- Israel Reminded of God's Promise and Coming Text: Isaiah 48: 1-22 & Isaiah 49:1-26
- Judgment Upon Babylon Text: Isaiah 47:1-15
- Proof of God's Sovereignty Text: Isaiah 45 & 46
- Israel to be Redeemed and Restored Text: Isaiah 43 & 44
- Two Helpers for Israel Cyrus and Christ, sent by God Text: Isaiah 41: 1-29 & 42: 1-25
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- BOOK OF ACTS OF THE APOSTLE (45)
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- FOLLOWING GOD'S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE (42)
- HOLY SPIRIT (22)
- IN-DEPTH STUDY OF EPHESIANS (19)
- IN-DEPTH STUDY OF THE BOOK OF GALATIANS (21)
- IN DEPTH STUDY OF THE BOOK OF ROMANS (38)
- PROSPERITY (18)
- PROVERBS CHALLENGE (5)
- STUDY OF ISAIAH (30)
- THE GREAT SHEPHERD (20)
Monday, December 31 2012
In the last study, John walked us down heaven's street and introduced to where we would spend eternity; no greater "incentive" to gear us to live right and be there forever! In this study, John describes the last bit of heaven and brings us to the end of his visions, drawing us back into time and the reality that face us.
"1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
Pure River of water of life echoes the promise of Christ to the woman at the well of John 4. Living water has benefits for those that drink it. They will never thirst again!
(i) Proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb: This water supply is supernaturally supplied, which ensures the eternal or continuing nature of not only the supply of water, but the quality as well.
(ii) And on either side of the river, was there the tree of life: This statement is difficult to comprehend because one tree cannot be on two sides of a river. My opinion is that the tree is in the midst of the river and it extends its branches and leaves to both sides of the river.
(iii) Which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: 12 types of fruit are produced on the tree each and every month
"And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. 5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; . Implies that because the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, there will be no more curse.
(i) And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light:
The Lord God becomes the light of the Holy City
"And he said unto me, these sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book."
Behold, I come quickly: Jesus says He comes quickly and some have misunderstood this to mean that He will come back in the generation it was spoken. The word in Greek actually means that He is coming suddenly. The angel was sent to show His servants (the Church) the things that must shortly be done. This prophecy actually started with the seven churches of John's time. It continues to be mostly about the Church age on earth until the Church is completed at the marriage in Heaven. Then the focus is in Israel.
"And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. 9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God."
You would think that John would have got the message when the other angel rebuked him for falling to worship him. It should be apparent that angels appear as if they were Gods to men, as does Satan. In any case, it is clear that angels are not to be worshiped and righteous ones do not even want to be worshiped.
"And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand."
Again, we are told this book is a prophecy. John is told not to seal it because the future things written in it started with the letters to the seven churches in Asia. Some of these things written to the seven churches actually did begin in John's lifetime. The book of Revelation is written to those who are in spiritual light. The passages for those in the light cannot be sealed. The book is only sealed to those who live in spiritual darkness.
"He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be."
This verse literarily brings the revelation to an end and returns us back to the now. It indicates that the giving of this prophecy will not change the hearts of all the people.
"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city"
When Jesus comes suddenly all the judgments and rewards written in this book will take place because He is Almighty God the Creator of all things. He is the beginner and finisher of all things. The eternal commandments are fulfilled in loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Keeping these two commandments fulfill all the other commandments of God. Those who do so will be allowed access to the tree of life in the Holy City so they can eat of it and have spiritual life forever. The truth of the matter is - you cannot love God if you reject His Son and you cannot in truth love your neighbor without the Spirit that is given by the Son. Therefore, keeping the commandments can only be fulfilled by the Spirit of Jesus Christ in you.
"For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. 16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
These are left out of the Holy City; they will not have access to the tree of life. They will be in an eternal state of death (separation from God).
Jesus is the one who sent the angel to John to tell the Church about these things. He says he came from the lineage of David and that He is the bright and morning star (the light of the world the first light to shine that indicates that the night is over). The verse is directed at those that are thirsty. We are told the water of life is given freely to all that are thirsty for Him (Jesus). The words and whosoever will seems to indicate that mankind has free will of choice to come to Jesus to be saved or not.
"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
God takes the prophetic message He gave to John seriously. Any who add to the words of this prophecy will receive the plagues written in this book and those that take away the words of this prophecy will be cast into the Lake of Fire.
"He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."
The final words of the book tell us that Jesus will come suddenly. We should all be watching and waiting for His return. The time set by the Father for the bride to be completed is getting very short. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Friday, December 28 2012
The study of Rev. 20:1-3 last week put a seal to the fact that the devil is way below the status of the Almighty God. Just one Angel was able to bind and cast him into the bottomless pit for 1000 years. Satan is not and will never be God's rival. We studied the millennial reign of Christ and His saints and the white throne judgement. We concluded with the warning that our works will be tested and eternal damnation awaits those who will not receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour. We are to be out there prayerfully reconciling the world back to God.
This week, as we study chapter 21 of the book of Revelation, let us take note of the phrase "and I saw". This book is a documentation of visions that were given to John and we can also have access to God's visions for our days. More importantly, we are introduced to where we would spend eternity; there is no greater "incentive" to gear us to live right and be there forever!
Verses 1-5 "All Things Made New"
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful."
A new heaven and a new earth: The new heaven and earth is not simply the old renovated but an act of new creation. It was mentioned in Isa.65:17; 66:22-24. Peter, in 2 Pet.3:10-13, also described the dissolving of the old heaven and earth. Paul also made mention of the heavenly Jerusalem in Gal.4:22-26 and Heb.12:22-24.
The New Jerusalem: (Also see Rev.3:12) was described as the Holy City prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men: Despite the self existing ability of God, He, in His love, longs to dwell among us in order to have fellowship with us and to bless us with His personal care. This ought to touch our hearts and cause us to draw near to Him.
Verse 6 "It is Done!"
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
The Lord was the Alpha in creating a perfect world. Here He has fulfilled His work as the Omega bringing an end to sin and evil.
Verse 7-8 "Rewards for good and evil"
7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; The Greek indicates habitual or continual victory over sin. If this is a problem for us, we may ask for strength and put it to work in our lives (2Cor.12:9)
He shall be my son: We may now be children of God but then, in a special way will we be His sons and daughters! With the curse of evil gone we will be able to see Him face to face!
But the fearful: Fearful or "cowards" - Those who fear the temporary consequences of following Christ, telling the truth.
Verse 9-21 "The Great City Described"
9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
Having the glory of God
The great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God also had the glory of God.
John had an idea of some of the names of the precious stones used to construct the foundations of the city. Sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprasus, jacinth, amethyst. But for the others, he must have used the best words he knew to describe the glory of the place. "Unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; Pure gold, transparent glass!"
The twelve gates
"And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several [individual] gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass." (Verse 21). Today large perfect pearls are highly prized. In our verse each gate is an individual pearl. Amazing!
The Golden Street
We often hear of heaven as having golden streets, but the text says "street," singular. We will see the street of heaven again in Chapter 22. "And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it [the city], and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life"
Verse 22-27 "A Perfect Place"
22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.27 And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
No temple therein: No sin, no need for a temple; why? Because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. At this point it is clear that no more sinners will ever claim restoration through the blood of the sacrificed Lamb, that phase of the temple services will end. Will we still need our Lord? Absolutely. In Him we will still live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). He and the Father will ever be our joy.
Interestingly, there were twelve gates of the celestial City (Verse12); the twelve kinds of precious stone of the celestial City (Verses 19-20), twelve foundations, the twelve names of the apostles.
The Symbolism of 12 in the Bible;
Twelve is the number of what is completed, which forms a whole, a perfect and harmonious unit. In the ancient civilizations, like Oriental and Judaic, it corresponds to the plenitude (the quality or state of being full), the completion and the integrality of a thing, The number "12" represents: "The Government of God being established." it is also a number attributed to the government of the world. It represents the months per year, tribes of Israel, and the twelve apostles of the Jesus Christ. Also, there were 12 fruits in the tree of life that we shall all eat! Rev 22:2
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Thursday, November 22 2012
After the fall of Babylon, we looked at how John heard what was like a roar of many peole praising God in an apparent response to the judgement of Babylon. Then, there was the praise anticipating the second coming of Christ (Rev. 19:6-8). We learnt that our worship is only meant to be directed to God and not to angels. It is also instructive to pay attention to the way Christ was decribed: Faithful and True - As believers, we must not live below such standard. Finally, we saw the destruction of the wicked, where the armies of the earth are no match with the armies from heaven. The judgement of God on the wicked is as certain as His grace which is available to save all who believe. Today, we will look at the Millennial reign of Christ and the judgement of the great white throne.
Satan Bound (vs 1-3)
1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
First it is very interesting to see that Satan is not God's peer or equivalent as he would always have people to believe. As we have consistently seen in this book of revelation that it is an angel of God who handles the devil (Satan) all the times. Satan is not God's rival!
The Millennial Reign of Christ (vs 4-6)
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Vs 4 talks about a particular set of martyred dead and John's description shows that they are given resurrected bodies since he could see them. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Lesson for us: Whatever a man does for the Lord, there is always a ?payday' (reward). I Cor 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Vs 5 informs us that the rest of the dead did not come to life until after a thousand years, implying the resurrection of the wicked dead as we will see in vs 11-15.
First resurrection: I will align with the description of the Bible Knowledge commentary with describes it as follows: It should be obvious, however, that in no sense could this be the number- one resurrection chronologically because historically Christ was the first to rise from the dead with a transformed, resurrected body. There was also the resurrection "of many" (Matt. 27: 52- 53) which took place when Christ resurrected. In what sense then can this resurrection in Revelation 20: 5 be "first"? As the context which follows indicates, "the first resurrection" (vv. 5- 6) contrasts with the last resurrection (vv. 12- 13), which is followed by "the second death" (vv. 6, 14). It is first in the sense of before. All the righteous, regardless of when they are raised, take part in the resurrection which is first or before the final resurrection (of the wicked dead) at the end of the Millennium. This supports the conclusion that the resurrection of the righteous is by stages. Christ was "the Firstfruits" (1 Cor. 15: 23), which was preceded by the token resurrection of a number of saints (Matt. 27: 52- 53). Then will occur the Rapture of the church, which will include the resurrection of dead church saints and the translation of living church saints (1 Thes. 4: 13- 18). The resurrection of the two witnesses will occur in the Great Tribulation (Rev. 11: 3, 11). Then the resurrection of the martyred dead of the Great Tribulation will occur soon after Christ returns to earth (20: 4- 5). To these may be added the resurrection of Old Testament saints which apparently will also occur at this time, though it is not mentioned in this text (cf. Isa. 26: 19- 21; Ezek. 37: 12- 14; Dan. 12: 2- 3).
Vs 6: There is not much detail of what will happen during this millennial reign of Christ but indeed it will be a time of great blessing
Satan's final ruin (Vs 7-10)
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Satan was released from the prison but being Satan he unrepentantly went and deceived nations to gather them for battle again. Isn't that funny given all the battle he had lost since the beginning of the book of revelation? Why is the term Gog and Magog used? It is not explained by John but in Ezekiel 38 Gog was described as the ruler and Magog was the people, and both were in rebellion against God and were enemies of Israel. The result of such battle can be predicted apriori as we have seen in many preceding incidences: Fire came down from heaven and devoured Satan's followers while he was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur.
The Great White throne Judgment
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
The One who sat on the great white throne caused the earth and heaven to flee from His presence but they found no place to hide. He'd come to judge the dead (both the small and the great). Many bible scholars believe that this judgment will be for the wicked dead since all the righteous dead have been raised including Old Testament saints, the dead of the Great Tribulation, and the church saints, the body of Christ. Indeed since these dead have not been raised is an indication that they do not have eternal life so their judgment is the judgment of works.
Whether Christians or non-Christians, our works will be tested: 1 Cor. 3:13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. So we must pay attention to what we do!!!
