27.3 Revelation – Built by God

There is one God and one new Holy City.  There is one dwelling place where those chosen and called will live in daily communion with God.  There is a New Heaven and a New Earth, but no separation between them.

Creation is new again, but God and believers come forward into the new existence. There is not a new God, God is God, unchanging and eternal.  The God of the tribes of Israel is the God of the apostles.  The God of the old testament is the God of the new and the yet to come.  Man is born again, in new bodies, free of sin and pain and tears.

But mankind has no dowry for the wedding day.  Mankind has nothing old, for all the old is gone.  Mankind has no possessions or deeds, because all have been judged and burned away.

But Christ, as the groom has beautifully ordained and dressed His bride.  As we read through the size and magnitude of the city.  As we view the beautify of the jewels, the emerald, the ruby, the sapphire, amethyst, pearls and gold.  As we see the names on the gates and on the walls, we need to remember one important thing:  All of these are from God, not for God.  The new Holy city is not built by human hands, it is built by God and descends from heaven.  These are not things that God owns, to show off to others or to display His wealth.  These are not things made valuable because of scarcity.  These are things presented simply because they are beautiful and simply for the joy of the bride.

One thing that is interesting to keep in mind is that, in the dark, these are simply rocks.  Nothing more, nothing less.  They are no greater or less than any other rock made by God.  But in the light the reflect the light in beautiful brilliant ways.  They reflect a rainbow of colors.  They reflect shine and depth, they reflect the love of God, the presence of the Lamb.

My Answers:

6.
a.
Jasper Sapphire Agate Emerald Onyx Ruby Chrysolite Beryl Topaz Turquoise Jacinth Amethyst Pearls Gold

b.
Old and New Testaments – No kingdom or castle on earth has ever compared – gold is nothing but paving stones, but all creations

7.
12. On the gates were written the 12 tribes of Israel
14. The wall of the city had 12 foundations, and on them were the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb

8.
a.
Glory: shone, brilliance, precious, clear as crystal, great, gem covered
Security: walls thick and of stone (precious), gates, wide and high as it is long (cube)
Perfect: dimensions are perfect, jewels are perfect, Gold is transparent as glass,

b.
It is real and measurable.  It has substance and beauty, it is sufficient as a city

c.
The beauty – it is not necessary, but it is right.

27.2 Revelation – Bride

In Revelation 21:9, an angel, one of the seven angels with the seven bowls of the seven last plagues told John, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”  He then takes John, “in the Spirit” and shows him the Holy City, Jerusalem.

We know that the church is the bride of Christ, the Lamb of God, so how is this city also the bride?

The designation of the bride of the Lamb is not in the identity or person of the individual but in the relationship with Christ.  These are represented both in the image of the bride and the dwelling place of the bride and groom.  Let me phrase that another way.  In the same way a husband and wife may own a house, but their relationship creates a home, the bride and groom are not simply individuals but the manifestation of the committed relationship they share.

The discussion of the bride is a beautiful analogy throughout Revelation.  In 18:23, the final judgment of Babylon was given and, in that judgment, the voice, the presence of both the bride and groom were permanently removed from the city.  No more Jesus, no more church, just doom and destruction (note: I know that doesn’t sound beautiful, but look at the fact that Jesus completely rescues His bride from the enslavement of this wicked city, never to return).  In 19:7, there is a call to rejoice because the bride of the Lamb has made herself ready.  In 21:2, we are introduced to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed. (This refers back to Isaiah 61:10, “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”) and in Revelation 21:9 we are shown the bride from a different vantage point, a high mountain.

This imagery of bride and groom to explain the relationship helps us understand the depth of the commitment that Jesus makes with us.  The two shall be as one, joined together, til death they won’t part and since there is no more death, it is an eternal commitment.  Jesus will live with His people, in His people and His people will live in Him.  The two that were separated by sin, will be separate no more, but shall be one, for all eternity.  The rebellious roaring lion of sinful humanity will lie down with the lamb, at peace.

