29.5 Revelation – The Main Event

Revelation 22:17 starts with “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!””

As I read this I thought about “come to what?”, “come to where?”.  Aren’t we already in heaven?  Hasn’t judgment day come and gone and this is the after-life?

A few weeks back I was at a, for lack of a better term, let’s call it a gala.  When we arrived at the venue there was interesting and enticing food and drink.  All the people in attendance were dressed in fine dress, some in very colorful native dress from their countries of origin.  There was music and entertainment.  The servers were welcoming and friendly.  Conversations were wonderful and engaging as friends embraced and new introductions and friendships were begun.  All attending had been invited and had made the choice to attend.  It was a wonderful event.

Then the doors to the main dining room were opened and we were called to come in to a banquet that had been specially prepared.  There was no rush or pushing or jockeying for position because each of us had a reserved seat with our name carefully placed.  Everyone was courteous and welcoming to each other, all filled with the joy of meeting with and being greeted by the host of honor, the master of the ceremonies.

When I read the invitation in Revelation 22 to come, and each of the times Jesus expresses that He is coming, I think of how these earthly galas will pale in comparison to the banquet of the spirit, the bride and the Lamb. I also realize that however wonderful I see the part of heaven that is described in the bible, there is even more and greater joy when the banquet doors are opened and we are called inside to meet God face-to-face.

Each of us has received an invitation.  Each of us has a ticket, paid in full by the sacrifice of Jesus and His defeat of sin and death.  But, each of us must choose to accept the invitation, dress in the robes provided by the host and show up.

Who do you still need to tell to come?  If you absolutely know for certain that the prophecy of Revelation is 100% trustworthy and true, what do you need to change in your life?  Your life is a witness to others (whether you intend it to be or not).  Your words are a witness.  Your heart drives your words.  If you have taken to heart this prophecy, has that invoked change in your heart, word, actions, life, interactions, love, witness?

My Answers:

11.
This is the only place for choice.  This is where man was allowed to choose.  The choice we make here is eternal.  I desire for as many as Christ has chosen me to reach to come.  Let no person stumble because of me!

12.
There is urgency, but also assuredness and completion.  It isn’t just a command, but also an invitation.  And all who accept the invitation also are empowered to call out for more.

29.5 Revelation – The Main Event

29.4 Revelation – Ands and Buts

As anyone who teaches or writes about the bible, I am prayerful and vigilant of the warnings in Revelation 22:18-19 to not add to or take from the word of God.  There is risk in any illustration or any words not directly quoted from scripture that they alter meaning, even if done inadvertently.

The things I watch for are the ands and the buts.

For example, the bible says (quote any scripture passage), but…  or John wrote (reference/quote), and I…

Whether in writing or in speech we need to train ourselves both to watch for and to avoid using these terms.  Clearly there are numerous examples where we are called upon to teach the bible.  Our study in BSF includes lectures and notes which provide illustrations and principles and applications.  We have study bibles which include additional resources.  All of these are good and add value to our study.  The key is that it is our study, yours and mine, and that our goal is not to learn what someone else thinks or says but what the word of God actually says and how God speaks to me and you directly to build a stronger relationship with each of us personally.

Hopefully, when you visit here or read other comments (after you’ve completed your own questions, of course), it isn’t to shape your beliefs or interpretations or even your answers around what I think or what my life experiences have been, but because you are so moved by the word of God that you want to continue to swim in the verses with another human being that also loves His word.  One of the things I love about God’s word is that the deeper you go, the more beautiful it is and the more we are moved to share it with others.

Amen?

My Answers:

9.
a.
Spirit says come, the bride says come.  I too say come.  I am thirsty for the joy of salvation.  I am thirsty for the power of holiness.  I am thirsty to shed off the pain and sadness and horrors of wrongness of this world and live in perfect peace.

b.
My treasures are not of this world.  I seek not for more for the sake of more, but for relationships and connections, for helping and leading others, young and old.  I look to God’s direction and calling.

