09.6 Revelation – Ye of Great Faith

Ye of Great Faith

I normally don’t share in this blog on the last day’s question, simply because it is meant to be for personal reflection.  But there are 2 things I would like to share today.

One of the things that challenged me was to not get off on side trails this week.  It was hard for me to not spiral into wanting to pursue all the different thinking about who are the 24 elders.  And, if some of the elder are the apostles and since John is an apostle, would John be seeing himself? And, if he did would he recognize his new self in his new heavenly body? And, would this create some strange, “back to the future” paradox which would create a wrinkle in the time space continuum. And is that why he isn’t mentioning any wheels on the throne like the other prophets and no mention of the Ophanim?

See, what I mean?  Instead, I was reminded in the lesson that “the main thing is the main thing.”  The main thing in our lesson this week is about the worship of God.  That is the message, that needs to be my focus rather than diverting my focus down many paths that, if they mattered, would have been explained in more detail.

Secondly, as I write this, Paris and the world are reeling in the wake of new terrorist attacks.  When I woke this morning, I read a daily devotional that helped me and I would like to share it with you.  It was reflecting on Hebrews 11:1-2 and came from the NIV the Journey Bible.

“Did you know that you’re a person of great faith?

It’s true—you are, and so is everyone else. Not a day passes without each of us exercising considerable faith. For example, you did it when you showered this morning. You trusted that the soap manufacturer didn’t put some caustic substance in the soap that would burn your skin. When you drove to work, you trusted that the drivers of the oncoming cars wouldn’t suddenly pull in front of you. When you got to work and flipped on the light switch, you believed that the light would come on.”

In the same way, we live each day with faith in being able to go out in public to a performance and not be attacked by armed radical terrorists.  We have faith that the protections of our governments and police will be sufficient.

Yet, we know that faith in these things is misguided and an illusion or lie.  Over and over throughout the world we are reminded of this fact.  We know that evil is present in this world and has no issue with killing or terrorizing us or trying to parallelize us.  We see that persecution is real, despite our desire to live as if it is not.

If your faith is shaken by these events, look at the question, “in what have you placed your great faith?”

God is true.  God is almighty.  God is good and in control and the sovereign king and lord.  God is our God.

When we do not face fear and worry, we dilute our faith by spreading it across various false things: money, governments, negotiated peace, ethics, fairness in the world.  We forget what we know – we live in a broken, sinful (sin-filled) world, that is not fair, that is not at peace, that has very broken governments and no amount of money can change that.

Do not blame God or doubt God because of the reality of the harm and pain that sin has brought into this world.  Instead, renew your faith in Him and in Him alone.  Renew your focus on eternal life in worship of Him.

The main thing is the main thing and God is the main thing.

09.5 Revelation – Worship = Love

Worship = Love
or “Why Heaven isn’t boring”

There were two questions in our study this week that I think are very closely related.  One discussed the meaning of giving glory, honor and thanks.  The other asked for the “why” behind the action of the 24 elders.

I think these both come back to the same question: How do you define worship?

I’m going to define it this way:  Worship is a form and expression of love rightly reserved for God.

The saints and angels are not worshiping God in heaven out of obligation or duty.  They are worshiping Him because it is the only right thing to do.  They are worshiping Him because of Love.

This is a different love, than the love behind hugging your child or parent or spouse.  It isn’t a different love than the willingness we have to sacrifice our own time and talents (and life) for others that we care for and about.  It is simply a bigger love than all those things combined.  It is why God is so angry with us over idolatry.  It is us giving that incredibly precious thing, that is only rightly God’s, to some piece of rock or wood.  It is us missing out on the pouring back of love from God when we connect only to Him in worship.

It is also important to note this giving back component to the worship relationship.  Did you notice that the 24 elders give their crowns to God over and over again?  For them to do that, God must give them back each time.

