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.

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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”

23.2 Revelation – Brought to their knees

Another angel, with great authority and illuminating the world with the light of heaven, proclaims, “Fallen, Fallen is Babylon.”

But what does fallen mean?  Does it mean crumbled as from an earthquake?  Does it mean fallen as in an economic market crash?  Does it mean defeated in battle?  Or all of these?

The greek word that John uses in this quote is pipto.  There are a few other places it is used in the New Testament.  It is the word used to describe the wisemen in Matthew 2:11 who, upon meeting Jesus, “bowed down and worshiped.”  It is also the word that Satan uses in Matthew 4:9 when he tempts Jesus after his time of fasting in the wilderness, “All this I will give you if you bow down and worship me.”  It is also the word that is used repeatedly in Matthew 13 in the parable of the sower, “the seed fell upon…”

From these other uses, I think we get a deeper meaning of the proclamation of the angel.  This is not simply a setback for Babylon, it has been literally brought to its knees in submission to the light of God.

We see this further in the word that the NIV translates as “haunt”.  We think of haunt as a hangout, a meet-up, a place of congregation.  But the original Greek word as translated in the NKJV gives a stronger meaning.  It translates the word as “prison”.

The proclamation, not prediction, of the angel – a completed event not future possibility – is of a Babylon that has become its own prison of wickedness and brought to its knees in submission to the might of God.

My Answers:

3.
a.
Another angel coming down from heaven with great authority and illuminating the earth with his splendor, shouted with mighty voice

b.
Fallen, fallen – she was corrupt from the inside out in every way and now she is fallen

4.
a.
They do not provide, they consume.  They are never enough.  They leave the hollowness on the inside.  They drive people to communion with wickedness and lies and every unclean and detestable thing.  They seek to elevate self only, not creating community or helping the widows, orphans, poor, disenfranchised.

b.
The things that are of the kingdom to come and the will to be done.  The things of heaven, not of earth.  The Godly things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8)

21.5 Revelation – God’s justice and mercy under the new covenant

God’s justice and mercy under the new covenant

Yesterday we talked about how sin broke our perfect holy relationship with God, the same way a child breaks a window.  We discussed that while justice and mercy were consistent in the old testament as well as in the new, since there is only one God and He is unchanging, the “fix” under the old testament was insufficient.  A patch was put in place, but it wasn’t a fix.  We simply did not have the means to pay the price of the fix.

You see, the price of the repair was one perfect life, lived, and laid down in perfect, full, and holy obedience.  Only one man has ever lived such a life, and He is who starts the New Testament and the New Covenant.

By Jesus’ work, through His entire life, to deny temptation, to resist sin, culminating first in His sacrificial death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, Jesus fully paid the price to restore the perfect holy relationship between God and mankind.

By accepting the sacrifice of Jesus as the offering made for you, and agreeing to come under Him as your savior, you are not held responsible for the broken relationship, no payment is required and the relationship is restored.  Jesus perfectly repairs the broken glass on both sides of the window (God’s side and Man’s side).

Standing firm in resolve to not accept Jesus is to be, as my grandmother would have said, “way too big for your britches” and “your mouth is writing checks you cannot cash”.  If we deny to accept Jesus, then we tell God, we think the mud we flung up in the window is sufficient repair.  It is not only wrong, but it is insulting.  God, in mercy, holds back wrath even on these people, but only for a time.

In the final days, when Jesus comes again, He will come again to set things right.  He will wash the window of our spiritual relationship clean with the full power of God’s wrath.  All the mud and dirt will be removed and the window will once again sparkle as new.  But those who want to be judged by the dirt they produced, will no longer receive mercy and payment for sin will be required.  It is a payment that can never be fulfilled without Jesus, so they agonize forever in the debtor’s prison of Hell.

While this sounds horrible, it is what they want and choose, because the offer to accept Jesus’ payment was never rescinded.  Also, the removal of sin from the world, something that only makes sense to do along with a restriction on new sin entering, is something we who have accepted Jesus’ gift long for.

Don’t you want to see the beauty in the perfectly restored window of the perfectly restored relationship with God?  When John talks about the entire sea of glass before the throne alight with fire, this is what I think of.  No dings, not cracks, no smudges, no blurs, no imperfection of any kind, no dirt, no mud, no dust – a perfect shining brilliantly, like it is on fire, reflection of the perfectly restored relationship.

My Answers:

10.
a.
While we were sinners (i.e., did nothing to earn it), Christ died for us.  We are justified by His blood (found not-guilty) and saved from wrath through Him and reconciled to God.  On our own merits we deserve death but instead we are made alive in Christ, given a new life, a new body, a new spirit for eternity

b.
Christ bore our sins.  He, who was perfect, was not compelled to die – it was not a just sentence for Him since He was free of all transgression.  So, He did not suffer and die for His own sins, but for ours.  The fact that He paid the price is a ticket that He need not use but gives as a gift to each of us if only we accept it.

11.
humility, love, sacrifice, not conforming to the pattern of the world but being transformed to become holy, to be honest with God and ourselves, to confess our sins and truly repent (which includes change)

13.2 Revelation – Stopping the Wind

Stopping the Wind

Who can stop the wind?

Wind is an unseen but very real force.  It is constantly moving with both benefits and harm.  It helps cleanse the earth, move and dissipate smoke and polution.  It drives the rain clouds. It also produces tornadoes, hurricanes, down-gusts and micro-bursts.

Whether you see the stopping of the wind as a form of wrath in itself (by removing the beneficial properties of the wind) or a delay of wrath (by holding back the destructive power), either way, the power and ability to perform such a task in outside of our comprehension.

