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

27.5 Revelation – Patiently Restored

26.4 Revelation – Permeated with sin but Present in Peace

In Genesis 1, again and again we read that God’s creation was good.  But, then sin entered and, like a virus, it spread into every part of creation.  Every part of creation.  It spread into man’s DNA, our very existence, our nature.  But it also spread into the soil (blood), into the plants (weeds), into the rocks and streams and waters and air.  It spread into space, into the universe.  It spread into everything animate and inanimate.  It spread into the spiritual realm with the serpent and demons and fallen angels.  It is so invasive and so corrosive that the ultimate proper response is not to control or manage it, but simply to remove it.

In Revelation 21, we read that is what God does.  Every part of creation dies.  The living and the inanimate.  The mortal and the spiritual.  The earth and the cosmos.  All of it simply goes away and exists no more.  And, God starts a-new.

A new heaven and a new earth.  A new existence that in which God is fully present, where there is no more hurt or pain or sadness or separation.

We get fleeting glimpses of this in our present day.  The joy and innocence in a child’s eyes.  The shiver of the spirit when we feel God move in our life.  The peace that comes in the midst of prayer in a dire situation.  While we long for these flickers to light into raging fires, they are too quickly gone, smothered in the sin of the world.

But these glimpses are not mirages, they are real.  They are embers of the fire that burns in our God’s heart that He wants to place in ours for eternity.  It is the warmth and peace and joy that surpasses all understanding and keeps our hearts and minds on the truth, on the Word, on Jesus Christ.

The challenge for us, as believers, is not in finding the words to say to share the good news of Jesus Christ.  It is not in finding the spirit and conviction to talk to others.  It is not in our prayer lives.  The challenge is in our witness for Christ.  All of those others things impact it, but our loudest witness is in living a life noticeably different than the rest of the world.  A life that, despite the trials and tribulations, the pain and persecution, still shines with joy and assurance and peace.  Too often the witness that people see is one of hypocrisy of lip-service and compartmentalization of our faith to an hour on Sunday morning.  We are sinners and do not have the ability to shine this living witness on our own, but through prayer, reading the word and the power of the Holy Spirit, the reflection of God’s holiness can shine through us.

My Answers:

7.
Our current existence – because it has been corrupted by sin –  all of creation, not redeemed directly by the saving power of Jesus Christ, must suffer death and destruction

8.
During the time in the garden God walked and talked with man daily.  In isolated instances after He did the same (Enoch, Moses).  He spoke to and through the prophets.  He revealed himself in visions and direct signs and through angels (Lot, Daniel).  He became man and dwelt among us (Jesus).  He is coming again to reign for 1000 years after which time all creation will be purged and replaced with a new heaven and a new earth and only those who have committed their lives to Him will live for eternity in peace.

9.
a.
God’s answered prayer – Also that God has revealed Himself through circumstances that simply cannot be described in any other way than divine intervention.

b.
Because of the peace of the presence of the Holy Spirit – it is a feeling, but also a comfort and consolation and contentment that can be described in no other way than “from God”

26.4 Revelation – Permeated with sin but Present in Peace

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.

25.3 Revelation – Summary Judgment

24.5 – Scavenging

Our scripture for today gets a little gory, a little gruesome, but in a glorious way.  We are repulsed by the idea of these scavenging birds being filled with the flesh of those fallen soldiers who stood in opposition to Jesus when He returns.

But lets step back and really look at this.  The only thing of value from these individuals is their flesh.  They lived by the flesh.  They cherished flesh and bone over spirit.  They not only denied Jesus Christ but they took up arms against Him.

Who forms an army to fight against the eternal God?  What hope did they have?  Yet, in their delusion, they saw themselves as equals to Christ and His army.

But, as the facts show, they were truly deluded.  It did not take Christ’s army to defeat them.  Everyone fell by the sword of His mouth.

But even out of their hatred, out of their death, God still did not waste.  He prepared the scavenging birds to consume the only valuable part of these men.

The beast and false prophet did not even have this as a redeeming quality.  They were so fully corrupt that nothing was of value even to the scavenging birds.  Instead they were captured and thrown alive into the burning fiery lake of sulfur.

We hear of fire and brimstone warnings.  This is the source.  This is the lake of burning metal and noxious fumes.

The sword cuts and the flame purifies.  But for these standing against the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, there is nothing pure in them.

Do not be deluded by the wicked ways of the world.  Because they are common, because they are acceptable, because the provide worldly riches or fame, because they feel good – Does Not Make Them Right or True.

 

My Answers:

12.
captivity for the beast and false prophet – thrown alive into the burning sulfur of the fiery lake.  Rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse – birds gorged themselves on flesh

13.
Where they put their treasure, where they put their trust, the lack of attention to the things of God, the ridicule of believers, the denigration of God to an “also ran”, the contempt for anything holy

14.
Worship boldly – Do not hide, do not be hindered by wickedness (even that from those within the church), who speak in hurtful ways.