I will conclude with these words from BK Commentary: Though many have attempted to find some scriptural way to avoid the doctrine of eternal punishment, as far as biblical revelation is concerned there are only two destinies for human souls; one is to be with the Lord and the other is to be forever separated from God in the lake of fire. This solemn fact is motivation for carrying the gospel to the ends of the earth whatever the cost, and doing everything possible to inform and challenge people to receive Christ before it is too late.
Contributor: Akin Akande
Thursday, November 22 2012
In the last study, John was shown an expanded explanation of the judgment of Babylon he is now about to see the coronation and marriage of the Lamb of God in heaven as well as the beginning of the end. In this study, we will experience the joy and jubilation and praise of God by the saints over the judgment of Babylon as well as at the celebration wedding and the feast that occurs afterwards. And then step straight out of the merriment into the final battle!
" 1 And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: 2 For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.3 And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up forever and ever."
A Great Voice of much people in heaven . . . true and righteous are His judgments: The outburst of praise (from verse 1) rests upon the fact that the judgments of God - specifically, his judgment of the great harlot - are true and righteous (from verse 2) Also pay attention to the contents of the call to praise the Lord: Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; ascribing to God attributes, which He alone has.
We know of coal mines that continue to burn underground for scores of years so this is not out the realm of natural possibilities. The smoke of the great whore continues to rise eternally even after the thousand years, when all that are identified with her are judged at the great white throne judgment and cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:11 - Rev 20:15).
"4 And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. 5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
Once again, we see the twenty-four elders and the four beasts that surround the throne of God worshipping Him, saying "Amen; Alleluia". (If the word amen is used prior to any discourse - in this case the word alleluia - the word amen means "truly" or "surely". If the word were used after any discourse, the word amen would mean "so be it" or "even so". The word alleluia means "praise the Lord". Therefore, the words "Amen; Alleluia" in the context of verse 4 indicate that the twenty-four elders say, "truly, we praise you Lord".)
"7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."
These spells out the purpose of God's eternal plan - the marriage of the Lamb purposed from the foundation of the world. The bride of Christ is now a wife and she is ready to be joined with Jesus and be one forever. The wife is ready because she was adorned with gifts at the judgment.
The Linen could be referred to both the "righteousness of the saints" (that comes through the blood of Jesus) and the "righteous acts of the saints" (that comes through the Holy Spirit working in believers). It is important that we realize that both are essential. Our righteous acts mean nothing without the righteousness given by Christ. So we should do away with the erroneous belief that once this righteousness is given to us we don't have to live a righteous life anymore. Both are very important in our walk with God
"9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
John was so awed by the angel that showed him these things that he fell down to worship him. In contrast to Satan who demands worship, the angels of God will not allow anyone to worship them. All worship is to be directed to God. The angel told John that Jesus is the fulfillment of all God given prophecy; worship Him alone. The angel links himself with John by calling himself a fellow servant with you. There are important differences between angels and men, but the really significant thing is that they are both ?servants' of their common Lord. This Angel clearly tells us that Angels are not to be worshipped.
John saw the second coming of Jesus and what will happen to the armies that gather against the Lord at Megiddo. Chapter 16 told us all the armies of the world will be assembled at Megiddo against the Lord. Then chapter 17 gave us the mystery of the woman that rides the Beast and her destruction by the Beast. After that chapter 18 gave us the details about the destruction of the Beast kingdom called "Babylon the Great". Now we pick up again where chapter 16 left off.
The seventh vial was already poured out and destruction came on all cities of the world and Babylon was completely destroyed. However, the Beast and False Prophet were not in Babylon when it was destroyed. They probably got out of town in the plague of darkness at the fifth vial. The armies of the world that destroyed Babylon are deceived by the unclean spirits (demons) that come out of the mouth of the Dragon, the Beast and the False Prophet (Rev 16:13). The armies from the north and the east move to Megiddo in northern Israel where the Beast and False Prophet have relocated. These unclean satanic spirits convince the kings of all the nations and armies of the world to oppose Jesus when He comes.
"11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. "14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."
There is no doubt about the identity of the Person on this white horse. There had been another rider of a white horse (as we see in chapter six) but he only wears a single conquerors reef called in the Greek "stephanos", Jesus comes wearing "many" golden crowns of royalty. The Greek word for crowns used here is "diadems". The Son of God is known by many names in the scriptures but the name the Word of God (1st John 2:14 and in John 1:1) precedes verse 15 "And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword". The Word of God is two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12)
These armies (plural) in verse 14 include all the hosts of heaven, the angels and all who make up the body of Christ. They all come wearing fine linen, white and clean. This indicates that all of their sins have been removed and they have on the righteousness of Christ.
"17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
The so called battle of Armageddon really is not a battle at all. It is a slaughter of all of the enemies of God on earth. All the armies of the world are gathered against Jesus and His saints by Satan and by his lying spirits. The armies gathered by Satan will all end up being food for the vultures. Lying spirits come out of the mouths of the Dragon, the Beast and the False Prophet to deceive the whole world and the armies that destroy Babylon. These lying spirits somehow convince the kings of the earth to move all their armies against Jerusalem. The real question is why would the world dare to fight against the God of heaven? The answer might be that the lying spirits somehow manage to convince the kings of the earth that the God of Heaven is not almighty and can also be stopped from setting up His kingdom on earth by enough military force (like the counterfeit kingdom of god at Babylon was at least partly overthrown by worldly military force). When these armies fight against the Kingdom of the real God of creation they will all come to their destruction.
"20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh."
The Antichrist Beast and his False Prophet, who worked miracles by the power of Satan and deceived all who took the mark of the Beast and those that worshipped his image, are taken captive. Just as Satan deceived and took a third of the angels in his rebellion against God, Satan in the Beast and False Prophet will deceive and take a large number of humans in this rebellion against God. Those that follow him do not want the Son of God to rule over them. Notice, there is no real resistance against the real God of creation. The armies are gathered for slaughter because all the forces of Satan and man are no match against the God of creation. I am sure Satan knows this but he hates humanity and God so much that he intends to bring humanity to total destruction. The Beast and False Prophet are judged by Jesus and they are cast alive into the Lake of Fire.
At this point, one will think that we have finally come to the end of all the wars and battles and killings. In the next chapter Satan himself will be bound for a thousand years. But the suspense is not entirely over; watch out for yet another twist in the tale!
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Friday, October 19 2012
Introduction: Last week, we considered the two faces of Babylon; the Religious Babylon (Rev.17); guilty of religious abominations and Commercial Babylon (Rev.18), guilty of pride, greed and self-indulgence and the judgment that befell her. We concluded by saying that it was very easy, these last days to be lured into the entrapment of the system that rules the world we live in so we have to be careful to steer clear of "self" - a destroyer and a waster. Today, we will consider the aftermath of the judgment of Babylon and learn a few valuable lessons
1. Verses 9-10: The kings of the Earth Lament
"The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, ?Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.'"
When you read this verse of scripture two things can be suggested about the kings of the earth standing at a distance
· The heat and smoke of her burning must be very intense that they had to stand at a distance.
· When God's judgment comes, no one can contend it. The best they can offer will be idle lamentations "Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! "
2. Verses 11-17a The Merchants reveal their greed and selfishness as they lament.
"And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more"
They were not concerned about the fact that Babylon was burning
It is plain that the mourning was rooted in self-interest: for no one buys their merchandise anymore
The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
They reveal their materialism and rebellion. Note the last bit of verse 13: "And slaves and souls of men" Their dealings were not only exploiting people and the city but they traded the souls of men; cruelly using others. They sold the bodies and souls of men, occultism, prostitution and pornography were the order of the day. We are already seeing these.
And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
The things craved for (the worldly pleasures) will bear up wings and fly away. These are same things that chased away the things that are dainty and goodly
Verses 15- 17a
The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, And saying, Alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought.
Notice as well that the merchants kept their distance and once again their emphasis on materialism. "For in one hour so great riches is come to nought."
3. Verses 17b - 19 The Sea-Captains lament.
"And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! For in one hour is she made desolate."
We see another group of fake lamenters; their source of business was gone. That was their concern "Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth"
4. Verse 20: Call to the heavens and the people of God: rejoice!
"Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!"
Should God's people rejoice when judgment comes? Yes, but we don't rejoice in the destruction in judgment. Rather, we rejoice in the righteous resolution God's judgment brings.
5. Verse 21: An angel graphically shows Babylon's fall.
"And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all"
Jeremiah 51:61-64: "He said to Seraiah, "When you get to Babylon, see that you read all these words aloud. Then say, ?Lord, you have said you will destroy this place, so that neither people nor animals will live in it; it will be desolate forever.' When you finish reading this scroll, tie a stone to it and throw it into the Euphrates. Then say, ?So will Babylon sink to rise no more because of the disaster I will bring on her. And her people will fall.'".
Matthew 18:6: "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
This applies to Babylon in Revelation 18, because she led others into sin. It is a terrible thing to sin; it is even more terrible to lead others into sin.
6. Verses 22-23a Babylon is left desolate and powerless.
"And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth;
Shall be heard no more at all in thee . . . shall be found any more in thee . . . shall be heard no more at all in thee. . . shall shine no more at all in thee: In graphic and poetic language, John describes how Babylon will become at the end. All the clamor and glamour gone; no music, no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, no light (not even that of a candle), no more marrying and giving in marriage - Nothing!
7. Verses 23b - 24: The reasons for the judgment of Babylon
"for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived." And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth."
"For by thy sorceries were all nations deceived": Sorcery is the ancient Greek word pharmakia, which means, "to prepare drugs." The lure of Babylon can be likened to drug addiction, fueled by deceptive advertising deceiving all the nations
The ultimate reason for Babylon's judgment was that she has killed the prophets and saints.
God takes the persecution of His people as a personal offense. Those who attack His people really attack Him.
The people that mostly drive us into participating in evil usually do so for their own benefits and not ours. And when the time for reaping the consequences of our actions come, the best they can offer will be half-hearted lament and it will not be because they are sorry for us but that they are concerned only for themselves.
Chasing after worldly pleasure will eventually chase away the things that are graceful and goodly and leave us empty, bare and at risk of eternal judgment.
Babylon, in judgment crashed and burned! We don't have to!
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Friday, October 19 2012
The fall of Babylon was first mentioned in Chapter 14:8 but there were no details about its fall. And then again in Chapter 17 where Babylon was revealed and its alliances; there are many interpretations of what Babylon represents today; physically, spiritually, etc. Verses 4-5 of Chapter 17 describe Babylon as the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth and chapter 17:18 says "And this woman you saw in your vision represents the great city that rules over the kings of the world." [NLT]
The combination of these scriptures (chapter 17 and our text for today) has led to the analogy that Babylon manifests in two faces:
Religious Babylon (Rev.17); guilty of religious abominations and Commercial Babylon (Rev.18); guilty of pride, greed and self-indulgence
"After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury."
So after the happenings in Chapter 17, John saw another angel shinning with the "carryover" from the presence of God; he was literarily glowing to the extent that he lit up the earth! No wonder the Bible says that in heaven we will not need the Sun because God Himself will be our light!
Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!
The Angel was prophesying the fall of Babylon as though it had already happened. God had revealed to him the future of Babylon.
The Future of Babylon
The city has become a dwelling place of demons: This is a prophetic picture of absolute desolation where the proud achievements of man become the demonic haunts of unclean and horrible creatures.
For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication: Babylon's sin is not only idolatry (referred to with the term fornication), but also becoming rich by devious means "and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury"
"And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities."
Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins: Amazing! At this stage in the events of time, Jesus still calls out to His own "Come out of her, my people," It is inconceivable that a child of God could be a part of the fornication with Babylon but because of the commercial angle of Babylon, it is very likely that some may have been lured in as we are being lured in today. This materialistic lure is a constant threat to be guarded against.
Lest you receive of her plagues: Recall the story of Lot while he living in Sodom in Genesis 19. God sent his angels to warn him of the impending disaster. This is a similar warning especially for those who would have been lured in the name of business located at the wrong place at the wrong time. Similar warning in (Isaiah 52:11, Jeremiah 50:8, Jeremiah 51:45, 2 Corinthians 6:14, Ephesians 5:11)
d. Their sins have reached to heaven and God has remembered her iniquities: There is always a day of reckoning. No matter how long it takes, it will surely come. Just as God remembered Amalek (1 Sam.15:2-3) and sent King Saul to annihilate them.
"Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her. In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ?I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.' Therefore her plagues will come in one day; death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her."
Render to her just as she rendered to you: The ancient Greek word for render (apodidomi) means literally "to pay a debt" or "to give back that which is due." God will give to Babylon exactly what she deserves. He is a just God.
Repay her double according to her works . . . mix for her double: Double restitution was required in the Old Testament in cases of theft (Exodus 22:4-9). This perhaps is a commentary on how Babylon has made her wealth - through dishonest dealings.
Her Works (sin):
Self-glorification (she glorified herself),
Self-indulgence (lived luxuriously),
Self-idolization (for she says in her heart, ?I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow)
Therefore her plagues will come in one day: The destruction of Babylon will come suddenly, and with completeness (utterly burned with fire).
God's judgment on Babylon was sudden and could not be averted because as in verse 8d says: "for strong is the Lord God who judges her." It is very easy these last days to be lured into the entrapment of the system that rules the world so we have to be careful to steer clear of "self" - a destroyer and a waster. Remember Lucifer? ""I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred" Isaiah 14:13[NIV]
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Tuesday, October 09 2012
Preamble: The revelatory confirmation given to John plays a very pivotal role in our understanding of Daniel's interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream and also magnifies Daniel's direct vision of almost a direct replica of Daniel 7. At the very beginning of the study of the Book of Revelation; certain assertions were made and one of such assertions was the fact that the Book of Revelation is a hodgepodge of past, present and future representation of events. I believe this chapter as well as others clearly shows a build up from past revelatory experiences and not only that but also provides for us an opportunity to appraise past revelatory encounters and contrast them with present reality- thereby creating clear cut authentication of not only past and present prophecies but also the elicitation and veracity of future occurrences.
Revelations. 17: 10-18 put paid to any doubt or uncertainty about the terrestrial world being under the direct subjection of the celestial world. Physical happenings are manifesting only as the spiritual world determines. Ephesians. 6: 11-14, 2 Cor. 10: 3-6; Job. 1: 6-12.
I would like to draw our focus to the colour of the beast, the colour of the woman's dress and the golden cup in her hands. Rev. 17: 3. These are powerful symbolisms of Satan's deception they are his instruments of attraction to undiscerning travellers who are only after the dainties of the world without understanding that whatever the devil gives it is to lure men to their doom. Prov. 7: 15-20, Luke. 4: 5-8
Verse 10: unfolds a deep mystery Satan orchestrates control over the nations using the woman as an instrument of domination. It is amazing how the woman is used as a portrayal of God's instrument of victory in Revelation. 12: 15-17. Here also we see Satan using the woman as an agent of destruction upon the nations; that's not surprising Satan has no capacity for creativity but deception and lies. The highest of Satan's efforts are always entrenched in counterfeits.
Many scholars have varying interpretations of the 8 kings. some believe the kings represent the Caesars and emperors of Rome. Others posit that the kings are representations of kingdoms and empires that had ruled and were particularly hostile to Israel and those kingdoms are. Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the Roman Empire existing at the time of John's revelation. And then the seventh, the revived Rome which has not yet come, then the eighth and final will be the Antichrist. I would be more inclined to go with the latter argument because it has correlation with Daniel. as we earlier read. No matter what side of the divide one belongs the most important thing is the realisation of a spiritual determinism on physical reality. Kingdoms and dominions exhibit whatever spiritual machinations operating within their territory. Zech. 1: 21
The perversion of nations and the display of madness are as a result of spiritual harlotry being orchestrated by Satan in collusion with leaders that have drunken at the hand of the strange woman. Prayer. Lord deliver this nation from spiritual harlotry and help the leadership of our nations to escape from the grip of this Babylonian blasphemer.1 Tim. 2: 1-5.
Verse 11: we have seen five kings whose era had gone and as at the time of John's revelation the sixth king was already on the throne with two more kings yet to ascend the throne. The reign of the seventh king will be brief so as to make room for the scarlet coloured beast coming in the form of a king. This eighth king had ruled before but would come back again perhaps to finish what it started. 2 Thessalonians. 2: 3-12. This is the man of perdition, the man of sin waiting to be revealed before the final stage which perhaps would herald the coming of the Lord. Prayer. Lord keep us in the knowledge of the truth; that we be not taken by the deceit of Satan and the strong delusional spirit that shall come upon the earth.
Verse 12 and 13: (Daniel. 7: 7, 24-25). Some scholars believe that a time will come when leaders of nations will come together to form a coalition by joining forces together and appointing one to be their leader and there have been certain assertions that the EU might be the fulfilment of these revelation. Some bible scholars believe Rome will emerge once more as a powerful empire that would lead these other nations until the glorious appearing of the Great God. In reality we need not look far to understand the manifestation of these things. Look at the different philosophies, religions, movements, etc. springing up everywhere; "The truth is that the West has chosen to be secular, and secularity has taken the form of a religion; not necessarily like Atheism, Agnosticism, Hedonism etc, but as a force to pull down spirituality, and preach a new message, which elevates science to the pedestal of religion. Charles Krauthammer, while writing in TIME magazine of April 3, 2006, averred that the ?European man has convinced himself that in order to be modern and free, he must be radically secular'. Therefore, I dare propose that what is our modern day demon is no more than Radical Secularism" Odogwu, author of The Spiritual Evolution of Mankind. Recently some European countries came together and developed a machine called neutrino the idea behind this invention was to simulate how the world began. They created an atmosphere where particles collided and asserted that that was how the world came into existence.
Verse 14: (Dan. 7: 21-22, 13-14, 27). We are aware that the end game is near and the close of the age will come but it will not be without the battle for supremacy. Satan is poised for war, arming, preparing and equipping his end time army for the final showdown. Dan. 8: 23-25. The battle for the heart and mind of believers is real. We are killed all the daylong that the life of Jesus might be manifest in us. 2 Cor. 4: 10-11. These prophesies are happening right in our presence, we therefore cannot sit idly by and think that these things are for a time to come; unfortunately we are witnesses of these realities and are called to battle everyday as the soldiers of Christ. Rev. 12: 12-13. Zech. 14: 1-4, 9.
Verse 15: (Dan. 7: 2-3), the reality of this should make one shudder and tremble because this woman rules over multitudes of people. She sits upon the heads of destinies. Many lives are at her whims and caprices. Do we still wonder why the world is the way it is. Why we see the things we see in this generation and the barrage at which they come at us. Many people are remote controlled by a force stronger and more powerful than them. Many lives not under the Lordship of Jesus are susceptible to this worker of iniquity.
We are experiencing unprecedented scale of immorality and blasphemies like never before. Many lives are in jeopardy, tormented by a vicious fiend determined to enslave them forever. Christians are the only ones equipped to liberate lives from this hideous and atrocious beast; now is evangelism needed than in any other generation. Many lives are under the manipulation of a higher spiritual force. Luke. 18: 8, Matt. 24: 12. Prayer. the Lord should deliver us from the power of the stranger that manipulates destinies to self destruct.
Verse 16: Satan gives only to take back; once he is through with his victims he discards them without a second thought. Judas, the Pharisees and Sadducees were used by Satan to crucify the Lord and once Satan was through with them he threw them away. John. 8: 44. Whatever the devil gives he gets back. The devil uses and dumps. John. 10: 10. Demons connive to destroy others and then they help to destroy themselves. All those who do Satan's biddings are themselves lined up for slaughter.
Verse 17: God unfolds His greatness and majesty. We see God using all of creation to fulfil His purpose. Col. 1: 16-18. All of creation exists to bring God's will to pass. Every single thing under heaven functions to the commandment of God. God puts His will in the heart of these terrible creatures so that His purpose might be established. God can use anyone and anything to being your miracle to life.
God allows these kings to cede their kingdoms to the beast. These nations or kings are willingly giving up their kingdoms to the worship of devils. Politicians making laws that advance the cause of the devil; Policies promoting abortion, gay rights, worshipping of devils, Raelian Movement, (UFO religion), etc. 1 Tim. 4: 1-3, 2 Tim. 3: 1-3. Isaiah. 14: 26-27. This reality should give us hope that all things work together for good. God is still in charge and determining every move no matter how miniscule it may seem. Romans. 11: 33-35. Isaiah. 40: 21-22, 28. All things must work in tandem with His will and to His word. Psalm. 119: 89, Luke. 16: 17.
Verse 18: this I believe unfolds the nation whose culture, language, way of life and might controls the rest of the world. Many nations today talks about the greatness of America and how through her greatness and might controls the rest of the world. We see the extent at which other nations and leaders would go to cripple America. We see the passion and hatred with which Americanism is being lauded and at the same being derided. Citizens of different nations look to America for fashion, freedom, culture and might. This text is quite inductive in the sense that we can take a country as explained above and then use it as a model for whatever nation this might end up being.
Nations around the world are emerging with great powers and determination, not only to be acknowledged and recognised but to have the world at its feet. Nations like China, Russia and even Iran are not only demanding recognition but also challenging the status-quo. Two verses back talks about the connivance of other nations to bring this nation to her knees and make her of no relevance. God is strategising- to the end that His purpose only will stand. 2 Chronicles. 20: 22-23.
Our generation I believe is witnessing the fulfilment of prophesy in greater dimension than any other generation. Events of end time proportions are unfolding before us with amazing speed but that also leaves us with very grave responsibilities that require our total and unreserved commitment to be active participants in bringing to bear the kingdom of God on the earth. In no other generation is Matt. 28: 19-20 more relevant than in ours. We have seen the helplessness of humanity under the tyrannical rule of a monster bent on decimating humanity at will. We have also seen his tools of operation that they are clandestine and deceptive; we can therefore like Apostle Paul say we are not ignorant of the devices of Satan.
God beckons on us as His battle axes and weapons of war to sharpen our vigilance and commitment in rescuing humanity from the onslaught of a maniac, that old serpent called the devil. We must as a matter of urgency first work out our own salvation with fear and trembling before we step out as crusaders. May we not be found wanting. Shalom.
Contributor: Paul Thomas
Tuesday, September 25 2012
Introduction: We were carefully and extensively taken through the Last Two Bowls judgement last week. Amongst other things, we were reminded that even the Devil is a pawn in the hand of our God. The teaching ended in the unfolding of Great Babylon which was brought into remembrance before God. This week, we will be looking at the Judgement of Babylon The Great (The Great Harlot) and the lessons that can be learnt.
Spiritual Prostitution and Fornication: (Rev. 17:1-2 NKJV)
"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication."
· Great Harlot: This is over people, multitudes, nations. The worldly philosophy or system that teaches rebellion against God and encourages the pursuit of sin in every ramification. The world system is satan's tool of manipulation in the world. Satan hates the truth and all who rejects the truth (Jesus) are slaves to him. "Great" refers to the harlot (worldly) system that will reach its zenith after the removal of the true church (genuine believers) by means of rapture.
· Sits on Many Waters: refers to world-wide unification and control. "Sits on" suggests the concept of control and unification (Psalm 110:1, Hebrews 8:1). "Waters" refers to the nations and many people of those nations.
From the above therefore, the first verse can be rephrased as;
"Come, I will show you the judgement of the worldly philosophy that is in control of the nations and all the people of the nations"
· With whom the kings of the earth committed fornication: This indicates alliance/ agreement which those in authorities have with the worldly system. Put another way, an unfaithful, unholy alliance between the church and state which should by design remain separate. By Separate, we are not talking about the separation of church and state that is being promoted today where prayer and dependence on God has been removed from the classroom while godless ideologies are being promoted. Both the state and church were established by God (1 Timothy 2:1-3) but must remain separate if they are to carry out their purpose howbeit that they must support one another without compromising their responsibility before God.
· Inhabitants........made drunk with the wine of fornication: The unholy alliance with the worldly system and philosophy have gone unchecked for a long time, spreading like a plague and the nations and people of the nations have become entrapped in the fangs and chains of satan.
