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

21.4 Revelation – God’s justice and mercy under the old covenant

God’s justice and mercy under the old covenant

Our lessons for this week on days 4 and 5 demonstrate that God has always been a God of Justice and a God a Mercy.  There is not a “God of the Old Testament” and a “God of the New Testament.”  There is one God, eternal, immutable, consistent.

But that doesn’t mean that something amazing didn’t happen with the dawning of the New Testament.  And, something else amazing awaits us at the final days when Christ returns.

To illustrate this, let’s consider an analogy of a broken window.

Imagine that you broke a window in God’s house.  That is not OK.  Every child knows this.  You can’t just run and hide.  You can’t lie about it.  You have to be responsible.  You have to say your sorry.

But, it can’t stop there.  Being sorry is important, but God still has a busted window.  That’s not right.  But, we have an even bigger problem: we do not have the means to fix the window.  Think of it as an ancient stained glass window.

Under the covenant of the old testament, when the Jews would turn to God and confess their sins, and offer a sacrifice, God would be merciful and not require payment for the broken window.  But, it was still broken.  Sure, there was a temporary patch put in place.  A little duct tape, some boards, but it wasn’t the same – it wasn’t fixed.

Justice existed:  God saw the window, God required confession and repentance, There was no denial about it being broken and who broke it.

Mercy existed: God provided forgiveness and held back collection of payment (a payment that could not be made).

But, there was still a problem – the window remained broken.  Every one of our attempts to fix it on our own, was the same as throwing mud at the window, hoping enough would stick that it would be noticeable or that we would cover up the window enough that we wouldn’t be reminded of it.

In case you haven’t already made the leap, the window represents our perfect relationship with God – the relationship that was crafted by God in the garden of Eden.  We broke it through sin.  Repentance and sacrifice are ways of confessing our sorrow, but our relationship, like the the window is still broken.  Our self-righteousness and continued sin are acts of hurling additional insult onto the broken relationship, like mud on the window.

But, stay tuned, because, while God does not change, He did have a plan.

My Answers:

8.
a.
God knew the character of the Israelites and He was just in his judgment to kill them all and start over, but He also was merciful and responded to Moses’ plea.   But there was also justice because they did not receive the handwritten tablets of God, but instead later received Moses’ scribed replicas.  The calf was destroyed, ground up and all were forced to drink the bile of their sin.  They did not receive the full blessings of God, but they did also not receive what was deserved.

b.
He accepted the plea of Moses and restrained His wrath.  Moses advocated for them, not for their merits but for God’s glory

c.
No, they lived

9.
He judged them rightly, justly, correctly.  but He held back the execution of the judgment through His mercy

15.4 Revelation – Tribe, Language, People, Nation

Tribe, Language, People, Nation

Revelation 5:9 – And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation

Revelation 7:9 – After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

Revelation 11:9 – For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial.

I found it interesting how thoroughly God has stirred the pot of humanity.  Today when we think about people from a certain part of the world or who speak a certain language, we make assumptions about their religion.  But by the end times, none of this will make a difference.  Jesus, the Lamb of God, has paid the price of sin for all mankind, regardless of race, language, nationality, or family and tribe.

However, as amazing as that is, it is even more troubling that there will be people from every tribe, language, people and nation who not only reject Jesus, but do so to the degree that they dance in the streets and exchange gifts celebrating the death of God’s own witnesses.  How sad that no group, however big or small, is “all in”.  Every group has members who will be part of these who reject the Lord.

The challenge in this is to think about the prejudices we hold.  Are we more or less likely to witness to one tribe or nationality than another?  Do we make an assumption that we should or should not make talk about Jesus to someone who speaks a certain language?

We will truly all be brothers and sisters in unity with our Lord.

 

My Answers

9.
a.
attack, overpower and kill them.  God preserved them in death for 3 1/2 days and then brought them back to life and raised them up, in the body, to heaven in a cloud

b.
Earthquake and 1/10th of the city collapsed.  7000 people killed in the earthquake

10.
a.
John 11: Jesus is the resurrection. Whoever believes will live even though they die and then never die
John 14: Jesus has prepared a place for His believers in God’s house, He will come back to take us there
1 Cor: Christ is the first fruits over death, it will be destroyed as all else is under Jesus
Phil: We are citizens of heaven, waiting to be transformed into His glorious body
1 Thes: dead raised first, after those still alive will be caught up with them in the clouds
1 John: We don’t know our transformed bodies yet but will when we see Jesus again, like Him

b.
Kids

14.4 Revelation – Satan Hates

Satan Hates

Man was made in the image of God.  Gen 1:26 says, “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…”

Satan, and all evil and wickedness, hates God.  It detests Him and rejects Him and all His ways.  It loathes the light and the truth and hides from both.