This is in such stark contrast to the relationship of the woman and the beast.  This is the image of mankind in a relationship with wickedness and evil.  This is the collective of those who reject Christ, the “anti-church”, the non-believers.  This woman is degraded, calling herself the mother of prostitutes and abominations.  She is profane and drunk.  Instead of being honored by her husband, the beast, whom she believes she controls, she commits adultery and is used by the kings and the beast.  Instead of being loved and cherished, she is hated and killed and consumed.

None of us leave this life alone.   Our time on earth is for us to choose our relationship, with Jesus or against Jesus.  There is no undecided or agnostic.  A failure to choose is, in itself, a relationship choice.  There are only 2 relationships available, which relationship do you desire?

 

My Answers:

3.
Angel said: I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb and he carried me and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem

4.
a.
1. behind me: loud trumpet voice: write and send to the 7 churches – purpose
4. before me: throne of heaven with someone sitting on it – author
3. wilderness: woman sitting on a scarlet beast covered with blasphemous names – evil
9-10: to mountain great and high: see a holy city, Jerusalem, the bride, the wife of the Lamb

b.
prostitute vs bride, the drunk on blood blasphemous adulterer vs the bride made pure and dressed in white by her husband, the one consumed by the beast vs the one honored and loved by the lamb

5.
Any temptation of today pales in comparison – gold is simply paving stones

26.5 Revelation – Completely Saved without Separation

I loved the question in our study today of the three completions of God.  We have the completion of creation in Genesis.  We have the completion of the payment of redemption by Jesus on the cross and we have the completion of the death of the old creation and the origin of the new creation, the new heaven and the new earth.

Everything from the first creation is dead and gone, passed away.  The entire earth and all physical things, the spiritual world, even death and Hades have been cast into the lake of fire, something that was part of the first creation.

But God makes a new heaven, a new earth and a new holy city.  The only thing, other than God Himself, that comes into the new creation are the saved, those whom Jesus bought out of the old world and its death and gave a home in the new creation. If not for the completion of the payment of redemption on the cross, we, too would be part of what passed away.

I also love the things that John emphasizes in Revelation and the things he just says in passing.  Time and again he discusses facts around Satan’s demise and Jesus’ victory.  For weeks of our study we often had questions that sounded very similar to the questions from the previous week or a couple of weeks ago, because he loops back into the story, telling things in more depth or from a different angle or perspective.

But, then, in passing, in a single sentence, he just happens to mention that the new earth won’t have a sea.

No sea?  The sea is a real thing, we can see it, feel it, touch it, taste it smell it, etc.  But it is also a metaphor, a symbol, a stand-in for the message of separation from God.  The lands are separated by the sea, not the other way around.  The sea is unforgiving, it rages, it produces storms and waves, it swallows lives.  All water ultimately flows to the sea and the sea is filled with death. The waters of the sea are inhospitable.  More men have walked on the moon than have been to the bottom of the sea.  The beast rises out of the sea.  While evolutionists want to claim the sea as the origin of life, we know there is one greater than the sea, who is the true author of creation.

Jesus walked on the water of the sea.  Jesus spoke a word and the sea was calmed.  The sea obeys God.  God commanded the sea to rise up in the flood of Noah.  God prevented Jonah’s death in the sea and delivered him to dry land.  Jesus called many of his apostles out of jobs of making a living from being in the sea to being alive in Him.  One of the first things He did with his apostles after his resurrection was to prepare a meal for them on the shores of the sea and called them out of it to fellowship with Him.  In Daniel and Revelation we read of the angel of God who stands over both land and sea.

While there won’t be a physical sea in the new creation, there also will not be a symbolic sea either.  There will be no more separation from God.  The water we drink will all be of the spirit and our thirst will be quenched.

 

My Answers:

10.
No sea, no tears, no death, no mourning , no crying, no pain, no sin – everything is being made new – comforted and encouraged because of my confidence that I and my loved ones will be present there.