Babylon The Great: (Rev. 17: 3-9 NKJV) :
3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. 5 And on her forehead a name was written:
MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,
6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.
7 But the angel said to me, "Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. 8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
9 "Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.
......into the Wilderness - This obviously refers to a desolate, desert-kind of place, because it will be full of cities and peoples who are spiritually dead - a spiritual desert, which the woman and beast will rule. A church could be full of attendees who are spiritually dead. There will be no true spiritual food or water from this empty religious system. The world will be starving and dying - this is what religion does for a man, it leaves him empty, in the desert! This is not God's desire
"And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding".[Jeremiah 3:15]
It is our responsibility as pastors, workers and members in the local church to be an oasis holding forth the word of life and if we remain faithful to this, individually and corporately, the Lord will give us an open door to those who are thirsty. He will lead us to the hungry and them to us.
Scarlet Beast - As we will see later in verse 8, The Beast on which the Harlot is seated is the Antichrist. He is scarlet because he is blood-thirsty and will at the right time kill the woman (a symbol of religous system). He is a counterfeit of our Lord in that he "was" and "is not". These phrase also referred back to Rev. 13:3, 12, and 14 where the beast is resurrected. We know that the ultimate fate of this beast will be destruction just as the end of evil will be. The reason why we must desist from evil at all cost.
"The highway of the upright is to depart from evil;
......arrayed in purple and scarlet - This in part stands for her political power, and in part they point to her religous pomp. Gold, precious stones and pearls refer to her immense wealth. It is believed that these colours have, for centuries, been the colours of the Roman Catholic Church, and the wealth of this church is immense.
......having in her hand a golden cup..- Refers to her enticing manner of alluring men and nations. Religion can be very alluring and eventually become a trap. Many are trapped in the chains of religion today, even in the church of God where His power and authority are meant to be in full expression.
"having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" [2 Tim. 3:5]
The gold and religous trappings - appeal to the sensual, material and religous bent of man's sinful nature. He admires this, he is awed by it, and it blinds him.
.....abominations and filthiness - Man's religion offers no solution to the flesh. It's the flesh seeking to overcome the flesh and it profits nothing. These may refer to the various forms of idolatry involved in the worship of God through images, statues, and medals (achievements) etc. Filthiness (Unclean things) does not only refer to the natutre of the doctrines taught, but what they lead to in life, immorality and impurity!
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. [John 6:63]
....and on her forehead a name..- In ancient times, the practice of harlots was to write their names on their foreheads for easy recognition, which showed the shamelessness of their character, revealing a seared conscience from continual rejection of God's truth.
.....Babylon The Great - is the secret name. This refers not only to the city of Babylon, but to a religous system, the Babylonianism of ancient time, which will reach its peak in the tribulation.
......Mother of Harlots....- This points to the source. Besides the concept of origin or source of all spiritual idolatry and false religions, the word "mother" indicates the position the harlot will play in the final days, gathering all the form of false religions under her wings for the one great world-wide harlot system.
Martyrdom of Believers (Rev. 17:6a) - Refers to the rampant matrydom of believers during this time This is one of the ways satan will promote the one-world church system - by annihilation of all opposition.
John Marvelled (Rev. 17:6b) - Another word for Marvel here is to Wonder. The greek word here is "to be amazed, surprised" or "to wonder at something with attentive interest". Shouldn't that be the effect that Bible study and the word of God have on our hearts when we open the Word and study, reflecting on its marvelous truth? We should be interested in the details of God's revelation, its explanation and application. When this is done, God sees to it that that we have an opportunity to learn and to know.
"And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." [Jer. 29:13]
Description of the Woman (Rev. 17:7)- The angel's question about John's amazement at the sight of the fully decked and pompous woman and description shows we should not marvel at the woman which appears in such pompous and religous attire because she's so satanic and thereby destructive and deceptive also - these are some of the consequences and effects of evil. We should never be deceived by outward form of religousity no matter their outward attractiveness of influence or power as is the case of false ecumenical (promotion of unity among churches) and godless system.
And finally, regardless of the details of who the beast is, we know that its ultimate end will be destruction. But before he meets his end, he will deceive "those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world." The opposite side of this verse is very encouraging to the believer when you notice that your name has been written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world. Your name was not placed there at the point of your salvation. Your name was there before you were saved.before you were born.even before the foundation of the world. If you have believed in Jesus as your Savior, you can be confident that God chose you and has placed your name in the Book of Life. What an encouragement! You didn't choose God; He chose you! Because He chose you, He will be sure to preserve you in His grace. Amen!
"just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love," [Ephesians 1:4]
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Tuesday, September 25 2012
In the study last week, we considered the first five bowls judgment comparing them with the trumpet judgment. We looked at the similarities and considered the intensity of the suffering. In today's study we will look at the trailer of the last two bowls judgment and the divinely orchestrated end of events.
"And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared."
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; similar to that of the sixth trumpet judgment. A cruel army arose from the great river region to kill a third of mankind. (Rev 9:14). The Euphrates River is called "the great river" in Genesis 15:18. The importance of the river becomes apparent as the text unfolds. It dried up.
So that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east God dries the great river Euphrates to prepare the way for the kings of the east (for the slaughter of the Battle of Armageddon at the appointed time). It would appear that the kings were already on their journey to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army Rev 19:19b; so the Lord clears the way for them to plunge to their deaths.
Interestingly, even the Devil is a pawn in God's hands. You will expect that by now he would know better. See Isaiah 45:7
"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things."
"And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty"
The dragon, the beast and the false prophet released demonic spirits to influence the kings of the world by performing signs that will cajole them. So God dries up the river Euphrates for the kings of the east and the dragon, the beast and the false prophet cajoles the kings of the world to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty
"Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame."
"Behold, I come as a thief" is a warning, but this verse is also meant to be a promise to those who read it before Armageddon is fought. Only to the wicked, will He come as a thief.
"Blessed is he that watcheth" The receiver of this promise; the one who "watcheth" and awaits his LORD's coming is blessed. See 1Thessalonians 5:2-9
"To keep one's garments" imply a carefulness to walk in holiness as well as preparedness; because it is the one who is unprepared (asleep, indulging) that will be caught naked.
"And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon."
The place of "the war of great day of God, the Almighty" is called (in Hebrew) Har-Magedon. This is the only place in the Bible where the word occurs. The Hebrew word can be translated to be either a hill or mountain. Megiddon "was an ancient city located on a plain in the southwest portion of the Valley of Jezreel (Jewish name) or Esdraelon (Greek name)."
Two great mountains stand to the northeast and southeast of the hill of Megiddo: Mt. Tabor and Mt. Gilboa. Between these two mountains run the valley of Jezreel, which is fifteen miles wide at its widest point. It will be the place of God's great slaughter of the nations depicted in Revelation 19:11-21.
"And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, it is done."
The seventh angel poured out his vial into the air, introducing the final bowl judgment. The seventh and final bowl-carrying angel punishes the air. The earth (land), water, fire and air are the four elements that are the objects of God's wrath.
A great voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, "It is done." God at this stage pronounces, "It is done," What is done? It usually refers to something being over, finished or completed. However, it must be kept in mind that bowls six and seven are given in summary fashion. We will see the details in Chapters 17-19.
"And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty."
Having poured his bowl upon the air, lightning and thunder rocked the air followed by a great earthquake unparalleled in all of human history.
"And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great."
The great city . . . What city? Revelation 11:8 identifies Jerusalem as "the great city."
Divided into three parts: Zechariah 13:8 says: "And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein."
Zechariah 14:2 "For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city."
Zechariah 14:5 also implies that God will empty Jerusalem of his people just prior to His arrival with His angels for the battle of Armageddon.
The cities of the nations fell: as a result of the earthquake, the rest of the world fell.
Babylon the great was remembered before God apart from suffering the effect of the earthquake, God poured out the worst expression of His wrath the world will ever know upon it. Islands and mountains disappeared and then He sent a great hail from heaven; stones weighing about 45kg!
Now that we have seen the trailer of the end of events, I invite you to tune in for the actual unfolding of the end as God unleashes His wrath but yet in it all He still sends a warning for those who would care to listen!
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Friday, September 07 2012
Last week we saw the Joy and celebration of them who got the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God (Rev.15:2) They sang high praises to God, and His Lamb, for giving them the grace to overcome. We also saw the Angels with the seven golden vials full of the wrath of God ready to release the wrath of God (Rev.15:7). Our emphasis last week was on the content of their songs. It was pure praises and worship directed to God (Rev.15:3,4).
This week we shall study the effects of the wrath of God on the earth as the Angels were releasing the seven last plagues.
There is a great deal of similarity in the judgments of the trumpets (Rev.8&9) and bowls. In both, the first series deals with the earth (Rev.8:7 with 16:2), the second series deals with the sea (Rev.8:8-9 with 16:3), the third series deals with the rivers and fountains of water (Rev.8:10-11 with 16:4), the fourth series deals with the sun (Rev.8:12 with 16:8), the fifth series deals with darkness (Rev.8:12 with 16:10), the sixth series deals with the Euphrates (Rev.9:13-14 with 16:12), and the seventh series deals with lightning, thunders, and earthquakes (Rev.11:19b with 16:17-21).
1) The First Bowl: Painful Sores (Rev.16:1,2)
And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God on the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial on the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore on the men which had the mark of the beast, and on them which worshipped his image.
This bowl resulted in "loathsome" (evil) and "malignant" (painful) sores. Can you imagine if you had a case of terrible sores over your entire body? You would be unable to walk, sit, or lie down without pain. Such will be the case during the tribulation for those who experience these sores.
It is important to see that these sores break out "on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image." This plague and those that follow are not the expression of God's wrath against sin in general, nor are they punishments for individual wrongdoing. The judgment comes from God because of the world's allegiance to God's supreme opponent. Since these people received the Antichrist's mark (Rev.13:16-18; 14:9-10). They begin to pay the penalty for their allegiance.
2) The Second Bowl: sea turns to blood ( Rev.16:3)
And the second angel poured out his vial on the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.
The Greek text here is very graphic. Literally it reads, "And it (sea) became blood as of a dead man," i.e., like a dead man wallowing in his own blood. Every living thing (sea creature) in the sea will die. Imagine all the world's oceans and seas turning to blood "like that of a dead man." In the second trumpet judgment, one-third of all sea life perished (Rev 8:8-9). The emphasis here is greater with the phrase "every living thing in the sea died." The stench alone would make most people want to die. It will wreck fishing and it is bound to affect ocean navigation, transportation and shipping. Quite frankly, this is far beyond our comprehension.
3) The Third Bowl: inland waters turn to blood (Rev.16:4-7).
And the third angel poured out his vial on the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, You are righteous, O Lord, which are, and were, and shall be, because you have judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments.
Not only are the world's oceans and seas affected, so are the fresh bodies of water ("the rivers and the springs"). Even these "became blood." This resembles the first Egyptian plague where the Nile River and its tributaries were turned into blood and all the fish died (Exod 7:14-21). There will be no fresh water to drink on the earth. During this period of judgment, fresh water to drink will be more valuable than oil! After all, people cannot exist long without any water to drink.
"The angel of the waters" literally refers to an angel who has jurisdiction over the waters of the earth as one of the varied ministries of angels. As the one in charge of this area he makes an important statement vindicating the holiness of God and setting forth the reason for this judgment (vss. 5-6).
These apostate and rebellious people have slain and shed the blood of believers, thus, just as the saints receive rest and reward for their faith, so these will receive punishment fitting the nature of their crimes. They have only blood to drink. They have been blood thirsty?now they get their fill. This gives us another indication that during the Tribulation the shedding of the blood of believers will be without parallel in history.
Two principles can be found in Rev.16:6-7: First, the world will one day pay for its treatment of believers (Rom 12:19). They rejected those who preached, and offered them the "water of life." God judges them for it by turning their water to blood. Second, because the world rejected the blood that brings forth life (Jesus), God poured out blood that brings forth death. The lesson is clear: reject what the blood of Jesus gave to save you and you will perish for eternity.