When satan and the demonic and evil forces corrupt men and turn mankind to their ways, they do not then love these wicked and sinful men.  They do not look upon them with love and brotherhood and admiration.  They detest them because, no matter how evil and wicked they become, these men still have an appearance of the likeness of God within them.

Evil will use men, but it won’t have grace for men.  It does not seek to fill them up and make them whole in fellowship – it only wants to cause hurt and harm.

When the Abyss is opened in Revelation 9, and the beasts of the deep emerge, they show no kinship with wicked men.  But God and God alone puts limits on them; He restrains them and the amount of pain and the duration they are allowed.  God doesn’t distort the reality of what they are, but even in this, He shows mercy and restraint.

Do not be deceived by the lies of evil.  There is no party in hell.  There is no moral code of conduct among the wicked that bonds them together.  There is no brothership or kinship or family.  There is no laughter among the sinners.

But, the lies we allow ourselves to believe can so totally shape our perception of reality that we believe the lie.  Notice it in our passage today.  Even under 5 months of physical and emotional agony like we can hardly imagine, the people did not seek life, they only sought death.  They didn’t seek light, they only saw darkness.

Death and darkness, sin and wickedness, never provide answers or relief – only more rejection and pain.  As hard as sin tries to shape mankind into the image of Satan, we are still rejected and hated by the demons of darkness.

 

My Answers:

9.
Beasts and torment, suffering, death of people – wrath was on humans not on the land, sky, sea, air or other creatures, power tails

10.
a.
the grass, plants, tree or any that had the seal of God on their foreheads

b.
Not allowed to kill but only to torture them for five months, and the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes.  – Who would want that pain and agony.  God does not wish it for them, but allow their king to do it to his people.

11.
demons, idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone or wood (all man-made).  Idols that cannot see or hear or walk.  Worship and prize what comes from man but discount or deny what comes from God.

13.4 Revelation – Flood Gates

Flood Gates

There are dozens if not hundreds of specific examples in the bible when God withheld His righteous wrath.  I know within my own life, the tally of moments that have been wasted on things other than serving Him is monumental.  The number of sins against God are an unbearable weight.  Multiply that by the multitudes of people and time and the amount of wrath that has been withheld is unfathomable.

Yet, God waits.  God is patient and kind.  God loves.  God is the father of the story of the prodigal son.  And, God is just.

When the flood gates of wrath are opened on the Day of the Lord, I don’t think we have any comprehension of how things will be.  I’m grateful for the book of Revelation and for this study so I’m more equipped to recognize the signs and heed the warnings.  I’m even more drawn to praise God.

My Answers:

8.
Number 16, where Aaron ran through the camp with incense and the Lord stopped the plague.  God is willing to turn back His anger and hold His righteous wrath.  He is patient and forgiving, but not unjust.

9.
I give thanks to Him for His patience and for forgiveness, not from what I have done but from what Jesus did.

11.5 Revelation – Resisting the Truth

Resisting the Truth

There is a part of me that desires for God to treat us as nothing more than infants.  To feed us.  To care for our every need.  To unconditionally welcome and embrace us regardless of the level of temper tantrum and rejection we show.

I particularly want this when a friend, neighbor or family member rejects the calling of the Holy Spirit and declines to accept the gift of the saving blood of Jesus Christ.  Especially when that person has died.  I want the delusion that God will treat that person like the helpless infant that doesn’t know what they are doing and to just go ahead and save them anyway.

But this is not the God that Peter speaks of and it is not the God shown throughout any part of the bible.  God expects us to grow up and make choices.  We are not helpless infants.  We have been given facts, words, laws, science and all of nature and the entire cosmos to confirm that God is God.  God is a teacher.  God does love us, and He loves us so much that He gives us the ability to either accept or reject Him.  And, He then loves us so much that He is willing to honor and accept that choice.

The God that Peter speaks of is one who is patiently waiting.  Who allows His adult child to go off and squander the health and wealth He has given them, to treat Him as if He were dead, but still wait by the door longing for that child to return (see parable of the prodigal son).