10.
Because it is not ours.  We can be confident in what it says, but we only confuse and confound and create division when we try to interpret it to fit events, rather than allowing the events to unfold as Christ says they will

29.4 Revelation – Ands and Buts

29.3 Revelation – The College of the Lamb

Revelation 22:13 sent me to the Greek.  I was curious, are these words, Alpha and Omega, the First and Last, the Beginning and End, just three different interpretations of the same scriptural word or do they actually hold different meaning.

I love the richness that is found in doing this and encourage you to do the same when you get curious about a passage of scripture.  I use an online reference bible, www.blueletterbible.com, for this.  By selecting any passage you can go to the “interlinear” which shows the original Hebrew or Greek.  These words then are linked to Strongs so you can see the definition of the word as well as other places in the bible where the same word is used and the context of those uses.  Since we are at the end of our study of Revelation this week, I’ll digress and give an example of how valuable this can be.  Take Genesis 2:18, where Eve is brought forth to be Adam’s “helper”.  The word used here is “‘ezer”.  However, before we fall into a trap of thinking this means assistant, support-staff, underling, or however else you think of “helper”, we see that every other time the word appears in scripture it applies to God.  That God is our “‘ezer”.  Clearly God helps us and assists us, but we don’t mistakenly think that makes us above God in those roles and relationships. Now, back to Revelation 22:13.

The three phrases do have different meanings or at least a different reference point.  Alpha and Omega are letters, written and spoken words and language.  First and Last are numerical, mathematical, all that can be counted and quantified.  Beginning and End reflects physical matter, being, states of substance and existence, life.

When we step back and look at those, we see that Jesus is the master over all that is known to mankind.  Every subject of higher learning is covered within these three bookends.  All of literature, math, science, philosophy, all of the -logies, Jesus is at the beginning and the end.

And, as we would give advice to anyone going off to college or studying in school, we are called to pay attention to our great professor and learn from Jesus, not from the false-teachers, deceivers and those who seek to lure us into lies.  As Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:8a, “Be alert and of sober mind.”

 

My Answers:

6.
Alpha and Omega, First and Last, Beginning and the end

7.
a.
All are sinners.  But those with robes washed, have been purified by the blood of Christ’s sacrifice.  The others chose not to and were judged and have been found to be impure, doing what is shameful and deceitful and they will never enter the holy city, drink of the water of life or eat from the tree of life and live forever.  Instead, their path leads to death, eternal death

b.
Washed – I have accepted the gift and received (and continue to receive as I repent of my sins), the right and honor to be called a brother to Christ Jesus

8.
I ask Him to shine a light to my path.  To help me stay alert.  To help me stay focused and walking with Him daily, not distracted by the world.  Also to be bold in telling the gospel.

29.3 Revelation – The College of the Lamb

29.2 Revelation – To Heart

Our questions today focused on Revelation and the Bible as a whole being “trustworthy and true”.  I imagine that many will focus their answers around the bible being true with the idea that if it is true then, obviously, by default, it is also trustworthy.

However, most of the attacks I see on the bible today and on the basic beliefs of Christianity, are not attacks on the truthfulness of the bible, but on its applicability.  This is particularly true of the attacks coming from those inside the church who seek to put their own ideas of acceptability above what is taught by the bible, some not even recognizing or accepting that this is what they are doing.

The argument made goes something like this, it is not that the bible is untrue, but that parts of it applied then and there but don’t apply here and now.  If we simply go by what the bible says then, we would still be worshiping on Saturdays, eating only what was kosher, offering animal sacrifices, and administering capital punishment for everything from working on the Sabbath to rebelliousness on the part of children.*

If we only look at scripture as a rule book, then this argument seems to provide a strong backing to a modern or progressive rewrite of the word of God.  And, as we continue to progress as a modern society, we would continue the rewrite or redefinition of what is currently applicable and what is old fashioned.  That’s progress, right?

But the bible is not a self-help book or a rule book, it isn’t a user manual or legal compendium.  The bible is a love story.  It is a story of how every sin is a sin against God and yet, God still loves us.  It is a story of the measures that the Creator God will go to redeem His people that sold themselves into the bondage of sin.  It is a book of grace and mercy, not to change the definitions of sin to ignore what is and isn’t sinful, but to recognize the sacrifice that was made for us and try to grow in holiness.  Yes, there are rules and self-help elements, there are how-tos and do’s and do not’s, but that is why it is critical to know not simply a narrow passage of scripture, but to know and take to heart the entire bible.  It is “whole bible” learning and application.