11.
Gen: completed work of creation – a day of rest as a model for His creation and as a sign of completeness
John: Jesus’ death on the cross, it is finished, the payment for sin (a perfect life sacrificed) was done
Rev: A/Z Beginning and End, to the thirsty I give spring of water of life – The completeness of judgement and the time for the new creation, replacing the other corrupted by sin, with eternal life for all believers without cost.
John 7:37-38

12.
a.
He grants people their desire – they desire to be eternally separated from Him and all that He gives and stands for

b.
the decision is one of eternal consequence

26.4 Revelation – Permeated with sin but Present in Peace

In Genesis 1, again and again we read that God’s creation was good.  But, then sin entered and, like a virus, it spread into every part of creation.  Every part of creation.  It spread into man’s DNA, our very existence, our nature.  But it also spread into the soil (blood), into the plants (weeds), into the rocks and streams and waters and air.  It spread into space, into the universe.  It spread into everything animate and inanimate.  It spread into the spiritual realm with the serpent and demons and fallen angels.  It is so invasive and so corrosive that the ultimate proper response is not to control or manage it, but simply to remove it.

In Revelation 21, we read that is what God does.  Every part of creation dies.  The living and the inanimate.  The mortal and the spiritual.  The earth and the cosmos.  All of it simply goes away and exists no more.  And, God starts a-new.

A new heaven and a new earth.  A new existence that in which God is fully present, where there is no more hurt or pain or sadness or separation.

We get fleeting glimpses of this in our present day.  The joy and innocence in a child’s eyes.  The shiver of the spirit when we feel God move in our life.  The peace that comes in the midst of prayer in a dire situation.  While we long for these flickers to light into raging fires, they are too quickly gone, smothered in the sin of the world.

But these glimpses are not mirages, they are real.  They are embers of the fire that burns in our God’s heart that He wants to place in ours for eternity.  It is the warmth and peace and joy that surpasses all understanding and keeps our hearts and minds on the truth, on the Word, on Jesus Christ.

The challenge for us, as believers, is not in finding the words to say to share the good news of Jesus Christ.  It is not in finding the spirit and conviction to talk to others.  It is not in our prayer lives.  The challenge is in our witness for Christ.  All of those others things impact it, but our loudest witness is in living a life noticeably different than the rest of the world.  A life that, despite the trials and tribulations, the pain and persecution, still shines with joy and assurance and peace.  Too often the witness that people see is one of hypocrisy of lip-service and compartmentalization of our faith to an hour on Sunday morning.  We are sinners and do not have the ability to shine this living witness on our own, but through prayer, reading the word and the power of the Holy Spirit, the reflection of God’s holiness can shine through us.

My Answers:

7.
Our current existence – because it has been corrupted by sin –  all of creation, not redeemed directly by the saving power of Jesus Christ, must suffer death and destruction

8.
During the time in the garden God walked and talked with man daily.  In isolated instances after He did the same (Enoch, Moses).  He spoke to and through the prophets.  He revealed himself in visions and direct signs and through angels (Lot, Daniel).  He became man and dwelt among us (Jesus).  He is coming again to reign for 1000 years after which time all creation will be purged and replaced with a new heaven and a new earth and only those who have committed their lives to Him will live for eternity in peace.

9.
a.
God’s answered prayer – Also that God has revealed Himself through circumstances that simply cannot be described in any other way than divine intervention.

b.
Because of the peace of the presence of the Holy Spirit – it is a feeling, but also a comfort and consolation and contentment that can be described in no other way than “from God”

26.3 Revelation – Their Day in Court

I think the precious beauty of God’s justice and fairness is most beautifully portrayed in the court scene of Revelation 20.  Every single person, from every time, the living and the dead, the great and the small, the one with years and years of life and the one with days, they all get their day in court.

Our courts in the US, which are normally deemed as some of the most fair and unbiased in the world, daily refuse to hear cases.  Their dockets are already full.  There is no absolute right to have a case heard.

In the court of public opinion people are judged constantly not as individuals but by association, prejudice, race, ethnicity, age, height, beauty, neighborhood, dress, etc., etc., etc.  We lump people together and our biases and bigotry come out.

But, God promises to hear everyone.  All the books are open.  Each individual has the opportunity to take their stand and allow their facts and evidence to speak for them.

Unfortunately for them, the burden of proof is not to be better than most others.  It isn’t even to get an “A” grade of 90%.  The requirement for acquital from sin is perfection.  For any sin, is sin and sin is not perfect.