As much as I may want all my loved ones to be saved, I recognize that God does, too.  And, unlike me at times, He loves them enough to honor their decisions and choices while holding the door open for as long as is possible.

God is not slow, but He is exceptionally patient.

My Answers:

13.
a.
to live holy and godly lives

b.
scoffing and following their own evil desires, mockery

c.
Things have not “always” been as they are now – there was a creation event

14.
God is not slow, He is patient, not wanting anyone to perish but to come to repentance.  There are still people who can and will be saved.

15.
a.
I like to think that all of my family and friends will be judged to be believers despite the evidence I have seen in their words and ways.

b.
To repent – to rend my heart not my clothing – in other words, not repentance for show, but repentance at the soul level

 

06.2 Revelation – Standing the Higher Ground

Standing the Higher Ground

The church in Philadelphia is commended for having kept the word of Jesus and having not denied His name.  They had kept his command to endure patiently.

Our lesson for today discussed taking a stand for truth in a culture hostile to our Lord.  Clearly something in line with what was taking place in Philadelphia.

In the book Sit, Walk, Stand, Watchman Nee points out that the action of standing is a defensive posture, not an offensive posture.  We are called to Stand with Jesus, not to rush out and attack wickedness, but because of the attacks of wickedness.

Jesus is Holy.  Jesus is True.  Jesus hold the keys or rulership both to the church on earth and to everlasting life in heaven.  Everything belongs to Him already.  Especially the good and noble, the pure and unstained, the sacred things.

Even if we look to the description of the Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18, everything in the list can be used for defense, even the sword of the Spirit which can block the blow of another sword  or club.

Last year, in the study of Moses, we saw time and again how Moses and Aaron, when under attack, would immediately assume their battle positions.  That position wasn’t, however, what we would normally think of.  Their first battle ready position was to get on the knees or fall face down in prayer to the Lord.  They understood, the principle that would ask, why use a slingshot (our own power) when you have access to cannons and high power weapons (God’s power)?  Why stand behind a paper wall, when you can stand in the shelter of God’s fortress?

Jesus is not commending the church for crusades and battles, He is commending them for continuing to stand with Him even in the face of great persecution, even when they have little strength.  In such action, they are promised to be spared from the larger onslaught attack that is to come to test the inhabitants of the whole world.

My Answers:

3.
a.
deeds, kept word, not denied name (although little strength), kept command, endures patiently

b.
attack from inside, persecution, temptation to deny Jesus

4.
a.
i: dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred
ii: Factual, Accurate, without variation, in perfect alignment with the factual and real; loyal and faithful
III: the keys to the king of the jews (God’s chosen people), ruler, master of the house, guardian of the door

b.
The key to eternal life.  The key that unlocks our heart so that the Holy Spirit may abide in us.  The key to love and redemption

5.
Those who refuse to obey Jesus – regardless of heritage

6.
a.
He desires joining, raising up, holiness, power, grace, repentence, obedience, joy / they seek to impart the opposite

b.
By choosing that path and then relying on His spirit, His words and His power.  Through actions and witnessing

04.4 Revelation – Incomprehensible Eternal Presence

Incomprehensible Eternal Presence

In July 2015, NASA’s New Horizon passed Pluto sending amazing photos back to Earth.  With it, there were numerous news stories attempting to explain the size and scale of the mission.  It is hard for us to comprehend since New Horizon was traveling at speeds upward of 36,000 miles per hour and it still took 9 years to travel the 3.1 Billion miles to Pluto.

As CBS News wrote, “Imagine the sun the size of a quarter on the goal line of a football field.  Now imagine all of the planets stretched out in a straight line from the sun.

Earth, just 0.009 inches across at this scale, would be positioned around the three-yard line. Mighty Jupiter, just one tenth of an inch across, would be “orbiting” inside the near red zone just past the 15-yard line. Ringed Saturn would be just inside the 30. The outer gas giants, Uranus and Neptune, would be orbiting on the opponent’s side of the field, 57 and 90 yards from the sun.

Pluto would be an invisible speck one thousandth-of-an-inch across 18 yards beyond the opponent’s goal line. At this scale, the next nearest star would be some 458 miles away.”

Yet, Jesus is bigger.  The letter to the church of Smyrna points out that Jesus is the first and the last, who died and came to life again.  He is across all space and time.  All things were created through Him and He is present, everlasting, in all eternity. He is one of the three persons of the Eternal, all Knowing and all Powerful God.