24.5 – Scavenging

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)

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

18.5 Revelation – Call to Action

Call to Action

Faith in Jesus Christ and acceptance of the gift of the Holy Spirit is not a checkbox on our tally card of life.  It is not a “yeah, when I was in middle school I said that prayer so I’m covered.”  Accepting the gift of salvation is both bigger than that and smaller than that at the same time.

It is bigger because, truly accepting the fact that we deserve nothing but eternal death and damnation for our imperfection (sin), but instead Jesus adopted us, while we were sinners, into His family by fully paying the penalty for our sins, is huge.  It screams for a transformed life.  If this is true…  If this is truly the truth… It changes everything.  How can we live the same broken way we used to with this reality?  How can we continue to dive in and wallow in the filth of our prior sinful life?  How can we walk in darkness and hide?  How can we waste the hours, minutes and seconds we are given in this life pursuing things that pass instead of things that last forever?

It is smaller because, in reality, we don’t check off the box on our own anyway.  Faith itself is a gift.  We don’t have the power to raise our hand to accept the gift.  We are blind and deaf to the message of salvation.  We are a grain of sand, dust.  But through the power of the Holy Spirit, God gives us the power to accept Jesus as our Lord.  He breathes spiritual life into us, eternal life, that doesn’t start when we die, that doesn’t start when He returns and we are called out of the grave, but that starts the moment we receive the gift.

Faith is a call to action.  It requires transformation, a transformed heart, a transformed mind, transformed desire.  It is not earned, but it is also not to be ignored or devalued.  What are you being called to do is, in my opion, better worded as who are you being called to become?

My Answers:

10.
Psa: security – the ability to dine in the den of our enemies without fear of evil
Matt: rest – take up yoke and learn for Jesus is gentle and humble in heart and provides rest
1Cor: There are no new temptations – only old tricks – all of which have been defeated before
2Cor: God’s grace is sufficient – we need nothing more, suffering humbles us to His will
Heb: Jesus is the great High Priest, advocating for us, and allowing us to confidently approach God
Rev: Every tear will be wiped away, no more death, crying pain – all the old order will pass away

11.
Love, submit, rejoice, have hope, be strong, live righteously, be in the spirit, pray, turn over our pain and worries, trust, praise God in all things, be comforted, lay down worry and distress to trust in God, be bound in perfect unity with our God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)

18.5 Revelation – Call to Action

17.2 Revelation – But everyone is doing it

But everyone is doing it

How often do we base our decisions and direction on “conventional wisdom”.  We look at trends of what is hot in fashion.  We pay attention to polls for the direction of the populous.  We pay attention to ratings and reviews of what others think about vacation sites, restaurants and shops.  We have never lost the argument we used as kids that everyone else is doing something.  And, we continue to ignore our mom’s argument that if everyone else jumped off a bridge would you do it as well.

The fact is, we live in a fallen, broken, sinful world.  If the majority is doing something, odds are it is wrong or sinful.  As followers of Christ we are promised trials and difficulties, not majorities and power.  If Jesus was hated and unfairly condemned, why should we expect more.

That does not mean we just throw up our hands and say, “oh well.”  It doesn’t mean we give up and go along with what everyone else is doing.  We are foreigners on this earth and our home and kingdom is in another place, in the heavenly realms.

Our direction should come not from what everyone else is doing, but what the bible commands and what Jesus gave.  We follow the spirit of the Holy Ghost, not popular opinion or polls.  We take definitions of truth from what God commands in His Holy Word, not by what is trending in popularity.

When the beast emerges from the waters everyone follows him, everyone worships him.  There is a remnant that does not and for 42 months they suffer and endure.  Right is right, now and then, but it is seldom what is popular.

 

My Answers:

3.
a.
10 horns, 7 heads, 10 crown on its horns and on each a blasphemous name.  resembled a leopard but had feet like  of a bear and a mouth like a lion.  one of the heads had a fatal wound had been healed.  dragon gave power, throne, authority, people worshiped

b.
that people were so accepting and worshiped the beast – this is weird and strange.  Why would this be worshiped (right now people reject worship of anything but themselves)

4.
Jesus spoke with authority (Mar 1:27), authority he received from God (authority to forgive sins Luk 5:24, drive out demons cure disease Luk 9:1, The Father living in me who is doing his work Jhn 14:10).  But Jesus used his authority to teach and help and cure and support, not as a means of power or control over people.  He was worthy of worship, but chose to submit to persecution

5.
a.
By testing it against scripture, by counsel with other believers, through prayer

b.
I have gotten myself back on track of being detoured by sinful thinking and enticed by things such as greed or self-worth by being confronted by the truth of the scriptures and the words of Godly people.

17.2 Revelation – But everyone is doing it