And the fourth angel poured out his vial on the sun; and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which has power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
The fourth trumpet judgment darkened the sun (Rev.8:12), but this judgment increases the sun's intensity. God will increase the intensity of the sun's heat and light rays to such a degree that it will scorch and burn the skin of men. Some scientists claim we are not experiencing global warming while others maintain the earth is cooling off. Both are in for a surprise (1 Cor. 1:25).
"And men were scorched with fierce heat and they blasphemed the name of God." This again demonstrates two things: (a) men clearly recognize the source of the plagues, but (b) they will have become so hardened in their souls they refuse to repent. They will have reached the point of no return. This was clear when they took the mark of the beast.
This hardening of the soul (or heart) poses a warning for all of us. Anyone who becomes negative toward the Lord, grows indifferent to His Word, and ignores the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit, can begin to harden his heart and become more and more callused (Heb. 3:7; Eph. 4:17-19). One way we can see such a condition developing in our lives is by the way we murmur and complain or look for "pity parties" among our friends. This is a sure indication that the heart has become somewhat hardened (Heb. 3:7-19; with 1 Cor. 10:5-10. Note particularly verse 10.)
5) The Fifth Bowl: the Beast's throne in darkness and pain (Rev.16:10-11).
And the fifth angel poured out his vial on the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds
The bowl is poured out "upon the throne of the beast. This is the land beast of Revelation 13 who will receive his power from Satan and who will become the object of man's worship. Neither Satan nor this Beast can alleviate this judgment. This will clearly illustrate that there is only one hope, the Eternal God and Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ whom the world has by-in-large rejected; the One who alone is the Light of the world. What irony strikes here (John 1:3-5, 9-11)!
This is just a preview of the hell that is to come (Matt 8:12; 13:42). Those who reject Christ will spend eternity in darkness. But this ultimate fate is unnecessary. Hell was not prepared for humans. It was prepared for the Devil and his angels (Matt 25:41).
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Friday, September 07 2012
We considered the preservation and rapture of the 144,000 Jewish Believers just before the final wrath of God in our last study. The qualities of these Believers are worthy of emulation for us, namely non-defilement, following of the Master, and no guile (willful deceit of the heart). Finally, we saw God, who would not wish that any should perish, allow angels to preach before executing judgement on the earth. As we were taught last week: "the study should make us to appreciate our salvation even more; that we were fruits of the harvest of souls borne out of God's love and not that of His wrath". Indeed, it should even make us to do all that is required of us to hold on our faith with Godly fear and reverence. Today we will look a sort of preface to the final expression of God wrath and lessons for present day believers.
Another sign (vs 1)
1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
John had yet another sign which was the third sign in this book (Recall the first two in Revelation 12: 1 and 3). Seven angels were introduced having the last plagues as a final expression of God's wrath.
What John saw (vs 2-8)
2a And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire:
John was attempting to describe what he saw. Note the word "as it were", so his description will be more figurative. We can compare with Rev. 8 where John saw also seven angels while one of them came in with "the prayers of all the saints" like incense at the altar in heaven, filled the censer with fire from the altar and poured the fire on the earth in judgment (8:3-5). Here, however, as we see in the following verses, the saints are present themselves. Can we conclude that prayers of the saints trigger judgment?
The saints and what they were doing
2b and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
There are divergent views on the composition of this group. While some believe that they are the 144,000 in the preceding chapter (see for instance IVP New Testament Commentaries), others believe they are Tribulation Martyrs - group in Rev. 7:9-17 (E.g. Bible Knowledge Commentaries). It will suffice to say that these people are overcomers and it is interesting to note that they had harps of God with which they would rejoice and praise God.
It is also very important to highlight the importance of music before God. God enjoys music and infact He dwells in the praises of His people (Ps. 22:3). He described David as a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22). David was a skillful musician and indeed that skill brought him to the palace:
I Sam 16:16: Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better.
I Sam 18: 10: The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did.
As believers, we must not joke with music.
Content of the Music: They sang the song of Moses and the Lamb. Of course the song is not exactly those recorded in Exo15:1-18, Ps 90 but they all have same spirit namely celebrating the power, holiness, marvelous works and the justice of our God. This should be the content of our own music individually and corporately as a church. Any song that does not reflect these attributes of God must be thrashed!!!
Beginning of the wrath
5 And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
These verses outline the commencement of the wrath of God. The temple was opened so that the angels carrying plagues can exit. We should also note the description of the clothing of the angels: pure and white which should also remind us that we must be holy as believer as a prerequisite to seeing God (Heb 12:14).
God is the Everlasting God (He lives forever). Shouldn't we be excited to have this God as our Father? Shouldn't we just trust and obey this Eternal God? No matter what the present situation is, our God who lives forever is still on the throne able to do according to His will, therefore, we must take solace in this.
The glory of God is described here as a smoke similar to description given in Ex 40:35, 19:18, Isa 6:4, I Kings 8:1-66. It is amazing the precision of God's word.
In conclusion, we see a prelude to the judgment bowls containing plagues carried by seven angels. Prior to the exiting of these angels, the saints that had just been vitorious praised God with harps and song. The content of their song must strike chord with us as believers. The song was not about Moses neither should the song we sing be about us but about the majesty, justice, power, holiness, etc of our God. It should also serve as a reminder of what God expects from us:
Micah 6:8 "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
Contributor: Akin Akande
Thursday, August 23 2012
In our last study we looked at the Beast from the Land. This land beast (also called the false prophet) operated under the authority of the sea beast and was totally committed to promoting this sea beast. We also learnt of its deceptive powers and it how it will coerce by deception people to take the mark of the beast.
In today's study we will look at a new turn of events; separated into two parts. The first part addresses the 144,000 that were removed (raptured) from the face of the earth to avoid the wrath of God and the second part, the final warnings before and consequently the wrath of God!
PART 1 - The 144, 000
"And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father's Name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from Heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a New Song before the Throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that Song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the Earth."
In this vision, John sees the LORD Jesus Christ on "mount Sion", which in this instance, refers to a heavenly scene. "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels" (Hebrews 12:22).
· The 144,000 refers to the Jewish Believers, who were sealed in Chapter 7. This triumphal scene in Heaven indicates that the 144,000 were preserved from the Antichrist and were raptured before God's wrath (see Rev 7:3)
· The "voice from Heaven" that John heard was that of the Almighty God, "as the Voice of many waters". See Ezekiel 43:2 and 2Samuel 22:14
· The "harpers harping with their harps" were most probably the 144,000 Jewish Believers, who have been raptured before God's wrath was released as they would have much to celebrate! And also because they were the only ones who could learn the song being sang.
· "No man could learn" the song of the 144,000, because God has covenanted His secret personally and only to those that fear Him. (Psalm 25:14).
"These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the Throne of God." And I saw another angel fly in the midst of Heaven, having the Everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the Earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,"
· Not defiled: In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul speaks of the entire Body of Believers as a "chaste virgin" (2Corinthians 11:2). Mostly when we talk about virginity, we often use it to describe a woman who has not known a man sexually, but it was also used to identify both men and women of Israel, (Isaiah 37:22). However, the "virgins" described here, "were not defiled with women" indicates that the 144,000 were unmarried and chaste men.
· First fruits unto God and to the Lamb: These 144,000 male virgins represent the first of the eventual harvest of the elect Israel at the Second Coming of the LORD Jesus Christ; therefore, they are called the "firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb".
· To "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth" describes the action of the 144,000; but, this should also be the characteristic of the Saints of these Last Days. Read 1Peter 2:21. The 144,000 have simply followed their Master home to Heaven, at His Command, "Come up Hither" (Revelation 11:12).
· No Guile: In completing the description of the 144,000, John records that "in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the Throne of God". Guile is the wilful deceit of heart that cannot be separated from a man without the cleansing that comes from the forgiveness of God. See 1Peter 2:22-23
PART 2 - The Victorious Judgment of the Lamb
. "Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His Judgment is come: and worship Him that made Heaven, and Earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, "The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the Saints: here are they that keep the Commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
Evidently, the All Wise God expects to see the very last fruits finally and certainly harvested. See (2Peter 3:9) So He sends the first two angels akin to giving the world a last chance before judgment. Before sending the third who declares the consequences of worshipping the Beast and receiving his mark (verse 9) - Eternal Damnation, (Verse10). No one ought to doubt the sincerity of this threat from the God. Read Titus 1:2 & Numbers 23:19).
· The First Angel's Announcement: Was a universal declaration of the necessity and opportunity of embracing the fear, glory, and worship of God to the inhabitants of the earth.
· The Second Angel's Announcement: Was a collective warning that the worship system of Babylon the Great that made the nations drink of the wrath of her fornication was fallen (that era was over).
· The Third Angel's Announcement: Was a warning to individual hearers against their personal participation in the worship of the Beast. "If any man . . ."
Verse 12 introduces verse 13, both of which are an interlude of peace between the warnings and threatening to those who "worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark" and the final judgments of the "great winepress of the wrath of God".
Three words stand out in verse 13 (Patience, Commandments, and faith.)
· First, the "patience of the Saints" is that attribute of love that "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (1Corinthians 13:7). Patience comes only from the "trying of your faith" (James 1:3), which will be greatly needed by the Tribulation Saints to complete their appointed course of trying, testing, and suffering, that they "may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:4) in preparation for Heaven.
· Second, keeping the "Commandments of God" is not simply the hallmark of a true Saint, "My sheep hear My Voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27); but, it represents our joyful opportunity to demonstrate our love for Him, "Thy Law do I love" (Psalm 119:163). Resisting fidelity to the Antichrist by refusing his mark is an act of the Tribulation Saints' loving obedience to the Commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3).
· And, finally, the "faith of Jesus" is the Saints' supreme confidence in our LORD and Saviour, Whose Name "is above every name" (Philippians 2:9) especially above the name of the Antichrist-- that Jesus will "yet deliver us" (2Corinthians 1:10) from the Antichrist or from dishonouring Him by yielding to temptation. (2Peter 2:9).
"And I heard a voice from Heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the LORD from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the Temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in Thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for Thee to reap; for the harvest of the Earth is ripe"
· "Blessed are the dead which die in the LORD from henceforth"; this makes special reference to those who have died (the dead) and those who will die (which die in the LORD from henceforth). The encouragement is true for all Saints throughout history, but is especially necessary for those who will be martyred, reminding them of the Eternal Blessedness of those that "resist steadfast in the faith" (1Peter 5:9).
· "and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Man in His hand a sharp sickle". Christ Jesus, Who is the "LORD of the Harvest" (Luke 10:2), He is also the "Judge of All the Earth" (Genesis 18:25), to Whom the Father "hath committed all judgment" (John 5:22). "Clouds and darkness are round about Him: Righteousness and Judgment are the habitation of His Throne" (Psalm 97:2)
· The "golden crown" on the head of the LORD Jesus indicates His authority over all. (Phil. 2:9-11).
· The Apocalyptic "Harvest of the Earth" will be both a gathering of the Righteous and a separating out of the Wicked. Read Matthew 3:10-12 and 25:31-32
"And He that sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the Earth; and the Earth was reaped." And another angel came out of the temple which is in Heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the Earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the Earth, and gathered the vine of the Earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs."
· Verses 16&17 tell us that the time for the great judgment that was constantly talked about and anticipated had finally come. Read Matthew 13:39, 41
· Verse 18 describes "another angel". . . from the altar which had the power over fire". God is a "Consuming Fire" (Deuteronomy 4:24), and "His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire" (Hebrews 1:7).
· Verse 19: Reveals that the very fact that the harvested vines with their fruit are cast "into the great winepress of the wrath of God" indicates that the harvest is of some form of (bloody) judgment; probably the much talked about Armageddon see Verse10, Psalm 60:3, Proverbs 4:17, Amos 2:8.
