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.

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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

09.2 Revelation – A Great Gift

A Great Gift

Do you remember a time of giving someone a really great gift?  Maybe it was when you were younger and giving a gift to your mom or dad.  Maybe it was a special birthday present for a friend or loved one.

For me, the thought goes back to May Day flowers for my mom.  I would have been about 6 or 7 years old and we made flowers in school for our moms.  They were simple pieces of paper, cut and curled and colored in a simple construction paper cone with a construction paper handle stapled on the top.

I remember the care in making them and getting them home in my backpack.  I remember that year the 1st of May was on a Saturday, so I kept them hid and stayed quiet about them.  I remember the anticipation and giggling as I sneaked out the back door and around to the front of the house, carefully hanging the “bouquet of flowers” from the doorknob.  The moment I rang the bell and then raced back around the house, flying back in, closing the door and diving on to the couch, to nonchalantly yell out, “Mom, there is a delivery at the door.”  I remember the way my mom went to the door and the joy I felt when her faced lit up at the gift.  The way she displayed them throughout the day.

I also remember years later seeing them in a storage box, where she had held on to the memory of that day.

I did not have the money or means to get a fancy gift.  I could only craft something out of materials that were given to me.  But the joy we both shared in the giving was the the true gift.

This is, to me, the meaning behind the robes and crowns of the elders.  They are/were human beings who lived a life of faith to God.  They had no ability to earn a white robe or a crown.  These were materials given to them.  But throughout their life they crafted them into something of joy.  The joy is not in the pride.  The joy is not in the possession.  The joy is in the giving of the gift itself.

We have nothing God lacks.  We have nothing God needs.  But God has given us materials: bodies, time, talents, materials, a voice, a mind, a heart and soul, relationships, eyes to see, His holy word, a Spirit alive within us.  Like a great parent, He loves the moment of seeing our gift of what we craft out of those materials and sharing in that joy with us, not once, but over and over and over again throughout eternity.

My Answers:

3.
God, the appearance of jasper and ruby, a rainbow shone like an emerald encircled the throne, from the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder, sitting behind a sea of glass, clear as crystal.  Demonstrates God’s majesty

4.
a.
24 elders, the saints who had died for faith in God

b.
A crown that will last forever, a crown of righteousness awarded by the Lord the righteous judge, a crown of glory that will never fade away from the Chief Shepherd, the crown of life that the Lord has promised to the blessed one who perseveres under trial and stands the test

02.4 Revelation – God is die skepper

God is die skepper

I was preparing for the school lesson this week and one of the items is the basic truth about the question: Who is God?  Part of the answer was that God is the creator, and I was looking for an interesting way to help the kids learn and understand this.  In the process, I was using Google translate to see how it translates into other languages, when I ran across the translation from English to Afrikaans.

According to Google Translate, “God is the Creator” translates into “God is die skepper.”

I loved this image.  We can sometimes get into incorrect thinking, called deism, that God was very active in the creation and then stepped back and let things be.  That God is distant and not involved in day-to-day, moment-to-moment life on the Earth or the Universe.  He just set things in motion and lets the laws of physics, chemistry and biology take over from there.  But being the Creator is not a “one and done” thing, it is ongoing.  Using a boat as an analogy, God didn’t just create the boat that is all of creation, He is the skipper of the boat. He is the captain, the admiral, the commander.  His hand is steering it and in charge and control at every moment.  Everyone and everything is under his command and authority.

I think, in the study of Revelation, we will be reminded of just how true this is.  God is die skepper!

My Answers:

6.
If you have ears: listen.  The victorious will be in paradise.  God is holy and almighty,worthy, creator
Jesus (the lamb) is worthy, Angels and heavenly beings profess this in unity in continuum
Only God is to be worshiped, not the angels (they are fellow servants)We are invited to come and drink, free gift of h2o life
7.
a.
All who know Him do it gratefully and continuously.  It is the logical and right thing to do and it brings joy to those who do.  It is the appropriate response to the one true God.

b.
Mercy and grace.  That He is everlasting, all knowing, creator, and yet chose to save His people from the clutches of sin instead of giving us what we rightly deserve

01.5 Revelation – Jesus: Prophet and Fulfiller of Prophecy

Jesus: Prophet and Fulfiller of Prophecy*
*(see bonus video at the end of this post)

God had no issue with pulling out the stops to deliver the prophetic messages he had for His people, especially when those messages were a call to repentance.  He placed prophets in camel hair eating locusts and honey.  He had them walk around naked.  He had them speak an act so boldly in opposition to human authority that they were thrown in with lions or dumped in blazing furnaces.  The message, not the messenger, was the critical thing and these servants did what was required of them by God for the message to be heard (and hopefully heeded).

