – part 2.  

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, Juliet pleads with Romeo to look in his heart and see the truth about who he really is. Her plea convinces him that his name is not important, what is important is their love for each other.

 Every name has meaning. I did a search on my name to see what interesting information might be gained and found a rather diverse array of definitions. I am interpreting that to mean that I can choose the ones I like the best. The definitions ranged from someone who lived in the valley, to head or leader, to chief or ecclesiastical supervisor. I liked the head or leader, or ecclesiastical supervisor best, so if asked I will probably go with those.

As we look at John’s unveiling of the central character in the book of Revelation, we find he uses two names to identify the one to whom he directs our attention. He calls him Jesus Christ. Not just Jesus and not just Christ, but Jesus Christ. This is a significant combination of identifying titles. Unlike the diverse definitions of my name, which offered me the privilege of defining my name as I pleased, or at least pick the ones I preferred, these titles are very precise in what they mean and what John wants us to understand. In this name we see the perfect blend of man and God. In this title we discover the union of human flesh and divine essence, the incarnate deity.  Paul describes this union for us in Philippians 2:6-11 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  

The name Jesus comes from the Old Testament name Jeshua, or Joshua. The name means deliverer, savior, or Jehovah saves. This name is the most frequently used name for the Son of God during his time on earth. It appears to be his human identity. It describes his purpose for coming to earth.

The name Jesus identifies him as the humble servant, the suffering savior. Scriptures clearly define Jesus’ ministry as that of one who came to suffer and die that he might provide salvation for his lost creation. 1 John 3:5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Acts 13:22-23  he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:

Because of his humble earthly origin he was rejected by those he came to deliver, the seed of Abraham. John in his gospel states in chapter 1 verse 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. The religious elite saw him as just another man. In spite of the miracles he performed, and the depth of his knowledge of the Torah, the religious leaders could only see his humanity. They would only acknowledge that he was the son of a poor carpenter from the blue collar town of Nazareth. He was not of the intellectually superior, socially accepted Judean privileged and therefore could not be anything more than a self appointed prophet.

The Old Testament foretold that the Messiah must first come and suffer to redeem his fallen creation.

In Isaiah 42:1-7 the prophet declared, Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.  He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.  Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

And again in Isaiah 53:2-7 the prophet describes in great detail the suffering of Messiah at his first appearing;  For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

But the pride of the self righteous religious leaders blinded them to the Messiah coming, which opened the door of redemption to the gentiles. In the first part of Revelation John shows Jesus lovingly instructing those he has redeemed, preparing them for their performance evaluation and reward.

The name Christ means anointed one and refers to the Messiah, the one who would rule and reign on the throne of David. We see this Jesus the once humble servant now the Righteous Judge, the Glorified Lord and King. Paul in Romans 14:11 says, For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. The Psalmist proclaims the same message in Psalms 72:11 Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. And Paul instructs the believers at Philippi in Philippians 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; this humble suffering savior is also the Messiah. He is the one who will judge the world and rule his eternal kingdom.

Charles B. Wycuff penned these words in a beautiful song he composed titled What A Lovely Name. “There’s a name above all others, Wonderful to hear, bringing hope and cheer: It’s the lovely name of Jesus, Evermore the same, what a lovely name. He’ll return in clouds of glory, Saints of every race, shall behold his face; With him enter heaven’s city, Ever to acclaim, what a lovely name. What a lovely name the name of Jesus, Reaching higher far than the brightest star; Sweeter than the songs they song in heaven, Let the world proclaim what a lovely name.”

John summarizes his theme in the first few words of his opening paragraph when he wrote the name Jesus Christ. Jesus is identified as the Merciful Redeemer that is seen ministering to the church in chapters 1-5 and Christ is identified as the Righteous Judge pouring out holy judgment in chapters 6-20, and the Glorious King ruling over his eternal kingdom in chapters 21, 22.

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Revelation: Expanded Introduction

When a master artist paints a masterpiece they work hard to establish a focal point. This is the area of the painting where the painter wants the observer to focus. The artist will often place this point at a strategic location on the canvas and make the strongest contrast between light and dark part of this space. The artist will also create other composition features to direct the eye of the onlooker to the focal point of the painting. The focal point is the artist’s purpose for creating the painting.

Rembrandt had a special way of lighting his portraits in order to create a dramatic feel and enhance the features of the person he was painting. Cecil B. DeMille in his movie, The Warren’s of Virginia filmed in 1915, experimented with lighting in order to make the shadows in his movies appear as they would in nature. When one of his partners saw that only half of the actor’s face was able to be seen he protested that the patrons would only pay half of the admission cost. DeMille told him it was “Rembrandt lighting” and his partner became ecstatic believing now they would pay double to see the movie.