The reason I don’t think this ever will get old or boring in heaven comes down to an ice cream parfait.  It is along the lines of the commercial line, “but wait, there’s more.”  When you eat an ice cream parfait it has layers.  You may start with a little bit of the chocolate, then mix in some of the nuts. The next bite might include a little of the creaminess of the whipped cream.  The smell of caramel, the coldness of the ice cream, the warm brownie, the sound of the crunch as you break through a chocolate piece.  When you are eating it, your total focus is on the delicacy in front of you.  Every part of you is fully engaged in the joy and pleasure of it.  Each layer you go deeper reveals new and exciting nuances that make you ooh and aah in new appreciation.

I think this is an example of being in the presence of God.  The more we see and experience is like plunging through another layer of the parfait.  The new revelation makes us want to sing out in joy and encourages us to go deeper.

Ok, that’s enough, I’m going to go get some ice cream and worship God!

My Answers:

10.
fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him, laying their crowns before the throne and singing a song of praise to the worthy, glorious, honorable and powerful creator.  It is the only right response.

11.
Peace, praise, glory.  There is power and might that is honored and worshiped.  It is a royal Holy Day.

12.
The best way to have God at the center is to have Him at the start and end as well.

09.4 Revelation – God in the Center

God in the Center

Holy, Holy, Holy
Lord, God, Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come!

This song from Revelation 4:8 is the perfect cube.  3×3, God exactly in the center.

Like at it like a sudoku puzzle.  Every way you read it is a perfect and complete summation.  Lord, God, Almighty.  Holy, Lord, Who was.

It challenges our thinking when we open our eyes to just how deep and meaningful this is.  Especially to the fact that God is in the center.  As the bible starts out, “In the beginning God”.

Even our thinking of the royal court of heaven.  When we think of a royal court, the center of the court is the throne.  That is because Kings and Queens may come and go and each be seated on that throne.  But in heaven, God is the centerpiece, not the throne.

And like a wheel, everything rotates around and is linked to the center.  Interesting trivia, in geometry, the center of a circle is called the origin.

So, here is an application and a challenge.  Take this square to your next quiet time of devotional.  Worship God in each quadrant as it comes out from the center.  How do you respond to the Holy God?  How do you live you life in recognition that God is your Lord?  How do you acknowledge that God is present, today, in your life?  How, do you bow in reverence to the “All Might” of our God?

It is fun and rewarding to recognize that you are worshiping God in the same way as the celestial beings encircling Him seated at His throne.

My Answers:

8.
a.
All persons of the Trinity are Holy, a perfect and complete holiness

b.
All might is of God’s.  He is the Lord (master/king)

c.
God is eternal and present.  He is not just “the God of the old testament” or the “God of Jacob or Israel or Daniel”.  He is also not just the baby Jesus in the manger.  He is eternal and eternally present

9.
To live it out in thought word and action.  Tor give all praise to God.  To truly strive to do His work, putting Him at the front and myself at the rear

09.3 Revelation – Is To Come

Is To Come

In our lesson today we see God’s power and perfection, but we also see God in His Eternity.  God alone has no beginning and no end.  Everything else, the heavens and the earth and everything in them was created.  Everything physical, living or elements, great or small, was created.  Everything spiritual, other than God, was created, including the angels in all their different forms.  Sound was created.  Light as we know it was created.  Everything except God.

We often will praise God for His consistency.  God is the same yesterday and today.  He is unchanging.  He does not begin better because He is and always has been perfect.  He does not become less.  He doesn’t gain might or power or authority nor does it ever diminish.

We see this in the descriptions of heaven referenced throughout the bible.  Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, John, Stephen, Moses, all see the same thing.  None have words to fully describe it, although each tries with comparisons and allegories to things and sounds in this world.

But I found it interesting that the words that are spoken about this in heaven that we find in both Revelation 1:8 and in Revelation 4:8 are NOT, “the one who was and is and will be”.  While that would be consistent with how we sometimes view God, that is not how God is viewed by Himself or in His house.  That description would be of a flat God.  A two dimensional God.  A God without feature or movement.  A God without a crescendo or climax in His relationship with mankind.