The proper response in the court of the final judgment is not in taking a stand, but in bowing on our knees.  To fall on the mercy of the court and seek the promised assurance that Jesus gave that His perfection paid our price for sin and we are absolved of standing on our own merits.

There are many things that are a mystery, but the fact that, as Paul said, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” is not a mystery.  No human, in their right mind, claims to be perfect (except Jesus Christ).  Yet many choose to stand on their own instead of bow to Jesus.

But when the heavens and the earth have shrunk away and all your possessions, marks, buildings, wealth are gone and all of your deeds are presented together, what is there to stand on?  As we know, there is only one – Jesus Christ!  And because He, the rider on the white horse, is called Faithful and True (Rev 19:11), we can stand on His promises, on His Word and on the power of His Blood with complete assurance and confidence.  Complete!  Not kinda confidence, not 90% assured, but 100% through Him.

 

My Answers: (day 2 and 3 combined, so same answers)

3.
Jesus.  He was given the throne by the Father

4.
The earth and the heavens fled from His presence, there was no place for them – Jesus (bigger than heaven and earth)

5.
a.
Books of judgment.  Books of record of choices and decisions and deeds

b.
Believers, those who are righteous because of Christ, those who labor for His kingdom to spread the gospel, those who are His bride

c.
eternal damnation – eternity spent in torment of burning fire in the lake of fire – those who deny Jesus and choose their own path or the path of false gods and idols

d.
Yes and yes, by being bold and by living to not be hypocritical of my faith.  I stumble and fall, but I should live as a foreigner in this land and not conform to the wickedness of this world.

6.
That God/Jesus is bigger than the heavens and the earth and that He will come as judge and all will be judged

26.2 Revelation – Bigger than the heavens and earth

We recognize that we live in a reality of 4 dimensions: height, width, depth and time.  We also recognize, in faith, that there are things that are outside of those dimensions.  For example, God is not bound by the dimensions, neither are angels or demons, at least not in the same way we are.  But even of humans, we believe a person continues to exist after death and before resurrection within some state not bound by the physical world.

But, even with all that, it is incredibly difficult to imagine the magnitude of God on the Great White Throne of Judgment where the entirety of earth and the heavens shrinks away.  The word that is used here, pheugo, in other uses in the bible means to flee, to seek safety by flight, to run away, to escape out of danger.

Matt 2:13, the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.  “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape (pheugo) to Egypt.”

Matt 8:34 (on the demons being cast into swine) Those tending the pigs ran off (pheugo), went into town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed man.

Matt 10:33 (Jesus’ instructions to disciples) When you are persecuted in one place, flee (pheugo) to another.

Imagine the magnitude and power of the throne of Jesus that on His arrival into this physical dimension the entirety of creation physically flees away.  I would say, “it heads for the hills”, but the hills will be fleeing away as well.

It is nearly impossible for us to imagine, yet, it is simply the presence of our God and savior.  And everything that is corrupted by sin, the entirety of creation, in recognition of its sinful nature pulls away from the glory of God.

My Answers:

3.
Jesus.  He was given the throne by the Father

4.
The earth and the heavens fled from His presence, there was no place for them – Jesus (bigger than heaven and earth)

5.
a.
Books of judgment.  Books of record of choices and decisions and deeds

b.
Believers, those who are righteous because of Christ, those who labor for His kingdom to spread the gospel, those who are His bride

c.
eternal damnation – eternity spent in torment of burning fire in the lake of fire – those who deny Jesus and choose their own path or the path of false gods and idols

d.
Yes and yes, by being bold and by living to not be hypocritical of my faith.  I stumble and fall, but I should live as a foreigner in this land and not conform to the wickedness of this world.

6.
That God/Jesus is bigger than the heavens and the earth and that He will come as judge and all will be judged

25.4 Revelation – Peace and Prosperity

We long for peace and prosperity.  Every beauty queen discusses her desire for “World Peace”.  We save for it, we plan for it, we work for it, we negotiate for it, we make sacrifices to some day have it, we lobby, vote, spend, talk, sing and shed blood to obtain it.