In the vastness of that eternal space and time, our entire existence, not just you or me, but all mankind since the creation, is immeasurably small – smaller than a single vibration of a soundwave.  Talk about blinking and missing it.

Yet. Yet, Jesus is present fully in our here and now.  His love and presence is so big that He is fully in the smallness of our lives.  And His presence is so great, that He does not consider it small.

He became lower than the angels to walk this earth only to die for our sins.  He chooses to hear and answer our prayers.  He chooses to stay active in creation and He cares deeply and fully about each and everyone one of us during each and every moment of each and every day.

Mind – Blown!

My Answers:

11.
who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again
Jesus is eternal – He is a person of the Trinity for ever.  He is the first and last of the earth (at the beginning and the end).  He is the one who saved mankind by dying and coming back to life.

12.
a.
your afflictions and your poverty – yet you are rich.  He knows about the slander of those who claim to be Jews but are not God’s chosen people but of the synagogue of Satan

b.
Difference between man’s view and God’s view.  They lacked earthly resources, but they had abundance of spiritual resources.  They did not have earthly savings, but they had treasures in Heaven.

04.2 Revelation – Tolerating Wicked People

Tolerating Wicked People

The buzz-word of our time seems to be tolerance.  Tolerance has been positioned to be not only a virtue, but a requirement of modern society.  Tolerance is defined as a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

But, your tolerance toward another does not grant that person the right to do wrong or perform wickedness nor does it require you to tolerate those wrongs or wicked acts.

Jesus commends the church of Ephesis because, “you cannot tolerate wicked people.”

I think the ways to reconcile this in our lives are as follows:

  1. Purposefully eliminate filling your life (what you read, listen to, think about and discuss) with the wickedness of the world.  There are far better things to fill your life with rather than the latest celebrity news and debauchery.  It can feel like we are swimming in soundbites of sin because that is what we have allowed to surround our lives.  Turn it off.  Spend less time on tabloid trash (or no time) and use that time to serve God by drinking in His Word and pouring out His love to others around you.
  2. Do not be drawn into the notion that practicing tolerance is the same as being accepting of every sin someone wishes to continue to perform.  It is possible to consider sinful behavior sin without hating the person committing the sin.  Jesus modeled this.  While we were sinners, He first loved us and died for us, paying the price for our sin before we did anything.  Jesus was inviting to sinners, but he absolutely did not encourage them to continue sinning.
  3. Do not allow your own sin to disqualify you from being able to stand against wickedness.  Those in the family of Jesus are not perfect (yet), but we are saved and forgiven.  We desire to continue to be transformed into holiness and desire to sin less.  The fact that you are not to cast the first stone, does not equate to giving up your right to believe that sin is sin.  It is not judging others to hold onto the core values of right and wrong.  That is a form of perseverence.
  4. Like the church in Revelation 2, test those who claim to be bringing a “new truth”.  If their teaching and preaching is not consistent with all the words of scripture, it is false teaching.

Will doing these things be an easy path?  In our times, the most intolerant people seem to be those refuse to tolerate beliefs by others that anything and everything they want to do is acceptable and right.  Tolerance is expected for all beliefs except the one that says that sin is sin and we require a savior from our sin.

But whose acceptance and praise do you desire?  From those on social media and in the news or from the one who holds the stars in His hand?  Do not grow weary.  Persevere.

 

My Answers:

3.
a.
The 7 stars are the angels of the 7 churches and the 7 lampstands are the 7 churches

b.
The words John writes to the churches are the Words of Jesus, who holds the churches in His hand and knows all

4.
1. Deeds   2. Hard Work   3. Perseverence   4. Cannot tolerate wicked people   5. Tested those who claim to be apostles but are not (and found them false). 6. Persevered 7. Endured hardships for Jesus’ name 8. Have not grown weary

I desire to have less tolerance for wicked people.  They tend to dominate news and discussions – there are better things!

5.
examine the scriptures to see that it is true, do not conform to the world but stay transformed to know God’s will, if speaking by the spirit then praising Jesus as the Lord (always), test by actions and share good things with their instructor, test against scripture, know right from wrong by being fed daily by the bible

6.
To, regardless of consequences, stand firm in the name of Jesus.  To witness the gospel.  To speak boldly and act differently.  To not back down.  Not for own sake – but for Jesus’ name.  To accept the persecution and hardships that come from that.