27.5 Revelation – Patiently Restored

I’ll confess, I struggle with God’s timing.  I pray and I patiently wait for God to answer prayer, through guidance, through direction, through provision, through an open or closed door.  And, I wait very patiently for about 20 minutes.  Sometimes I can stay patient for a day, sometimes even a couple of days. Waiting is hard.

Yet, as I confess and whine about how hard it is to wait on God’s timing, I’m struck by God’s patience revealed in Revelation 21.

At the fall of mankind, at the first sin of Adam and Eve, and actually before Adam and Eve were even created because of God’s omniscience, God knew exactly how He would restore the relationship.

God had created mankind in His image to live in harmony and communion with Him.  Through sin and disobedience we rejected God.  If Adam and Eve, or any descendants, had been allowed to earth from the tree of life, they would not have died, meaning they would have lived in a state of eternal separation.  Without death, there could be no repayment of the original gift of God (life), which Adam and Eve had rejected.  Without repayment, there could be no fairness or justice.  Without fairness and justice, God would not be God.

But keep in mind that God is totally in control.  He could have prevented the sin in the first place.  He could have immediately sent Jesus, died, resurrected, defeated death, banished satan and  produced Creation 2.0.  But He waited.

God has waited patiently for thousands of years.  God’s waiting has allowed you and I to have life.  God’s waiting has multiplied and magnified the body of faithful followers.  God continues to wait until every last human who would ever be born who would have chosen to accept the gift of grace and faith and mercy would be born and make that choice.

And that time of waiting, those thousands of years of the history of mankind and of all creation, in the timeline of eternity, is less than the blink of God’s eye.  The next time I’m impatient and whining about waiting on God’s timing, I need to remember this and blink and take to heart the admonishment of Jesus in Matthew 28:6 to the apostles on the boat in a storm (a good description of what my life feels like sometimes), “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

My Answers:

12.
the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal.  John 7:27-28, rev 21:6 To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.

13.
a.
Because of Sin, separated from God, but if  ate of the tree of life then wouldn’t die and no restorative payment by death

b.
perfect communion with God in perfect peace and without sin – paradise

14.
Heaven

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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

24.4 Revelation – Eyes Like Blazing Fire

In Luke 11, the words of Jesus are recorded, “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. The eye is the lamp of the body.  If your eyes are healthy (generous), your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are unhealthy (stingy), your whole body will be full of darkness.  See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

Our eyes are organs that soak in what we choose to look at.  If we fill our vision with things of this world, with wickedness and lust, with hatred and sin, then we fill our selves up with darkness.

But the eyes are also a reflection back to the world of our souls.  When our souls are filled with the spirit, a light shines out from us.  A light of joy, a light of happiness and generosity, of giving and of peace.

When we look around us at the world today we see the effects of sin.  We see a living Babylon and lots of darkness.  This reminds of the words of Leonard Sweet in his book AquaChurch 2.0: Piloting your Church in Today’s Fluid Culture (pg 58)

“Light illumines the darkness.  If there’s darkness, the blame should be attached where it belongs; not to the world that is dark but to the church, which is failing to provide the light.”

The answer to the darkness in the world is not going to be found in the darkness.  It is only going to be found by the power of the Holy Spirit within the called, chosen and faithful followers of Christ.  It is only through shining that light that darkness is set back.

John notes in our passage today that: Christ’s eyes are like blazing fire.

Let’s reflect that light!

 

My Answers:

9.
Jesus – They are attributes of Him and also point to His eternal place as a person of the trinity, not only at creation but active in it and active in everything since – He holds the stars in His hand.

10.
His name is the Word of God.  He is unique.  His name is truly unlike any name.  His name is that of God, formed into a word to be pronounced and proclaimed by all mankind.
His blazing eyes tell me he sees and knows all and rage burns behind that vision.
His double edged sword is Him, the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Heb 4:12

11.
I will read and learn His Word and call on Him and use it everyday, on my tongue and thoughts.  I will quit attempting to hide from Him (a pointless act).  I will recognize that He is alive and active and He alone is judge

21.2 Revelation – Saved not Spoiled

Saved not Spoiled

Have you been around a spoiled child?  The one who is at the grocery store with mom or dad and throwing a total temper tantrum over the most minor thing and mom or dad immediately bend to their wishes?