But it can be incredibly corrosive as well.  Because we are fallen men, we are not pure or without sin, sinful thought, sinful desires and sinful urges.  Times of peace and prosperity foster outstanding growth.  Babies are born, strength in built, things get done.  But, unfortunately, in these same environments many of the negative cancers grow as well.

Looking back at history, it is during times of peace and prosperity that sin and debauchery grew to new levels.  People feel self confident.  They do not turn to God for help because they convince themselves they don’t need help.  Instead they write the rules, or throw out all rules.  They redefine right to be anything they want to do, anything that feels good.  The only wrong are those who do not go along with the deception.

Even in a time of the reign of Jesus Christ.  Even for 1000 when mankind grows immeasurably in number and stature.  Even with all nations under one ruler, one economy, one set of leaders who don’t die and don’t end their service (they were already raised from the dead).  Even in this period, the cancer of sinful man festers.

When Satan is freed, all it takes is a lie, a deception, for men to fall in line behind him. Not only speaking out.  Not only in words or quiet revolt – but to have fallen so far as to take up arms against one who cannot die or be harmed.  One who has demonstrated His love and peace and joy and giving for 1000 years.

We need to keep this in mind the next time we face trials and tribulations, persecution and hardships.  Maybe these things are like medications or chemo-therapy or radiation.  While they may be difficult for us to endure, they may be even harder on the sin in our lives and around us and they may be making us better, stronger, healed and saved in the long run.

My Answers:

9.
a.
goes out to deceive the nations in the 4 corners of the earth (Gog and Magog) and to gather them for battle
Men are easily lured by temptation and deceived – once deceived they are willing to stand and fight for the deception

b.
Thrown alive into the lake of burning sulfur tormented day and night for ever and ever

10.
a.
That after 1000 of Jesus’ reign, men were ready to rise up against Him. so easily defiled – with a sin nature

b.
through eyes first – we look, then body follows.  This was true with Eve and has remained.  The desires of the flesh and pride are strong sinful urges.

c.
Prayer – praying with others – mentor-ship – reading and studying God’s word

25.3 Revelation – Summary Judgment

In legal proceedings there is a motion known as a summary judgment.  It is basically an request made to a judge that says, assuming that everything the other part is arguing or presenting is valid, even if the best or worst things they claim are held as the truth, it still would not matter and we request that the court find for our position.

This is the situation we discover in the first resurrection.  Even if these martyrs and those chosen to help lead during the 1000 year reign of Christ were to be judged, and even if every sin, lie, wrongdoing, etc, etc, were held as accepted evidence, they still would be found not guilty.  Their stance, to lay down their life instead of recant their faith is prima-facie evidence.

But, here we must make a very important distinction.  It is not the act of being martyred that provides this evidence.  We need to be very, very clear on this point.  It is not the willingness to die for something you believe in that is somehow noble or worthy or causes the scales to tip in one direction in terms of eternal life or heavenly rewards.

Unfortunately, this misconception and lie is one the dragon uses.  This is how we have suicide bombers and terrorists and others deceived by lies.  These are not noble or honorable people, they are wicked, evil, lost souls who bought into a lie so thoroughly that they love it more than their own life.

The evidence is not in the act, no more that we are saved or lost by any single act.  The evidence is in the fact that they Holy Spirit was completely present in the lives of these Christian martyrs at the time they were killed for their faith.

Their deaths do not earn this this special resurrection or favor.  The life of the one in them at the moment of their death is the evidence and the proof – not of their own goodness or something deserved, but that they were cloaked in the redeeming blood of the lamb.

We should honor and learn from the Christian martyrs, but the teaching is not how to die, but how to live.

My Answers:

6.
a.
because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God.  Had not worshiped beast or image and no mark – They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years

b.
Standing strong leads to denigration and possible death by Satan, but to honor and life with Jesus –

7.
a.
The bringing back to life the martyrs – prior to 1000 year reign of Jesus

b.
the second death – damnation, judgment day – they have been found saved and holy – risen to live, a spiritual awakening and a new body

8.
Priests of God and of Christ, reign with Him for 1000 years – not just sitting around being bored – we are productive members of God’s society.

