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

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.

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

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.

23.4 Revelation – Rejoice or Lament?

We see a stark contrast in the attitudes of men in this section of Revelation 18.  The kings, the merchants and the providers of transportation of goods mourn and lament the fall of Babylon.  They received their riches from the wickedness and excesses of this city and people.  They placed their futures, their lives and their riches in relationships with this wicked place.  When it falls, they feel loss.  They feel loss and shock, that something they were so thoroughly invested in could fall completely in one hour.

Invested is the key word.  For believers with investments in the kingdom of Heaven, of eternity with the Lord, the actions of Babylon have been that of terrorist.  The throw stones to break windows, they harass and threaten, kidnap and even kill.  Even though Babylon is powerless in contrast to the might of the Kingdom of God, they stand in ugly opposition to what is good and right and pure and sacred.  Those with investments in the Kingdom, rejoice when this is put to an end.  They rejoice the wickedness is stopped and God’s Kingdom will cover the earth.  It is something we have prayed for since little children:  Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.

The dawn of the answer to the fulfillment of that prayer is a time for rejoicing by God’s people.  Do not lament.  Do not fear.  Do not carry guilt for your actions and connections with the Babylons of the Earth.  Instead, repent (forgive us our sins), and Rejoice.  For thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, Forever.

My Answers:

8.
a.
Kings, Merchants, sea captains – each benefited directly from her sinful ways.  They were parties to the excesses.  Merchants had grown accustomed to her markets.  Transporters had carried (at a profit) her excesses to her.

b.
True treasure is found in heaven, not on earth.  We are only temporary renters here.  Why spend our time, energy, resources on temporary housing when we can send it ahead to our eternal home.  The things of this earth – all things of this earth – are temporary and subject to loss and destruction.

9.
God has judged her and the judgment she imposed on you.  It is a leveling of the scales of justice – God setting things right.  It also means an end to the continued wickedness of Babylon poured out on all who follow God

10.
Crimes against children of all forms and in all places.  Abuse, neglect, malnutrition, barriers to education, false-teachers and ungodly educators.  All evil and injustice is bad, but those committed against children are blatant acts against God because they are aimed at the innocent, those with no ability to protect themselves or respond.

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)

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…?”

18.2 Revelation – Because of Sin

Because of Sin

Why would God…?  What kind of God…?  We’ve all heard the statements made by non-believers as they judge God and His actions as an argument for why they don’t believe.

But, let’s face it.  Sin and pain and suffering were not God’s desire for the world.  His desire in creation, especially in the creation of mankind, was to invite another being to join the Trinity in love and holiness and fellowship and unity.  Things were good.  God even said those exact words as he completed the days of creation.

But for true love to occur, it cannot be forced and for it not to be forced there must be a choice.  Unfortunately, mankind chose to break the one rule in the garden and we have subsequently chosen to break every other rule and commandments ever since.  In pure love, God allows us to turn from Him and defy Him time and time again.  He allows us to follow the path of disobedience, a path that always leads to death, eternal death and eternal separation from Him.

Mercifully, God also gives us pain and sorrow and suffering.  Mercifully, because can you imagin the depravity of a world without those warning signs and hinderances to disuade mankind from fully following the path of sin?  Just as pain is a warning sign to prevent fatal injury, these things also serve as warning signs of turning from God.

But, we now live in a time when sin who so saturated creation, that pain and sorrow and suffering surround us.  It threatens to swallow our lives and draw us into darkness.  But, God is bigger than the effects of sin.  God is bigger than any pull of darkness.  God is big enough that no matter how far we try to run and hide from Him, He is only a whisper away.  God is big enough that when we see the error in trying to make ourselves the judge of God and instead recognize our own horrible sin, He does not use the same criteria we were using to judge us, but, instead, forgives us because of the saving gift of His son.

My Answers:

3.
Because of sin – all have sinned and all live in a broken world filled with the sin of man over the ages.  We are people who chose to rebel against God and have continued that pattern continuously ever since.

4.
physical suffering with medical condition and surgery.  It brought me closer to God.  It renewed my spirit and the hope and acceptance that my family showed through it was a witness to others of the peace of God.

5.
God is greater and never fails.  His purpose is to save and bring all back into unity with Him, but He honors choice.  Through any challenge and suffering He is always present and does not forget.