Most of us understand that love does not mean always getting what you want.  Sometimes the things we want are bad for us.  Sometimes we need to go through difficulty and challenges to build our muscles (physical and spiritual).  Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes the answer is no.  Sometimes the answer would be yes, but the way we go about asking the question prompts a no.

When God adopts us as his children, that doesn’t mean we get whatever we want.  Even though God’s resources are unlimited, He understands that we need limits and boundaries.  Not a lot of them, but a few to define the path and keep us safe.

While God’s mercy has no limitations, He elects to deploy it in ways that also embody the most grace for us.  Grace as a parent who bends down to the child and firmly emphasizes, I know you want it, but the answer is still no, now let’s go on and do the other wonderful things that I have planned for your day instead of wallowing on this dirty ground.

While God is also just, we need to not fool ourselves into believing we do anything to earn God’s favor.  Like a newborn infant, we cry, we throw up, we soil our diapers and that is about it.  Our greatest talent is cooing.  God’s provision is not a reward – we are incapable of providing God with anything He does not already have – it is again like a parent of that child.

My Answers:

3.
a.
Justice, dispensing just payment for actions and states both positive and negative, fair, equitable, honest, doing what is right
In our world today, justice is what is right in the eyes of man and, in particular, those in power.  It is delivered cloaked and unevenly.  Those demanding tolerance are normally the least tolerant of views unlike their own.

Mercy, compassionate, lenient, forgiving, dispensing grace, charity, safe quarter
Mercy is becoming an expectation or entitlement.  “I made bad decisions so you should not hold that against me” Mortgage crisis, student debt. – But the church still responds to those in need, including widows and orphans.

b.
God is slow to anger, abounding in love, forgiving wickedness, but also just and does not leave any sin unpunished

4.
Countless times of mercy, every day I’m alive is a day wrapped in mercy
Justice in the repercussions of choices, such as arthritis and obesity

20.5 Revelation – Wake Up Call

Wake Up Call

I had a college roommate who was a sound sleeper.  A lot of it may have had to do with the hours he kept, but trying to help wake him up, particularly after he had stayed up late cramming for a test, was daunting.  As his alarm blared and his backup alarm roared, he snored.  Yelling at him escalated to turning the lights on, escalated to throwing things at him.  Finally, the only thing that would awaken him was to literally shake him out of the bed.

I was reminded of this in the earthquake that accompanies the final bowl judgment.  It is the ultimate final wake-up call.  No more gentle nudges.  No more sing-song wake-ups.  No more bird and wave sound alarms.  This is a “your house is on fire and you are going to burn up (for all eternity) wake up shake”.

We tend to focus on the power and the terribleness of these final judgments/  But isn’t it also reassuring that even up to shaking people out of the planet, with no place to hide under the covers, God pours out His desire on mankind to wake up and repent and turn to Him?

And isn’t more amazing and far more terrible that even in the grasp of God shaking them violently to wake up and repent, they still refuse?

My Answers:

12.
a.
Jesus

b.
The heavens and the skies opened and the earth quaked like nothing before in all creation – islands disappear and mountains fall

c.
personally seen was aftermath of a Tornado in Joplin.  heard of would be the Japan tsunami

d.
Terrifying – there will be no place to turn or hide – but more so terrifying is the fact that they still curse God

13.
a.
To be ready and alert.  To not follow the worlds ways and be deceived – to joyfully anticipate God

b.
Working – prepared to fulfill duties – not sleeping on the job

14.
Amazingly they still curse God rather than repent.  It is a total denial of God’s justice replaced by their own.  They want to be God.

20.2 Revelation – Knowing God

A motivational book I’ve been reading called “18 Minutes” presented an interesting point.  We are often coached to make goals.  These are often “I will” statements.  This year “I will” lose weight.  “I will” go to the gym.  “I will” complete my BSF lesson each day.  But the author of the book pointed out that these seldom work because they are set in the future.  They are prone to excuses of our future self compared to our present circumstances.  They are noble and create great amounts of guilt and angst, but they don’t work.

Instead, the author recommends addressing your own impression of how you see yourself: your own attributes.  I am a person who eats healthy.  I am a person who exercises every day.  I am a person who spends time in the word of God every day.

God is the great “I am”.  To be the Christians we want to be, that we are called and commissioned to be, we must start with the “I am’s” of God.

We see these throughout the song of Moses and the Lamb.  God is Lord.  God is Almight.  God is great and does marvelous deeds.  God is King, etc., etc. etc.