With the eccentricities of the old testament prophets in mind, it can be tempting to dismiss prophecy as strange, odd, radical and even crazy.  We may be tempted to have these thoughts as we read about multi-headed, multi-horned creatures and flying mutant animals, massive death and destruction and plagues and the dead rising.

However, we need to keep one key fact in mind.  Jesus Christ not only fulfilled prophecy, but He acknowledged Himself as a prophet.  Jesus made no hesitance to explain that He was sent by God to deliver God’s message to His people.  He did this not only through words, but also through His life, death and resurrection.

Think, too, about how strange some of the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled seemed before His coming.  A virgin will be with child?  God with us?  He will lead Israel to greatness and rejected by Israel?  He will be the ultimate conqueror and pierced and killed, despised and rejected?

But, with the word of the bible and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can clearly see how these prophecies were and will be fulfilled.  We can see that the prophecy of God’s plan for salvation through Jesus, first arriving on a colt and then, at His return, arriving on a cloud are not contradictory, but simply point to two different times.  We can also see that all of this is not random, disconnected information, but all prophecy is ultimately about the one key thing that has always been God’s plan for mankind – to be fully reunited with Him in glory for all eternity, free of sin and suffering and death, for His glory as God.

My Answers:

11. Jesus – predicted His coming through prophecy from God

12.
a.
That the plan (the original plan) was for Christ to come, die, rise again, to prepare a place and time and to come again to bring those in His flock home

b.

That it is the climax of the story of God, the conclusion of the redemption but the beginning of the only true “happily ever after.”

Bonus

This video is an interesting presentation showing how Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecy is evidence on which to build faith.

24.5 Moses 24, Day 5

Phinehas: Skewered Sinfulness Stops Fury

Our verses for today start at Number 25:6 but I believe you have to go back and include 25:5 to get the story of Phineas correct.

Moses called together THE JUDGES of Israel.  As you might recall, on the recommendation of his father-in-law, Moses had set up a hierarchy of governing men from the community.  From Exodus 18:21, 22 we learn that Moses was counseled to, “select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times.

These were the people that God, through Moses, commissioned to “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord.”  It was their job and their duty.  In the same way a judge in our courts may be commissioned to deliver a severe sentence to a convicted criminal or a police officer or soldier may be put in a position to use deadly force in the conduct of their duty.

But the judges did not go into this duty with a carefree attitude.  In Numbers 25:6 we read that this whole assembly (not just some of them but all of them) were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting.  They were crying because of the sin, but also because of the seriousness of the burden placed on them by the sin of the people.  They did not want to kill their brothers and cousins, fathers and sons.

When, in the middle of all of this, with 24,000 people dying, with the judges assembled in mourning and repentance, crying tears at the tent of meeting, along boldly strides Zimri with a Midianite women in tow, taking her brazenly into his tent in broad daylight to defile and reject God’s commandments.  Multiple witnesses, verdict delivered.

The fact that all of the judges did not rise up against this man is a testimony of how shocking the immoral act was given the situation.  But zealous Phineas, raised as the grandson of the High Priest and the son of the current High Priest stands up and delivers justice.

With that one bold act, the plague stopped.  It was not the death of Zimri that paid the price.  It was the dedication and conviction of Phinehas that restored God’s faith in His people.

We are not called to be executors of God’s wrath.  Yes, there is grave sin in our time committed by brazenly spiteful and wicked people.  Pick any abomination and there are not only people practicing it, but those who promote it.  But we are not ordained as judges tasked by God will carrying out His sentence on these people.  Phinehas was.  That is the difference.