· Verse 20: The "city" refers to Jerusalem, for it and its godly inhabitants will again make it the "apple of God's eye" (Lamentations 2:18). Blood will come out of the winepress "even unto the horse bridles". The amount of bloodshed will be so much that it will yield a flow of blood deep enough to come up to the bridle of a horse. A "thousand and six hundred furlongs" is the distance in which the blood will flow "unto the horse bridles" 1,600 furlongs is about 183.86 miles which is approximately 296km. The distance between Newry and Cork is 291km. We are talking about a flow of blood across Ireland deep enough to drown a horse! That is some blood!
This chapter combines both a heavenly scene with the "hundred forty and four thousand before the throne of God" and an earthly scene of three angels preaching to the Earth. It makes a statement that combines both the past and future about the dead which die in the LORD and it concludes with another three angels executing judgment on the Earth led by Jesus Christ Himself. The study should make us appreciate our salvation even more; that we were fruits of the harvest of souls borne out of God's love and not that of His wrath. If that was all, then one would say "job done! Blood shed - it's all over!" But no; eternity still awaits all!
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Friday, August 03 2012
Last week, we saw that the beast which came from the sea derived it power from the Dragon (Satan). He carried out three major assignments; blasphemy against God, make war with the saints and all that dwell on the earth worshiped him (Those whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world). Notice that the beast operated within the limit of his given power.
Another beast is revealed to John, only this one is distinguished from the previous since he came out of the earth or land. This completes the trinity of evil?the dragon (Satan), the beast out of the sea (The anti-Christ), and now, the beast out of the earth (the devil's "unholy spirit"). The land beast operates under the authority of the sea beast) and is totally committed to promoting not himself, but the first beast. The beast out of the land is also called the false prophet in other places in Revelation (16:13; 19:20; 20:10), probably because he promotes the first beast.
1) His description, Power & Wonders [Verse 11-13]
"And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. And he exercises all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men"
And I beheld another beast." "Another" is the Greek allos meaning, "another of the same kind." He plays a different role, but in character he is another one who is beastly, rapacious, cruel, and of course hostile to God's people. And he had two horns." The horns are symbolic of great power, but not to the degree of the first beast who had ten horns. His horns were like those of "a lamb." As the lamb is a religious symbol, a symbol of sacrifice, so this beast is a religious figure and, as a lamb is also symbolical of a mild, lamb-like manner, so this second beast will adopt a mild lamb-like appearance, but he will be a wolf in sheep's clothing. He was promoting the 1st beast just like the Holy Spirit came to speak of Jesus Christ (Jhn.16:13-14). He is a counterfeit of the Holy Spirit.
Note that the signs are described as "great," the Greek megas meaning "large" but it is used of that which is great in the sense of significant, prominent, important, and outstanding. The signs the second beast performs won't be the run of the mill miracles that one hears about with pseudo healers or the paranormal events of today.
"So that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men" illustrates something of the power of his miraculous activity. Whatever this will be, it is clearly designed to counterfeit the miraculous works of God, either that of Elijah in 1 Kings 18:38 or that of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:5 (2 Kings 1:10-15; Lev. 10:1-2). Some have suggested that this could be a reference to fire from heaven to imitate that which occurred at Pentecost (Acts 2:3) and could be a reference to pseudo-charismatic gifts to create a counterfeit religious community whose allegiance is to antichrist.
2) His Deception [Verse 14-15]
"And deceives them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."
And he deceives....The next thing we saw about the signs is that they are designed to deceive, they are deceptive. "Deceives" is the Greek planaw meaning "to lead astray, cause to wander, mislead, deceive." This word is consistently used in Scripture of the work of false teachers who lead people away from God into some form of false worship ( 2 Thess. 2:9-12). Satan and his Prophets are deceivers (2 Thes. 2:3-4).
This should be a warning to all of us. Miraculous signs are not in themselves a proof that whatever is going on is from God. There are other issues that must be discerned with the Word of God as the final index and authority, never just our experience. However, we are living in an esoteric, mystic oriented age where reality is too often reduced to a personal experience or some kind of enlightenment. Just note the rise of the psychic "hotlines" and the emphasis in TV shows on the paranormal or on psychic phenomena. Even within the body of Christ, the emphasis has moved away from the Word of God as our authority to an emphasis on phenomena and subjective experiences, the kind promoted in many charismatic circles today.
The image which breathes and speaks is the second great deception of these verses. The word "image" is eikwn which is not a mere copy but in fact partakes and constitutes the very reality of the thing of which it is a likeness. The image is designed not only to portray a likeness to the beast, but the reality of his rule and worship. Whatever the image will be it will portray a likeness of the beast which becomes a symbol of his power and majesty, and of the character of his system.
3) The Significance and Meaning of the Number 666[Verse 16-18]
"And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred three score and six.
Here we see the means by which the second beast carefully and exclusively distinguishes between those who will worship the beast and those who will not so that they might be identified and killed. He forces all men of every class and category of society to receive the mark of the beast either in their right hand or in the forehead, two places that are prominent and easily seen.
Here is sheer tyranny. The word "mark" is the Greek caragma which means "an impress made by a stamp" like a brand used on slaves and cattle. Men will become the slaves of the beast and will somehow carry the identifying mark of their slavery.
To enforce the worship of the beast and to make life impossible without his worship, men cannot buy or sell without this mark. As a result of the decree to worship the beast and be branded with his mark, multitudes of believers will be killed directly because they do not have the mark and refuse to receive it or because they starve to death since they cannot buy or sell. Some will survive, however, by living off the land or because other believers who have food share with those who do not (Matt. 24:15-25 and 25:31-40).
We should note that to receive the mark of the beast is tantamount to the worship of the beast, to blasphemy of God, and rejection of Jesus Christ (13:8; 17:8; 14:9-12; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4)
In conclusion, the general character of the Tribulation is clearly portrayed in this chapter. It is a time of slavery, blasphemy, apostasy, and gross satanic activity. Let us thank God that we have the blessed hope of the rapture (Titus 2:13). But let us not, as we contemplate on all this, forget our responsibility to be involved in the propagation of the gospel of Christ, the only hope for the world.
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Friday, July 27 2012
Last week, we had the opportunity to "watch" an "imaginary" movie titled "The Woman, Her Son, and the Dragon" filled with breadthtaking events. It is a must-get "DVD"! We saw how John saw a sign (or wonder) of a Woman travailing in birth and about to deliver a man Child while a red Dragon was waiting to devour the Child. The Woman might be seen as the Nation of Israel (Physical or Spiritual), the Child is Christ while the Dragon is Satan. She gave birth to the Child; the Dragon couldn't devour the Child, lost the battle in heaven and was unsuccessful in his attempt to destroy the Woman. Being therefore, as what one can term, a serial loser, the Dragon directed his wrath towards the rest of the Woman's children. Included amongst these children are true children of God, Jews or Gentiles. On a very bright side, we have a recipe for success namely three weapons: the blood of the lamb, the word of our testimony and the refusal to love one's life. This week, we will consider a wild wounded (injured) beast rising from the sea to whom the Dragon gave power. It is well known that one of the most brutal (wild) animals are those that are wounded: Snakes, cats, even humans. What can we then learn from this John vision?
Description of the beast [Verse 1-3a]
1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed:
This beast has similar description with the Dragon in Rev. 12:3 "and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads." The description also bear resemblance with the vision Daniel had in Daniel 7:1-27. This has made many bible scholars to interpret the head of the beast as different world empires including EU, etc, it will suffice for us to know that the beast came up after the trouble that took place in the preceding Chapter and having a tyrannical and persecuting power whose obvious target will be mainly the Church (true believers). We also note that his power was derived from the Dragon and he has a brutally wounded head Gen 3:15. The ?healing' of the wound might have been a deception.
Same "old story" from Satan [Verse 3b-6]
3b and all the world wondered after the beast.4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
Satan's ?tactic' has not changed since the beginning. Recall from last week in Ezek. 28:15-19 and also in Isaiah 14:12-15 that he was cast down because of his pride. He used similar trick on Eve in the garden of Eden in Gen 3:5 "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." He is always seeking attention and wanting to take ?centre stage'. Our attitude as Christians must be different from this as succinctly admonished by Paul in Philippians 2:1-18 which we will read and reflectively meditate on. It is also note worthy that the beast is only allowed to do what he did for an appointed time and when his time is over, he will be thrown to where he is destined to be.
Read this again from last week's lesson: "Satan has perpetuated the lie that he is God's opposite. He is not God's opposite. He is not omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent. He is only a created being. In our times of discouragement and seeming defeat, we must remember that the powers of good will overcome the powers of evil. Satan and his demonic forces may win some battles along the way but they will ultimately lose the war!"
Persecuting the saints and the inhabitants of the earth [Verse 7-10]
7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
As believers, we must understand that we are the first target of Satan and his allies. Since he lost his place in heaven and he is fully aware that we are joint heirs with Christ, he does everything to frustrate the reality of this hence we must patiently endure and faithfully hold fast to Christ.
Are you certain that your name is written in the book of life? Is your name still in this book of life? Are you still running the Christian race as expected from you by Christ Jesus? Are you still standing firm in the faith? Will you go with the first flight?
Let us all examine ourselves tonight as the scripture admonishes us in 2 Cor. 13:5 "Test yourselves to discover whether you are true believers: put your own selves under examination. Or do you not know that Jesus Christ is within you, unless you are insincere?"
In conclusion, let us reflect on these verses of the scripture:
Hebrews 12:1-3: "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."
Matt. 24:13 "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."
Contributor: Akin Akande
Thursday, July 19 2012
In last week's study, we looked at the concluding part of chapter 11 in a study titled "The Witnesses Resurrected". We looked at the resurrection, glorification and translation of the two witnesses as well as the calamity that befell God's enemies on earth and the proclamation of God's Kingdom and the worship of our Maker. We concluded the study with the announcement of God's pay back for both the good and the bad.
This week, the study takes a new turn. In these intriguing verses, crammed with symbols and figurines, we delve into the excitement of these breathtaking events (akin to a blockbuster movie) as we watch Satan lose the battle and realize that he is all bark and no bite! So imagine for a moment, the word is spread round the streets of heaven: "Showing tonight in HD 3D - "The Woman, Her Son, and the Dragon"". You arrive at heavens cinema and take a front row seat, the curtains are drawn and Revelation 12: 1-17 unfolds . . .
1. Verses 1 - 4: Two Great Signs (An Attempt To Understand The Signs)
"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
It is important to note that John referred to the "woman" and the "dragon" as signs. A sign is defined as: "An object, quality, or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else."
· Symbol 1 - The Woman
The fact that the "woman" is referred to as "a great sign" means that John was not referring to a literal woman. Although there are many thoughts on what the woman represents e.g. the virgin Mary; (which by the way would not be wrong as we see in verse 5) as well as the Nation of Israel (physical & spiritual).
The thought however that I believe is more appropriate is the Nation of Israel (physical & spiritual). The Bible, in the Old Testament referred to Israel as a woman (God's wife). See Isaiah 54:5,6; Jeremiah 3:6,8; 31:32; Ezekiel 16:32; Hosea 2:16.
The symbol of Israel as a woman travailing in birth is found in several Old Testament passages. (See Isaiah 26:17-18; 66:7-12; Hosea 13:13; Micah 4:10; 5:2-3).
· Symbol 2 - The sun, moon, and twelve stars
The symbols of the sun, moon, and twelve stars remind us of Joseph's dream in Genesis 37:9-11 refer to Jacob, his wife and the 12 tribes of Israel. (This "validates" the thought in Symbol 1 above)
· Symbol 3 - The Child
This is obviously a reference to Jesus Christ who, as promised in Scripture, was from the nation of Israel. Verse 5 says the child is the One who rules with a rod of iron. See Matthew 1:1-25; Psalm 2:8-9; Revelation 2:27; 19:15.
· Symbol 4 - The Red Great Dragon
In verse 9, the Bible identified the dragon as Satan. The description is also symbolical; his "red" color suggests bloodshed and death, the seven heads represent mountains (Rev 17:9) and the ten horns represent kings (Rev 17:12; Dan 7:7-8, 20, 24). Its tail "drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth:" These "stars" are fallen angels who revolted with Satan at his fall (see Isa 14:12-17; Ezek 28:12-14).