The blessing of Revelation is not simply for those who read and hear the prophecy, but to those who take it to heart.  Taking something to heart means a heart transformation, not a message transformation.  A hardened heart seeks to redefine God’s word to fit in it.  A transformed heart is one that seeks to be reshaped into the holy image of our Lord’s heart.

John was rebuked for falling at the feet of the angel.  Today, many fall at the feet of pastors and leaders who absolve them of sin by redefining what is sinful, by reshaping the image of God to meet man’s desire, rather than reshape men to God’s desire.  Sadly, these souls do not receive the same rebuke from these leaders that John received from the angel.

*quote from blog posting of prominent pastor, left anonymous here to not be misconstrued in intent.

 

My Answers:

3.
a.
Because Jesus is Faithful and True.  There is precedent – everything in the bible is true.  There is authority, comes from the creator.  There is substance, the power of the Holy Spirit.

b.
Start with the hypothesis: what if it is true?  Then what does that mean for you?   It is not a history book or an owners manual.  It isn’t a book of rules and regulations.  It is a living love story.  Heb 4:12, For the word of God is alive and active…

4.
Rev 1:3, read aloud, hear, take to heart.
Blessed by revelation of the end of this story.  Blessed by drawing closer to who God really is and not whom He is “rumored to be” by mankind.  Blessed by seeing the power and awesomeness of our Lord.  Blessed by seeing the method of worship in heaven

5.
a.
Worship God!  John had bowed down to worship at the feet of the angel, he is a fellow servant

b.
When I seek fulfillment in places other than God.  when I have not been diligent in staying alert or walking daily with Him.  When I have been overwhelmed (positive or negative) and I’m awestruck, I forget how much more full of awe God is than even that.

 

29.2 Revelation – To Heart

28.5 Revelation – Tendrils of Distraction

Living according to God’s will for us is hard.  We are called to be salt and light to the world.  We are called to rejoice always, pray continuously, give thanks in all, to be thankful, and alert.

I think that for most of us that last one is the hardest. Following biblical teaching, we often think of sin as a lion crouching in wait for us.  We think of a beast grabbing ahold of us and pulling us under. A leviathan of the deep with tendrils choking and crushing our bodies.

But, in my day-to-day life, the bigger issues are not the direct attacks that I can see and those around me join together to pray through.  It is not in the big bully beast wrapping around me in attack.  Instead, it is in the little taps of distraction on my shoulder.  It is more like a buzzing fly, drawing my alertness away.

I sit down to read or pray and my mind goes a million directions.  I stand in worship at church and feel a cramp in my foot or hear an instrument out of tune or feel cold or just start day-dreaming.

Even the chosen 3 apostles who went with Jesus to pray fell asleep time and again.

We are powerless.  But God is not powerless.

Do you start your bible study with a prayer for peace and alertness and focus?  Do you ask God to keep your mind and body focused on worship time?  Do you call on the power of the Holy Spirit in each of these situations?

These tendrils of distraction are real evil things.  Yes, everyone has them.  They are completely “the norm”, but the norm is a fallen world permeated by sin.  Normal and right are not the same thing.

I think this is an area that all of us can ask for God’s help in our journey to eternal holiness with Him.

My Answers:

10.
M28: Go – make disciples of all nations – baptize them (father, son, holy spirit), teach, obey, walk with Jesus, every day, every single day

J13: Understand that while Jesus is gone He is still glorified with and in us.  Love one another, be known for love. We will follow Him.

1T5: Rejoice always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances, accept God’s will, be in Jesus Christ. Trust, not doubt, rjct evil

H12: Be thankful, worship God (acceptably with reverence and awe), look forward to a kingdom that cannot be shaken

1P1: be alert, set hope on grace brought by Jesus, be obedient, do not conform to the evil desire, be holy because Christ is holy

11.
fear and doubt and worry.  It is not in my belief, but in my unbelief.  It is in the little ways and thoughts and temptations and words that are not the witness that they need to be.  It is in my failures to pray continuously, but intermittently, to run ahead of God, instead of walk beside Him, to ask Him to save me instead of asking for direction in advance.