For a writer the introduction casts a guiding light that will define his purpose and create the desired focus point. As God led the hand of John the Beloved, through the work of the Holy Spirit, he directs our attention to the revelation he desired to make, the unveiling of the Messiah. His purpose is summarized in the first few words of the opening sentence, “The revelation of Jesus Christ,” Revelation as defined by Webster’s Dictionary: “The act of disclosing or discovering to others what was before unknown to them; appropriately, the disclosure or communication of truth to men by God himself, or by his authorized agents, the prophets and apostles.” Christ is being unveiled, revealed, made manifest more completely.

In verse two we find Christ referenced twice, once with the title John used to introduce him in his gospel, the Word of God, John 1:1. Paul expands this truth about Christ as the Word with his instruction in Hebrews 1:1-2  God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;  Hebrews 2:3-4  How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

Christ communicates to us today as a merciful loving savior. He is shown in the gospels to be the light, the bread of life, the way, the living water. He is the one who came as a humble servant, as the sacrificial lamb to communicate salvation to his lost love destined for certain destruction. Paul tells us that if the message of the prophets and the angels were validated by God how much more certain is the message of his son, the Word of God, going to be validated by its fulfillment?

Christ is God’s communication to man, to his loved, but disobedient, fallen, lost creation. In the gospels Jesus told those who followed him that he was the manifestation or communication of the heavenly Father to man. John 1:18  No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. John 14:9-10  Jesus saith unto him, … he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. John 8:19  Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.

Beginning in verse five and running through verse eight we see an in-depth description of Jesus the Christ. He is presented as: the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead, the prince of the kings of the earth, (who loved us and washed us, from our sins, in his own blood), and the one who commissioned us as priests in his kingdom (a kingdom of priests), the one who comes in the clouds, the one who all the tribes of the earth will bewail, the Alpha and the Omega, the almighty.

Helen Howarth Lemmel in a hymn she composed titled Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, reflects Johns focal point when she penned the chorus. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face; And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace.” 

John shines a light on Jesus to illuminate his features and direct our attention to him. All he presents in the book is meant to define him and reveal the fullness of his being to those who read it. The focal point, whether reflected on the churches of Asia minor, or diffused through the judgment of the tribulation, or gloriously radiated from his eternal throne, is Jesus the Christ.

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A Short Introduction to the Book of Revelation

When one studies the introduction of John’s writing, they find that he emphasizes and reemphasizes the central focus of the writing, Jesus Christ. It is easy to overlook the first six verses of chapter one and skim over the first five chapters to try and explore the secrets of the judgments and apocalyptic events, hoping to discover some mystic codes that will provide us with details of Christ’s return. Scripture states very clearly that God has predetermined not to reveal these elements of his return.  Acts 1:7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power; Matthew 24:36  But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only; Mark 13:32  But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2  But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night; 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. Revelation 16:15 Behold, I come as a thief.

It is easy to become swept away with the speculation and sensationalizing of the writings in order to create a following and enhance ones standing in the Christian community. It is easy to try and manipulate modern events to define and describe prophetic writings and project dates, which create false hope and expectations, but an honest study of the scriptures does not lend itself to such forays. Scripture teaches us that prophecy is given to motivate the unbeliever to escape eternal judgment by entering into the kingdom of righteousness, and to exhort the believer to live a consecrated life in expectation of his emanate return.

The grandfather of well known poet and preacher John Donne was John Heywood, an English writer who wrote plays, poems and proverbs. John Heywood put together a collection of common sayings. One of the common sayings he helped bring to prominence was a phrase coined by Publius Syrus in his writing Sententiae, “People who are always moving, with no roots in one place, avoid responsibilities and cares.” Which was later phrased, “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” The phrase has been used in a number of American songs ranging from Muddy Waters “Roll’n Stone”, Hank William’s “Lost Highway”, Buddy Holly’s “Early in the Morning”, to Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.”

John Heywood also introduced or reintroduced such sayings as “the moon is made of green cheese,” “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and “You cannot see the wood for the trees.” This proverb was later rephrased as “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” The proverb, “You can’t see the forest for the trees,” is a good evaluation of many who engage in the study in the Book of Revelation. The proverb references one who is so consumed by the details that they lose sight of the main purpose or concept. In the Book of Revelation it is easy to become so engrossed in the judgments and the apocalypse that we lose sight of the intended focus, Christ.

When we look at these prophetic writings from the perspective for which God has designed them, the things that steal our peace and create anxiety become secondary, the trees, and Christ becomes the forest, that which should be the central theme and desired discovery. The book with this focus then breaks down into three parts: Chapters 1-5 The Merciful Redeemer; Chapters 6-20, The Righteous Judge; Chapters 21-22 The Majestic King.

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