Instead, in those verses God is described as “the one who was and is and is to come.”  Did you catch the difference?  God and all of heaven is looking forward in anticipation a great and glorious day.  The glimpses of heaven the great prophets are given are not simple of another day in heaven like every other day, they are of a day of glory when God comes to judge and collect His people out of the world.

As you live in relationship with God, are you simply putting in your time?  Going through the motions?  Treating each day as just another day?  Or, like someone with front row tickets and a backstage pass to the greatest event of all eternity, are you living with excitement and anticipation?  Are you decked out in your team colors for the event?  Do you study His word so you can sing along with every verse?  And, most importantly, do you know with whom you are supposed to share that extra ticket that God has placed in your pocket?

If God and all of Heaven are looking forward to this day, shouldn’t we be as well?  They pyrotechnics alone sound pretty amazing!

My Answers:

5.
lightening thunder,  rainbow, shine, clarity like crystal – God’s power and perfection

6.
thunder, lightning, loud trumpet blast, lapis lazuli under his feet, God seated on a throne, winged beings flying , singing Holy, Holy Holy, smoke/cloud, living creatures, gems on the throne, flying creatures, throne of lapis, figure like that of a man glowing like full of fire with brilliant light, the appearance of rainbow

7.
a.
The first voice like a trumpet (Jesus), At once I was in the Spirit (H/S), the one who sat there (on the throne) (God the Father)

b.
The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father to remind us of everything  Jesus has said.

09.2 Revelation – A Great Gift

A Great Gift

Do you remember a time of giving someone a really great gift?  Maybe it was when you were younger and giving a gift to your mom or dad.  Maybe it was a special birthday present for a friend or loved one.

For me, the thought goes back to May Day flowers for my mom.  I would have been about 6 or 7 years old and we made flowers in school for our moms.  They were simple pieces of paper, cut and curled and colored in a simple construction paper cone with a construction paper handle stapled on the top.

I remember the care in making them and getting them home in my backpack.  I remember that year the 1st of May was on a Saturday, so I kept them hid and stayed quiet about them.  I remember the anticipation and giggling as I sneaked out the back door and around to the front of the house, carefully hanging the “bouquet of flowers” from the doorknob.  The moment I rang the bell and then raced back around the house, flying back in, closing the door and diving on to the couch, to nonchalantly yell out, “Mom, there is a delivery at the door.”  I remember the way my mom went to the door and the joy I felt when her faced lit up at the gift.  The way she displayed them throughout the day.

I also remember years later seeing them in a storage box, where she had held on to the memory of that day.

I did not have the money or means to get a fancy gift.  I could only craft something out of materials that were given to me.  But the joy we both shared in the giving was the the true gift.

This is, to me, the meaning behind the robes and crowns of the elders.  They are/were human beings who lived a life of faith to God.  They had no ability to earn a white robe or a crown.  These were materials given to them.  But throughout their life they crafted them into something of joy.  The joy is not in the pride.  The joy is not in the possession.  The joy is in the giving of the gift itself.

We have nothing God lacks.  We have nothing God needs.  But God has given us materials: bodies, time, talents, materials, a voice, a mind, a heart and soul, relationships, eyes to see, His holy word, a Spirit alive within us.  Like a great parent, He loves the moment of seeing our gift of what we craft out of those materials and sharing in that joy with us, not once, but over and over and over again throughout eternity.

My Answers:

3.
God, the appearance of jasper and ruby, a rainbow shone like an emerald encircled the throne, from the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder, sitting behind a sea of glass, clear as crystal.  Demonstrates God’s majesty

4.
a.
24 elders, the saints who had died for faith in God

b.
A crown that will last forever, a crown of righteousness awarded by the Lord the righteous judge, a crown of glory that will never fade away from the Chief Shepherd, the crown of life that the Lord has promised to the blessed one who perseveres under trial and stands the test