When our attention turns to these, our full attention not just our future self, then it prompts us to desire to praise God for these attributes and tell others about Him.  If you are a person who fully believes that God alone is Holy, that He is perfectly perfect and nothing else is, how can you not stand in awe of that?  How can you stand idle while friends and family sing praises of anyone or anything that isn’t God as if they are?

It is not just saying the words, that is simply wrote repetition.  When you take the attributes to heart and fully believe them, they prompt transformation and maturity.  You grow when you allow your heart to see more of God.

 

My Answers:

3.
another great and marvelous sign: 7 angels with the 7 last plagues.  A sea of glass glowing with fire, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast, they held harps given them by God and sang Moses’ song

4.
1. God is Lord, Almighty with great and marvelous deeds – All powerful God does amazingly wonderful things
2. God is King of the Nations, Just and True – Our leader/king of heaven and earth is honest, fair and consistent
3. God’s name is glory, worthy of fear by all, Lord – Glorious God is master of all and deserving of all respect
4. God alone is holy – God stands alone as being perfectly perfect, no other gods, no other person compares
5.God’s righteous acts are now known and all worship Him – The veil is lifted and the full nature of the creator has been revealed to everyone.  The veil disguised God to allow those who wished to select to deny Him could.  If not for the veil, it would be impossible for mankind to make that choice when faced with His fully revealed holiness

5.
Praise Him for opening my eyes and heart.  Praise Him for His mercy to all – that none are expressly prohibited from coming to Him, they need only see through the veil and accept the gift into their hearts.  He gives everyone a just and fair opportunity to make this choice.

18.4 Revelation – Awful Parents

Awful Parents

When you were a child…

Did you learn how to ride a bicycle?  Did you ever fall and skin your knees or elbows?

Did you ever play sports?  Did you get hurt, scraped up, bruised, broken bone?

Did you ever go to other places and have friends?  Did they ever say anything that hurt you or caused you worry, angst or sorrow?

If any of these things happened, you must have had horrible parents, right?  I mean, wasn’t it there job to keep you safe?  Wasn’t it their job to protect you and love you?  Wasn’t it their job to keep you from pain and hurt, either physical or emotional?

Other than some people who are either in denial or came from a very broken household, we know this is ridiculous.  Normal, loving parents want their children to be safe and secure and protected.  Parents hurt when their kids hurt.  Parents cry when their kids cry (maybe later, but all the same).  But normal loving parents also want their kids to grow and mature.  They want their kids to be strong physically and emotionally.  They want the best for their children.

To do this, they have to allow their kids to enter into calculated risks.  The parents still go first, scope things out, do all they can to limit the scope of the risk, but they don’t eliminate it.  Eliminating the risk is to live in a bubble.  Eliminating the risk is to limit growth.

God loves us enough to do the same.  Jesus came to earth and experienced absolutely every temptation and hardship ever known to man – and overcame them all.  Not so that He could prove He was perfect – He was perfect and was not subject to judgment by anyone else.  No, He did it as a gift to us.  There is no temptation that cannot be defeated, with Jesus.  There is no hurt or pain that, with Jesus, cannot be overcome.

Because of this, if we accept Jesus as our loving parent, He gives this gift to us.  He doesn’t hold us back from temptation and hardship – He doesn’t lock us into a bubble.  Instead, He goes first.  He scopes out the situation eliminating all unnecessary risks.  He stands by us.  He guides us through the difficulty so that we can grow and become more Holy and more like Him.

That is and Awesome Parent!

My Answers:

8.
Psa – failing heart but strength in God – physical strength is insufficient in comparison to God’s might
Prov – Discipline and rebuke are acts of a loving father who delights in His son
Rom5 – Suffering->perseverance->character ->hope … builds strength
Rom8 – as co-heir of Christ => sharing in suffering -> sharing in glory
Rom8 – All things (suffering included) are used by God to transform His beloved to be justified & glorified
Phil – In light of the worth of Jesus, all worldly possessions and prizes are but junk
Heb – suffering is a means to distill perfection (refinement), Jesus underwent it for eternal salvation

9.
Not to question or doubt the existence of God, but to question or doubt my thinking about who I thought He was and how I thought He should act – there have been times of question of why those who seek good suffer while those practicing evil flourish and prosper, there have been times when I was angry with God and more when I was impatient with Him, “how long, Lord…?”