Verse 4a creates some sort of "special effects" The past and present events all happening at once (in John's eyes). He brings together events in Ezek 28:12-14 and his vision in verses 1-3
Verse 4b says, "the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child."
Satan is not ignorant about God's plan of redemption. He also knows that redemption would come through the Messiah who would come from the lineage of Israel. As we journey through the Bible, we find Satan's attempt to wipe out God's plan in the persecution of the Jews culminating in Matthew 2:13
2. Verses 5 - 6: Jesus - Triumphant And Caught Up!
"And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days"
Verse 5 perfectly summarizes Christ's birth, his life, and ascension into heaven. Satan failed to destroy Jesus at His birth, during His life, and in His death, Jesus Christ ascended victoriously into heaven.
3. Verses 7 - 10: The Final Battle - Angelic Victory!
"And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night."
"And there was war in heaven: . . ." Was this the same war referred to in Ezek 28:12-14 or is this a future event? It is almost like déjà vu; the use of the word "And" in the beginning of the verse will suggest that this time John's vision was futuristic. After the woman fled under God's protection, Satan and his angels went and waged war in heaven. It would be akin to the last effort in battles as we see in movies. He knew he was going down but not without a fight; and down he went! He and his angels for the second and final time. While Satan and his demons, in Ezek 28:12-14, fell and were cast out of heaven, Satan still had access to heaven to accuse the brethren (see Job 1:6-7; 2:1-2 & Zech 3:1-2). However, after this battle in question, he will no longer be permitted access to heaven.
It is important to note that is NOT a battle between God and Satan, but between Michael and Satan. It is two created angels and their forces battling each other. Satan has perpetuated the lie that he is God's opposite. He is not God's opposite. He is not omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent. He is only a created being. In our times of discouragement and seeming defeat, we must remember that the powers of good will overcome the powers of evil. Satan and his demonic forces may win some battles along the way but they will ultimately lose the war!
4. Verses 11 - 12: The Weapons - Human Victory!
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time."
Verse 11 describes three weapons the martyrs will use to overcome Satan.
a) The Blood of the Lamb: The first weapon is "the blood of Lamb." The bloodshed on the cross ensures that God will forgive us (Rom 8:31-34). Thus, Satan's accusations, however true, are rendered null and void in God's court of law. So how can we practically apply this truth?
First, we have to honestly admit the truth of Satan's accusation: We are sinners!
Secondly, we should remind Satan that the blood of the Lamb covers us. Our sins have all been nailed to the cross of Christ and we will no longer be judged or accused by God for these sins.
b) The word of our testimony: The second weapon we have is the word of our testimony (see 1:9; 6:9). This refers to testimonies of both our lives and lips. We must be salt and light to our world (Matt 5:13-16). When we share our testimony, we move into Satan's territory and it's intimidating to him! Our testimony is powerful and irrefutable.
c) The refusal to love one's life: The third weapon we have is a refusal to love one's life. These tribulation martyrs were willing to lose anything and everything for Jesus: (reputation, status, and possessions, etc.) They were even willing to give up their lives for what they believed, even if it meant suffering the violent death of a martyr. See Rev. 2:10, John 10:11, 15. Revelation (1:9; 6:9; 14:12; 20:4).
Verse 12 is yet another encouragement why we should endeavor by God's grace to be on the first flight. While in heaven there will be rejoicing, on earth there will be woe! Satan knowing that he has only 1,260 days before Jesus Christ returns to the earth and binds him (20:1-2) unleashes his whole arsenal in one last desperate attempt to drag many down with him.
5. Verses 13 - 17: The War Against The Remnant
"And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
Satan tries to do everything in his power to destroy the woman (Israel). But God's provides a way for her (them) to escape. Once again the use of the word Eagle is a metaphor used to describe the way God will deliver Israel. God often uses this metaphor of the Eagle to refer to His protection of Israel (Ps 55:6-8; Isa 40:31). The comparison between an eagle that can fly overhead and an earth-bound serpent implies the superior protection of God. (Exodus 19:4; Deut 32:11).
In verse 15, he changes battle strategy - he "cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood."
Notice again that the Bible says water "as" a flood, it would be difficult to tell if the flood should be interpreted literally or figuratively. Because it is possible that Satan will use a Tsunami as a form of attack, and it could also be that he will pursue them with soldiers as a river (Jer. 46:7-8; 47:2-3; Ezek 38-39). A flood is also a biblical metaphor for overwhelming evil (Ps 18:4; 32:36; 69:2; 124:2-4; Isa 43:2). The flood however did not accomplish its task because the earth helped the woman, and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth. Isaiah 59:19
Satan is now three times a loser. He has failed to destroy the man child (verses1-6), he has lost the war in heaven (verses7-9), he has been unable to destroy the woman (verses13-16), and thus his wrath is directed toward the "rest of the woman's children." These "children" referred to here will be any true child of God, Jew or Gentile. (See 1 Cor. 2:1-2; 1 John 5:11-12 & 2 Timothy 3:12)
You get up from your seat and walk out of the cinema thinking to yourself; "how do they make it look so real?"You still feel the adrenaline rush during the war in heaven and the burst of excitement in verse 12 when the call was made to heaven to rejoice and the feelings for the inhabitants of earth. "How do they make it look so real?"
Well, because it is (or rather, it will be) real. So as you get into your car and drive home; remember that the Christian life is not a playground; it's a battleground! Do all you can to live for Jesus Christ in this life, prepare for and go through suffering when they come, get ready for the first flight because despite all, our concern should be to make the first flight and reap our eternal rewards. (As well as have a front row seat when the whole "drama" unfolds)
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Monday, July 16 2012
Two weeks ago, we looked at the first part of Chapter 11 where we considered the exploits of God's two prophets and the subsequent and resultant reactions of their oppositions. We were challenged by the speaker to ask ourselves if we are faithful witnesses to the command and charge of Jesus Christ, our Lord, that He commanded us before His ascension into glory. You will recall that the teaching ended with "those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth". The events take a glorious and enviable turn in the verses we will be looking at today. We will, amongst other things, see the awesomeness and faithfulness of Him, who has called us unto glory and Honour.
1] God's Witnesses Are Resurrected & Translated - (Verses 11-14 NKJV)
11 Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. 13 In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. 14 The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.
Remember Lazarus? John 11:17 records: "So when Jesus came, He found that he (Lazarus) had already been in the tomb four days" [Emphasis mine].
Why did Jesus wait for four (4) days?
Why did God wait for three and half days before resurrecting the dead witnesses?
Jesus said in the same John 11:4 "......but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." The dead witnesses' bodies were lying on the street for three and half days, already decaying. Recall also that there was merry making, rejoicing and sending of gifts by men because of the calamity that befell these men.
The very life-giving breath of God Almighty, same that was breathed into man (Gen 2:7) entered into these prophets, and they that were dead, stood on their feet. Let's imagine for once, the scenario. No wonder, the bible recorded that Great Fear fell on those who saw them. From drunken merry making one moment, to soberness and great fear the next. I can perceive most (if not all) frozen from their face down. It suddenly dawn on them that the end is what actually justifies the means. You see, it is never over with God until His will is accomplished! Are you at the verge of giving up? Be encouraged! The enemy of your soul is about to experience one of the greatest defeat of his life. Nothing beats God!
Notice also that these prophets were not just resurrected, they were glorified and translated. I believe they were not the only people that heard the voice from heaven, the emphasis on loud would indicate that every one present heard. Imagine a host of heavenly companies escorting these two to heaven above. How glorious it is to serve the Lord. These were going to get double honour for every shame they have suffered (Isaiah 61:7). This was witnessed by their enemies, how shameful.
Calamity for the Enemies
Now as a further demonstration of God's power and sovereignty over the beast and his system, and still in shock of the preceding events of the resurrection and ascension of the prophets, a great earthquake occurs in and around Jerusalem killing 7,000 people. Those who are left become terrified and give glory to God. Perhaps some are saved through this, but the others will simply confess the glory and power of God without repentance, or faith. They are like the fallen angels who believe and know the reality of God, and yet tremble in their confirmed state of rebellion against God (James 2:19). Because of the hardness of their hearts, these will have become confirmed in their unrepentant condition. They have reached the point of no return.
2] Seventh Trumpet: God's Kingdom Proclaimed
. 15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" 16 And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying:
"We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
19 Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail
The Effect and Consequence of the Seventh Trumpet
1] Here were loud and joyful acclamations of the saints and angels in heaven (Rev. 11:15). We need to carefully observe the following;
· The manner of their adorations: They rose from their seats, and fell on their faces, and worshipped God; they did it with reverence and humility.
· The matter of their adorations: They thankfully recognize the right of our God and Saviour to rule and reign over all the world: The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.
· They thankfully observe his actual possession of them, and reign over them; they give him thanks because he had taken to him his great power, asserted his rights, and exerted his power.
· They rejoice that this his reign shall never end: He shall reign forever and ever, till all enemies be put under his feet; none shall ever wrest the sceptre out of his hand.
These must be our attitude in the worship and adoration of our Maker! It's not just about the rhythm of the song; it's all about our God!
2] Here were angry resentments in the world at these just appearances and actings of the power of God (Rev. 11:18):
· The nations were angry; not only had been so, but were so still: their hearts rose up against God; they met his wrath with their own anger. And why were they angry?
· It was a time when God was taking a just revenge upon the enemies of his people, recompensing tribulation to those who had troubled them.
· It was a time in which he was beginning to reward his people's faithful services and sufferings; and their enemies could not bear it, they fretted against God, and so increased their guilt and hastened their destruction.
Remember what the psalmist says in Psalm 73? He mentioned that he "....was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.....(vs 3); Their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than heart could wish. (vs 7); He could not help but confess that "When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me- (vs 16); Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end" (vs 17).
The wicked had their chance for repentance, but they blew it. As God's anointed servants, we must have confidence and draw strength from the truth that He is sovereign and has all things under His control. We must not be moved by situations and circumstances. It may look like the enemy has an upper hand now, but let us remember, God is a faithful Rewarder and a just Judge.
3] Another consequence was the opening of the temple of God in heaven (Rev.11:19). This may infer two things;
· This may mean that there is now a more free communication between heaven and earth, prayer and praises more freely and frequently ascending and graces and blessings plentifully descending.
· It may also refer to the church (or kingdom) of God on earth, a heavenly temple. Recall that the kingdom, which refers to the reign and rule of the entire earth that God intended to be under man's authority and rule, but was wrested from man by Satan (Heb. 2:5-8). Satan became "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4) and "the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working [as a ruling king] in the sons of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2). There are really only two kingdoms?Satan's and God's (Col. 1:13). But through this trumpet and woe, Satan's kingdom will be totally destroyed and the world will come under the lordship of Christ
At the opening of the temple of God, we observe,
1. What was seen there? The ark of God's Testament. This was in the holy of holies; in this ark the tables of the law were kept.
2. What was heard and felt there: Lightnings, voices, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. The great blessing of the reformation was attended with very awful providences; and by terrible things in righteousness God would answer those prayers that were presented in his holy temple, now opened.
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Friday, June 29 2012
This chapter cuts right though the middle of the book of Revelations and poses a few significant though abstract conjunctions, personifications of symbolisms hitherto not critically analysed in past encounters, (Zechariah 4: 11-14). We are confronted with the realism and relevance of every single feature that scripture alludes to, especially if strategically positioned in their metaphysical realm. (Zechariah 3: 1-3), (Acts 10: 10-15)
The happenings within this period are still contained within the space and time of the sixth trumpet (Rev 9: 13), which perhaps shows the congruity between the last few actions of the tenth chapter and the eleventh thereby creating a veritable platform for the eleventh chapter to kick off. The command of taking the book and eating it is in perfect synch with the charge by the angel to take the reed and measure the temple, altar and the worshipers.
"And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein."
A reed in this sense will be a measuring instrument intended to give specificity and accuracy.
Why did the angel give the reed to John?