28.5 Revelation – Tendrils of Distraction

28.4 Revelation – Blink

Even though we know better, we tend to think of time as a constant.  A second always last exactly a second, a day a day, a year a year, etc.  But, we know that time is simply another dimension just like spacial dimensions height, width and depth.  And we know that these dimensions that bind the physical world, these laws of physics, don’t apply the same way in the spiritual world.

Not only are space and time similar, but Einstein’s theory of relativity, published in 1915, postulated that they were interwoven into the same fabric of spacetime.  Bear with me, but many of us don’t understand this 100 year old “science fiction” sounding term so let’s do a little bit of an explanation.

Let’s say a pitcher can throw a fast ball at 100 miles per hour.  Now let’s say you are standing stationary on a tall mountain and the pitcher is standing in the back of a fast airplane hurtling through the atmosphere at 900 miles per hour.  As the plane rockets past you, the pitcher releases a fast ball from the back to a catcher in the front of the plane.  Relative to you, how fast is that ball going?  The answer of course is 1,000 miles per hour (100+900).  From the point the pitch is released to the point that the catcher catches it, it travels a distance in space away from you far greater than it would have traveled if the pitcher would have been standing next to you on the mountaintop.  And since speed is measured in space/time (e.g., miles/hour), it travels at a faster speed.

Light also travels at a speed.  Most of us know it simply as the speed of light or 186,000 miles per second.  So, lets take our same scenario as above, but instead of the pitcher throwing a baseball, lets give him a flashlight.  And lets also give you, standing on the mountaintop a flashlight as well.  And, just to make things easier to understand, instead of an airplane, the pitcher is in a very fast rocket ship traveling at 50,000 miles per second (very fast).    So, same scenario, as the rocket streaks by, both you and the pitcher perfectly simultaneously light your flashlights pointing in the same direction the rocket is going.  Your light beam streaks forward at 186,000 miles per second and the pitchers light beam streaks forward at 186,000 miles per second, the two light beams traveling forward neck-to-neck through space.

But, wait a second.  Why is it going 186,000 miles per second and not 50,000 + 186,000 miles per second?  This is where things get really interesting.  It is because the speed of light is a constant.  So, if it is being accelerated along at a speed of 50,000 miles per second, but still goes at 186,000 miles per second then either space (miles) or time (seconds) must not be constant.  And what Einstein proposed was that time, for the rocket pitcher, slows down.  The faster you go, the slower time gets.  His watch takes longer to count off 10 seconds than yours does.  (I know: Mind Blown!)

Evidence has supported this theory, rocket ships and space satellites have to be operated on different clocks to stay in synch with earth time.  Furthermore we have found that gravity, too, bends light and thus also influences time.  As a result a second is not a second, a day is not a day, and a 1000 years is not a thousand years to every place because of speed and gravity.  In some places a 1000 years is but a day (sound familiar?)

This is a really deep explanation to address a simple question.  Where do people go after they die while the rest of us are still living?  The problem with that question is that it is huge on assumptions.  It assumes “where” is strictly physical and bound by the laws of space, such as height, depth, width (even though we don’t believe the dead go on limited by their physical bodies).  It assumes “while” is a time dimension that is exactly observed at the same rate as those standing still on earth.  But our growing understanding of physics shows that this is not how God designed reality.

Understanding the beauty of God’s design in the laws of physics also helps us see how being freed from the bodily constraints of life and having our souls separate from our bodies at death means a totally different experience of both space and time.  The criminal on the cross would be in paradise “today” from his reality.  Thousands of years may go by for those on planet earth, but the newly saved believer simply blinked.

It also is beautiful in the words of Jesus from centuries before mankind began to understand the speed of light when Christ said, I am the light of the world (John 8:12).  Jesus is the only constant in all of creation.

My Answers:

7.
1Cor: Upside downness – everything weak is made strong, dishonor traded for glory, humility into glory.  Not by our own strength or works or thoughts or actions, but by the gift provided by the saving grace of Christ on the cross and resurrected from the tomb.