In Matthew 7, Jesus taught, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

But that does not mean that we are not supposed to demonstrate zeal in the duties that have been commanded of us.  We just have different duties than Phinehas and the judges of Israel had (praise the Lord for that!).  We should be zealous in being holy.  We should be zealous in being nourished by the Word.  We should be zealous in obedience.  We should be zealous in parenting and teaching.  We should be zealous in generosity.  We should be zealous in the chastity and fidelity of our relationships.  We should be zealous in going and making disciples.  We should be zealous in ensuring others will “know we are disciples by our love.” (John 13:35)

We close our lesson with Balaam and the fact that he, a mortal man, was killed by the sword of the Israelites.  But he has a legacy.  His legacy is what not to do.  In every situation he is mentioned it is always a negative.  Despite delivering 7 fold blessings on the Israelites and coming face-to-face with the Angel of the Lord – there is nothing positive in his legacy, just what not to do.  How do you want to be remembered – for being zealous or for being greedy?  For being the one who God finds loyalty and bravery and the justification for ending the plague or as the one who brings on the anger of the Lord and plagues on people?

 

My Answers:

10.
a.
He did it in zealous obedience.  24,000 people were dying from sin and it was Phinehas’ job to follow the verdict given by the Lord.

b.
by staying obedient to Him and His word

11.
a.
taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin

b.
Killed by the sword by Israelites

12.
a.
He does not tolerate sin in His people

b.
To be holy – to not be lured into wickedness and evil.  To avoid temptation

17.5 Moses 17, Day 5

Holy Heart not Holey Heart

God has tremendous blessings in store for all of His children.  Bounties of harvest so great that farmers would need to move the old crops out to make room for the new ones coming in.  They would not need to build larger store houses, because there was so much security in God’s promise they didn’t need to worry about storing up more.  God promised them peace and safety, from war, from wild animals, from enemies.  God promised might and victory.  Unprecedented might and victory, where 5 people could defeat 100.

Even more so God offered to dwell among His people.

But, that isn’t where this chapter starts.  This chapter starts with specific commands.  No idols, no graven images, observe the sabbaths, have reverence for the sanctuary.  How do these things go together?

This isn’t quite equivalent, but try this as an explanation:  You have been invited to the top artisan ice cream shop in the world.  You are given free access to every flavor, every topping ever accompaniment you can imagine.  But it is BYOB – Bring Your Own Bowl.  How would you feel if you showed up and your bowl was dirty, broken, cracked, with holes.

In this case, though, the bowl is your heart.

God wants you to enjoy the bounty He has in mind.  God has carefully prepared for you the things your heart craves.  He really doesn’t want you to show up with a bowl that is broken and full of holes.  If you don’t get the message from the promise of the blessing, then He will provide other forms of discipline.  If the carrot doesn’t work, then maybe the whip will.  God does not want to punish you, no more than a loving parent wants to punish a child, but if that is what it takes to get you to show up with a clean and ready bowl – that is up to you.

Leviticus 26:40-45 confirms this.  Repent.  Get your heart back in line, and God freely hands you the golden ticket to His ice cream shop.

What is the state of your bowl (your heart)?  Have you asked God to “create in me a clean heart”?  Have you asked God to help mend your broken heart?  Have you repented and showed the chips and holes to the one who can fix them. ?  Do you have a Holy Heart, or are you showing up with a Heart full of Holes?

 

My Answers:

10.
a.
1. do not make idols or bow down to carved stone, 2.observe the sabbaths and have reverence for sanctuary

b.
3-5: send rain in its season, ground will yield crops, trees fruit,… you’ll eat all the food you want and live in safety
6-8 peace and safety, remove wild animals, no wars at home, defeat military enemies (5 chase 100) 11-13 God dwell with them, safety and freedom – He would be their king

c.
14-17: Illness, famine and defeat
18-20: Drought and bad harvest
21-22: Multiplied afflictions and destructive wild animals
23-26: Diseases and destruction by enemies

11.
a.
If repent and approach with a humble heart, God will remember His covenant

b.
That the holy of holies is open, Jesus is my high priest and He is redeeming me daily, despite my sin

12.
a.
2. a person (child or otherwise), 9. an animal, 14.a house, 16. family land, 22. purchased land/fields