25.2 Revelation – Locked and Sealed

What a contrast our reading from Revelation 20:1-3 presents between Satan and Jesus.

Jesus’ willingly and knowingly came to earth for the purpose of descending into the grave.  He fully took on the cloak of mankind that He might face every temptation and experience every emotion known to man.  When it came time, He submitted himself to men to suffer, to be hung from a cross, to die, to be placed in a tomb which was then locked and sealed.

But no tomb could hold Him.  Not even death.  For in three days He rose again, of His own power (even though dead).  The stone was rolled back, the seal broken and He was free.  An angel sat at the empty tomb, not as a guard, but as a messenger of the good news.

In contrast, Satan never submitted himself to mankind.  Satan never did anything for the benefit of man.  Satan did not willingly descend into the Abyss, he was thrown there by an angel (note, it didn’t require God, but just an angel who had this level of power over the dragon).  Once the Abyss was locked and sealed, Satan, though alive, was powerless.  For 1000 years, until, by the will of God, he was set free, the serpent simply “was not”.

This dragon is all show, all deceit, all lies.  To us, it seems at times, that evil is winning.  We look around and see horrific acts in the world.  But even this deception is a lie, isolated and, while dreadful, not of consequence in the matters of eternity.  This mighty beast that roars like a line and wants to devour, can cause no long-term harm to any who see the light of God.  Even if He were granted to take a life, in the view of eternity, years on earth are less than a blink of an eye.

The message though is even deeper.  Satan’s rightful place is to be locked and sealed away in the Abyss.  The Holy Spirit’s rightful place is to be flowing through your heart and mind and pouring out into the world in joy and praise and ministering and love.  What a contrast!

 

My Answers:

3.
a.
An angel, key to the Abyss, a great chain in hand, seized dragon bound for 1000 years, threw into the Abyss locked & sealed

b.
1000 years

4.
evil (or anyone) can only do what God allows. God selects timing and limits and

5.
a.
Satan is a liar and murderer, the father of lies, corrupts man to believe lies and reject truth.  blinds the minds of believers so cannot see the true light.  prowls like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

b.
It does seem at times that Satan is winning, there is so much evil and wickedness in the world.  In addition to all the horrific things, this also causes a high degree of uncertainty and unrest – driving away peace and comfort.

24.5 – Scavenging

Our scripture for today gets a little gory, a little gruesome, but in a glorious way.  We are repulsed by the idea of these scavenging birds being filled with the flesh of those fallen soldiers who stood in opposition to Jesus when He returns.

But lets step back and really look at this.  The only thing of value from these individuals is their flesh.  They lived by the flesh.  They cherished flesh and bone over spirit.  They not only denied Jesus Christ but they took up arms against Him.

Who forms an army to fight against the eternal God?  What hope did they have?  Yet, in their delusion, they saw themselves as equals to Christ and His army.

But, as the facts show, they were truly deluded.  It did not take Christ’s army to defeat them.  Everyone fell by the sword of His mouth.

But even out of their hatred, out of their death, God still did not waste.  He prepared the scavenging birds to consume the only valuable part of these men.

The beast and false prophet did not even have this as a redeeming quality.  They were so fully corrupt that nothing was of value even to the scavenging birds.  Instead they were captured and thrown alive into the burning fiery lake of sulfur.

We hear of fire and brimstone warnings.  This is the source.  This is the lake of burning metal and noxious fumes.

The sword cuts and the flame purifies.  But for these standing against the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, there is nothing pure in them.

Do not be deluded by the wicked ways of the world.  Because they are common, because they are acceptable, because the provide worldly riches or fame, because they feel good – Does Not Make Them Right or True.

 

My Answers:

12.
captivity for the beast and false prophet – thrown alive into the burning sulfur of the fiery lake.  Rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse – birds gorged themselves on flesh

13.
Where they put their treasure, where they put their trust, the lack of attention to the things of God, the ridicule of believers, the denigration of God to an “also ran”, the contempt for anything holy

14.
Worship boldly – Do not hide, do not be hindered by wickedness (even that from those within the church), who speak in hurtful ways.