1John: What we will be has not yet been made known.  We have nothing of reference to the glory and holiness that we (you and I) will become.  We shall be like Christ, able to be with Him and view Him face-to-face.

Rev22: Paradise.  To create anew what once was “good”.  To make a new world in which there is no sin, because everyone in it has already made the choice to love and serve God, unlike the first world in which choice must be offered.

8.
In paradise, in rest.  Time is a dimension like height, width and depth which do not have the same constraints in the new world or in the spiritual world as they do in our physical world. When time is not a constraint, a moment and a 1000 years are not different.

9.
The understanding that this is not it.  All of us know that and want that, but to believe there is more opens the question of what is more, what else is there?  This implies something else, something more, something greater.  In a world that denies God and Jesus, this means opening a mind that is closed. – I pray for those who accept the lie as truth, who ridicule and deny God as fairy tale.

 

28.4 Revelation – Blink

28.3 Revelation – Results

I work in a job where results matter.  If we are honest, we all do.  It is not simply a matter of putting in our time, punching the clock, waiting for the weekend.  We need to work diligently.  We need to work smart.  We need to work with goals in mind, with objectives, with measurements and with outcomes.  We need to work to get results.

Yet, many people don’t.  They put in their time, do only what they are told, blame someone else, and live paycheck to paycheck hanging on to survival.  These are also the people who hate their jobs, are unhappy, dissatisfied, and who seldom get praise, recognition or raises.

What is true for work is also true for life.

Unfortunately, many people go through life simply punching the clock.  They get up, drag through the day, eat, sleep, numb their minds with media or drugs or alcohol and look forward to exiting someday to the great retirement home of heaven.

But, God gave us this life for a purpose and that purpose is to produce results.  What kind of results?  The only ones that matter – eternity results – being a witness to others so that they too can be saved into an eternity in the presence of God.

But, unlike our 8 to 5 jobs, in this one, God, through the Holy Spirit does all the hard work.  He asks, commands, us to only do three things: pray, go, witness.  We don’t have to convince anyone, we don’t have to sell the good news, we don’t have to go into foreign lands or live in poverty.  But we do need to begin each day by asking God to show us how we can be a witness for the good news today.  Sometimes it will be through actions.  Sometimes it will be through words.  Sometimes it will simply be through love.  We can’t sit all by ourselves, we must go into the world.  We can’t be cooped up with media, hiding, but out with others, going, living, doing life together in community.

And with that, results matter.  It isn’t a quota system, if it was the minimum quota would be 1 (yourself).  But it is an area of daily focus.  It is the most important goal and objective.  Not notches of how many souls have been saved, but a life that is ready when God places that one opportunity in front of us.  The one person who is watching you with your kids.  The one person who sees something different in the way you live your life.  The one person who is hurting or homeless or handicapped or a widow or orphan.  The one person who the Holy Spirit has brought to you who is prepared by the Holy Spirit to receive the gift of Jesus if only you would let the Spirit be bold in you.

So, how do you start your day?  Are you dragging out of bed, with dread and grumbling?  Are you trying to get through another day, survive, do your best and hope for the rest, just enjoy life, live for the moment, get what you can today?

Or, are you starting your day with God?  Are you not relying on your strength but on His?  Are you not setting out on your own path, but going joyfully in His?  Are you facing pain and hurt and challenges and dreading them or are you turning all of these over to the one who has faced, lived and defeated them all?  Are you shelled up by yourself and being ashamed of the gospel or are you going boldly, bravely, diligently?

Colossians 3:23-24:

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

 

My Answers:

5.
broken, fallen, out of control, spinning further into darkness, sin building upon sin, darkness on darkness.  Abominations are paraded as the new norm.  Christianity is openly persecuted daily in every corner of the world.  The sacred is used as a prop for the adulteries of the world. Death surrounds us and sin permeates every pore of the living

6.
a.
2 Cor 4:18,So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal

b.
It is by serving.  I live as a foreigner, living in rental property.  Wealth and power and prestige here are immaterial except to the degree that they help lead others to the promised land.  Everything we know today, heaven and earth, will be thrown into the lake of fire.  Only the things God loves (John 3:16), will be redeemed, bought out, of the refuse, to judgment and eternity.

28.3 Revelation – Results