We can deflect the wind.  We can make shelters from the wind.  But we can’t hold it back.

But God can.  And Revelation 7 says that He will for His purpose.  He will send angels to hold back the wind and then another angel to seal 144,000.

Righteous harm will befall the earth.  It is inevitable and part of God’s plan of purification for the stain of sin on creation.  But God is in control even of the inevitable.  He can hold back even the wind for His purposes.  We see it in the end times and we see it in our daily lives.  All sin is against God and all of us sin.  We pile up debts of sin with no way to repay even the smallest.  God is not unjust.  He does not leave sin unpunished or unreconciled, but He holds back His right or setting the accounts right, so that the ones He love can be drafted to His service.

My Answers:

3.
standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds

4.
a.
destruction, invasion, wrath, power, anger

b.
Patience – protection of the earth, land, sea, trees and people to be sealed

c.
every day I sin and deserve the wrath of God.  All sin is against God.

18.5 Moses 18, Day 5

Multi-Sensory Experience

I was struck in our lesson today about how God connects with us not only on every level but through all of our senses.  The sight of the cloud by day and fire by night.  The smell of the burnt offerings and incense.  The feel of hands upon the scape goat.  The sound of the trumpet.  The taste of the unleaven bread and roasted lamb of passover.

It reminded me of a Sunday school lesson on Daniel in the Lion’s den from Daniel 6.  After the angel closes the mouths of the lions and Daniel survives his night locked in their den, King Darius issues a decree recorded in Daniel 6:26, “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.””

Our God is alive.  He is not some talisman or good luck charm.  He is not a rock we rub for good luck or a piece of wood we wave about.  He is not your lucky pair of gym shorts (although those may be alive in a different, gross way).  God is living.  He hears, He smells, He gives, He looks, He wept, He is jealous, He created, He has a mighty hand, He breathes, He speaks and He loves.  (some related verses from the bible)

God’s wants to connect with us in every way, not only in every sense (literally), but even ultra-sensory.  He wants to dwell within us, to wash us clean of our sin and to tend to and grow the garden of our heart.  He wants to continue doing this.  With special days of celebration.  With sabbath days and years of peace and rest. But also in every moment.  Accepting God isn’t an event that is done and complete.  It is more like a wedding or even more so, a birth.  It is the start of a whole new life in every way, shape and form.

What dead charms do you put trust in instead of God?  How are you approaching the living God?  Are you doing it with a repentant and humble heart or with pride in the good works you’ve accomplished?  Do you seek a real relationship with Him?

My Answers:

11.
a.
1 year (it was the beginning of the second year, passover occurs on the 14th day of the new year, or at least it did at that time until the Jewish new year was changed after the time of Jesus when the temple was destroyed).

b.
It was a commandment of God.  It was a commemoration of a critical event.  It only happened once a year.  It was defining.

c.
Sometimes get distracted but ask God to continue to show that He is present in the worship

12.
a.
the cloud covered it when the tabernacle was set up and looked like fire at night, whenever it lifted they set out til stopped

b.
2 trumpets, all called to order, 1 only heads of clans, when blast east tribes set out, when 2nd blast south side, sons of A blow

c.
with sight and sound, by what I see and hear

18.4 Moses 18, Day 4

Missed Blessings

My mom relayed a conversation she had with the pastor at her church.  She was talking with him about attendance at church service.  She wanted him to know that there were some days that she just didn’t feel up to making it to church.  It wasn’t because she didn’t like the music or the liturgy of the service.  It wasn’t anything against his sermons.  It wasn’t because she was behind on tithing. To use her term, “some days I’m just old.”  I thought his words back to her were very wise and thoughtful.  He told her that if she could make it at all, come for the last 2 minutes of the service and if she couldn’t make that to call him.  The final part of the service is a benediction.  Most of the time, it is the exact same words that God told Moses to tell Aaron to say.  The pastor explained to her that this was a special blessing for her.  While it was said to everyone in attendance, it was an individual blessing, something special and specific for each individual.  If she wasn’t there to receive the blessing, she would miss out on it.  If she simply couldn’t physically be there, then she should call him and he could give her her blessing.

When we recite the blessing in Number 6:24-26 we forget verse 27. “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

These weren’t just words or good wishes.  While it is a “good word” or benediction, it is more than that.  God told Moses to tell Aaron to “put my name on the people”.  God didn’t say and I might bless them, He said “and I will bless them.”

Aaron didn’t originate the blessing.  Moses didn’t originate the blessing.  God originated the blessing.  But, like in many other things, He allowed the priests, who were brothers to the community, to participate.

When we think about church attendance we tend to focus on the sermon or prayers or communion or songs.  All of those are great and help us pour our heart out to God.  But the blessing – that is something special, a gift from God given through the minister, specifically for you.

What blessings are you missing out on because you aren’t showing up?  When you receive a blessing are you grabbing on to it and pasting it into your heart?  Do you accept the gift? Do you bow your head or raise your hand and receive His name being written on to you? Do you desire His radiance, His grace, His peace, His blessing?

My Answers:

8.
When parting friends, blessing to children

9.
It is for God’s glory not my own.  Give the required tithe plus more. – Tribe of Judah gave first 4th in line, Reuben, Simeon, Levi… But also the lineage of Jesus.

10.
a.
Given wholly to God who took them in place of the firstborn Israelites.  Given as a gift to Aaron and his sons to do the work

b.
1. God can do what He wants (He is God), 2. From the passover every firstborn belongs to God, set apart.  The Levites were taken in their place

c.
25-50