The Temple: Ourselves: 1 Corinthians 3: 16-17, 2 Corinthians 6: 16
The Altar: Our spirituality and connectivity: Judges 6: 25: 26, it represents a place of empowerment and reliance.
Worshippers: John 4: 23, God wants to know those who worship in truth and spirit.
"But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months."
The court outside the temple connotes the world where no form of refrain or restrain is exercised; the outer court is peopled by those who will not honour or reverence God and will not play by God's rules. Romans 1: 23-24, Hosea 4: 17, Psalms 28: 5. God puts timeline to all of the circumstances and situations of life Eccl: 3: 1-3. The outside court portrays the confused and decadent state of humanity and God's resolve to let him continue in his pernicious ways. 2 Thess. 2: 10-12
"And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, (1260), clothed in sackcloth."
These witnesses are the evidential reality of God's justification for every single decision God Has taken. Zachariah 4: 11-14. They will be the justifier of God when we stand face-to-face before Him. They prophesied dolefulness and calamitousness, sorrowfulness and lugubriousness. They wore sackcloth- a representation of degradation and wantonness; the extent of human depravity and spiritual hollowness that pervades the earth. And I will give power unto my two witnesses: God empowers us for such great assignments. Certain projects require divinely engineered empowerment if exploit and victory must be had. Luke: 10: 19, Matt: 10: 1, Acts: 10: 38, 1: 8
"These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth." Man has outdone himself. God's symbols of empowerment and refreshing, grace and mercy, strength and dominion, victory and success have become the harbinger of doom and gloom. Humanity is under extreme condition of hopelessness and utter helplessness. The extent of human depravedness compels God to send His witnesses whose tasks are to give illumination and refreshing to proclaim devastation. Lamentation 1: 3-5, Psalms 78: 58-64
"And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed."
Their persistent proclamation of doom will spark uncontrolled outburst of anger which will stir murderous intent in the hearts of the hearer and in a bid to want to silence them will make attempts to hurt them. Their proclamation will hit right at the heart of the inhabitants of the earth and bruise their egotistic mien and stir their madness to orchestrate the death of these witnesses; but thankfully God guarantees death for every Pharaoh insistent on unleashing terror to God's people. 1 Peter 3: 13, Lamentation 3: 37. I believe God reassures us of His protection in this wicked world and has given us His word to liberate ourselves from the entrapment and snare of the devil. Psalm 91: 1-16, 27: 1-4. Acts 7: 54, 57, 58
"These have power to shut heaven that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will." The enormous powers bestowed on these witnesses acts as catalyst in the accomplishing of their mandate. God specifically endured us with power in order to confound the heathen and compel conformity to the gospel. James 5: 17-18, 1 Kings 17:1. The desire and thirst for success in the kingdom and indeed in any physical or spiritual endeavour requires the entrenchment of power if any meaningful landmark is to be made in this plane. The extent of obedience you compel is directly proportional to the level of power with which you operate. Acts 19: 14-15. God has made available this power through His word. Matt 16: 18-19, 18: 18.
These witnesses had power to turn on the miraculous at will. They are the express executors of God's intention on the earth. They had power to use at their discretion. That is a great responsibility. Jesus had power to use at his discretion, but he was very careful with it. We must be careful with the blessings God permits through us and not be haughty or supercilious.
"And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them."
Try as the devil may he has no capacity to stop him who God has empowered until his assignment is completed. These witnesses could not be touched until their tasks were done. They finished their mission before the devil came out to kill them. Satan's capacity to win any battle against any believer will be predicated upon the completion of the latter's assignment or purpose. Acts 12: 7-9; Luke 4: 28-30. Numbers 23: 23, Isaiah: 54: 17.
"And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified."
This scenario paints quite an interesting narrative especially by the conjunction of the death of these witnesses with the death of our Saviour. Sodom and Egypt are allegories to the height of man's fallen nature; the place of iniquity and unrighteousness. These two cities are symbolic of the depth of the fallen man. To be in Egypt or Sodom is a representation of spiritual hollowness and nothingness. These cities represents man's void of any modicum of spirituality and divinity. It is man at his lowest no matter what physical razzmatazz he tries to concoct.
Jesus Christ was crucified because of our abode in Egypt and delight with Sodom, our place of sinfulness and debauchery. Our sins sent Him to the cross. Spiritual Jerusalem represents man's righteousness and spiritual vibrancy. Gal 4: 25-26.
"And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves."
The death of the witnesses would be the relief of the workers of iniquity; to them; finally the tormentor of our soul and the harassers of our peace are no more. Now they proclaim their peace and the appeasement of their consciences by the death of these witnesses. And to show the depth of the pleasure of the death of the witnesses; they leave their bodies as spectacle for all to see. In the same way, Jesus hanging on the tree was a spectacle and a caricature for those passing by to behold with glee and contempt. The heathens' desire to leave the bodies unburied was simply because God intends to finish His work and cut it short in righteousness. The death of these witnesses was by no means the end of the story. God was going to work His awesomeness in the lifeless bodies of these martyrs.
"And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth."
The demise of these witnesses spurred uncontrollable joy in the inhabitants of the earth that they began to exchange gifts. Their hatred for these witnesses suspended any iota of rationality in them. They not only rejoiced that they were dead but they actually went out of their way to give gifts to each other. This encapsulates the extent of man's dissipation and licentiousness. Early Christian history is replete with stories of witnesses being hacked to death or mauled by wild beast at the cheering and jeering of an eccentric crowd.
The story of these witnesses fits perfectly with the story of our Saviour. His death brought joy to the obsessed sectarian mob of the Pharisees. The gospel of righteousness stirs murderous anger in the camp of the enemy. Satan will do anything to stop the gospel of Jesus from being preached. John 16: 2-3, Acts 9: 1-3, 1 John 3: 1, Acts 12: 1-4
These witnesses should strike a very important cord in our spiritual and divine assignment. As we behold the exploits done by them; we must also ask ourselves if we are faithful witnesses to the command and charge of Jesus Christ that He so succinctly commanded us before his ascension into glory. No better honour can we bestow on our Saviour than to excitedly pursue His mission with vigour and conviction. Although the world may hate us like they did the witnesses to the point of celebrating their death and exchanging gifts at the most bizarre occurrence. We must never be deterred. He who endures to the end shall be saved.
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts: 1: 8
Contributor: Paul Thomas
Thursday, June 21 2012
In last week's study titled "The Sixth Trumpet and Second Woe". We looked at the result of the sounding of the sixth trumpet; the release of the four Angels and the unconventional army of horsemen and their strange horses as well as the havoc they wrecked. We also observed that even after all the plagues, the people were still unrepentant.
The preceding chapters of Revelation referred mostly to future occurrences; John hears a trumpet and he is given the opportunity to see into the future. Interestingly, right in the middle of that we encounter chapter 10 and it pulls us from the future; not even to the present but to the past! Howbeit, John's present; because this time, John was in the thick of things.
"And I saw another mighty angel come down from Heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:"
Notice here that John's vision was no longer of activities in heaven; "And I saw another mighty angel come down from Heaven". This angel is "clothed with a cloud" indicating the presence of God, see (Rev 14:14). The "rainbow" speaks of the glory of God. (Ezekiel 1:28). "His face was as it were the sun" symbolizes the authority of the angel. (Genesis 1:16). "And his feet as pillars of fire" alludes to the strength of the angel. Pillars are central and foundational to supporting a structure. (Galatians 2:9).
Verse 2 - 3:
"And he had in his hand a Little Book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the Earth, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, Seven Thunders uttered their voices."
The "OPENED" Little Book would indicate that John could access the information in it (Amos 3:7). The angel had dominion over the sea and Earth. (Psalm 110:1). The lion is associated with kingly, regal power. (Proverbs 19:12). The Seven Thunders uttered their voices, could be likened to be another series of Judgments like those of the Seals, Trumpets, and Vials. (Psalm 29:3-9) talks about the Voice of Jehovah. (Read)
" And when the Seven Thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from Heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the Seven Thunders uttered, and write them not."
John was instructed, like Daniel to not reveal the vision that he had been shown, probably because, like Daniel, the visions were intended for those who lived at the "time of the end" (Daniel 8:26; 12:4, 9).
"And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the Earth lifted up his hand to Heaven, and sware by Him that liveth forever and ever, who created Heaven, and the things that therein are, and the Earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:"
What did the angel mean when he said "there should be time no longer"? He concluded his oath saying (in effect, time up!) No more time for what? Obviously there was no more time for repentance? In the last study, the inhabitants of the earth still had the opportunity to repent but didn't; at this point there was no more time!
"But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the Mystery of God should be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the prophets."
The expression "the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound" refers specifically to the Seventh Trumpet Judgment (Rev.11:15). At the Seventh Trumpet Judgment, the "Mystery of God should be finished". But, what is the Mystery of God?
If I knew, then it wouldn't be a mystery would it?
Ephesians 5:32 talks about this mystery, so does (1Timothy 3:15), (Ephesians 6:19), and (1Corinthians 15:51-53). Sometime between the sounding of the Sixth Trumpet Judgment (Rev 9:9-21) and the Seventh Trumpet Judgment in (Rev.11:15), the Seven Thunders (10:3-4) are revealed. But God in His Sovereignty asked John not to write as well not to reveal it (he couldn't even talk about it) - he was to keep it sealed!
Verses 8 - 9:
"And the voice which I heard from Heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the Little Book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the Earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the Little Book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the Little Book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter."
God instructed John to "take the Little Book which is open", signifying that the Apostle John was being given a private viewing of the Seven Thunders. John was especially set apart for the privilege of fulfilling the words of the Resurrected Saviour. (John 21:22-23).
The angel then explains what would happen to John. "Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey". This is similar to the prophet Ezekiel's experience. (Ezekiel 3:1-3, 14). When John ate the Little Book; it was as the angel said; "sweet as honey" in John's mouth, but it "was bitter" in his belly.
"And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."
Some have said that this promise, "Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings" has already been fulfilled by the spread of the New Testament Scriptures, including the Gospel of John, the Epistles of John, and the Revelation. Certainly, the promise has been fulfilled in some measure. But, the fact that the Apostle John was shown the contents of the Little Book; as well as the utterances of the seven thunders and was told not to reveal them means that he may still at some time appear in God's calendar to "prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."
This chapter will be likened to an interlude; a "little break" away from the woes and the point in time when God shuts the door to repentance. It is also a preparation for the seventh and final trumpet and the third woe. But praise God! We'll be gone by then!
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Tuesday, June 19 2012
We have been working our way through the book of Revelation. In chapter 6, we began a study on the tribulation period. The seven-year tribulation will be the worst period of human history. It will literally be hell on earth.
Last week, when the fifth angel sounded, the "bottomless pit" was unlocked and hell came to meet earth. The angel of the bottomless pit" led locust-like demons which have power "as" scorpions to torment the people on earth without the seal of God on their foreheads. Imagine even death running away from people who wanted to die. Despite these sufferings many did not turn to the living God.
Today we shall look at the result of the sounding of the sixth trumpet.
1) The Release of the Four Angels. Vs 13-15
And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
Vs. 13: at the sound of the sixth Angel, a voice came from the four horns of the golden alter which is before God. This can be in response to the prayers of the saints.
Vs. 14: speak of four angels that are bound at the Euphrates River and then released to kill one-third of mankind. The Euphrates is mentioned twice in Revelation, here and in 16:12.
The entire length is 1,780 miles, and it is by far the longest and most important river of western Asia.
It was where the Garden of Eden was located; it was where the first sin was committed; it was where the first lie was told; it was where the first murder was committed; and it was where the first grave was dug. It was in this region where God saw that the wickedness of man was great and so He sent the flood. It was where men attempted to build a tower that would reach into the heavens, so that God confounded the languages. Nimrod built the tower of Babel. It was this region where ancient Israel's most oppressive enemies came from ?the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Medes, and the Persians.
Vs. 15: These angels were ready for a specific assignment at a specific hour in history. This specificity highlights the preciseness of God's divine plan. His purposes will be accomplished, perfectly and on schedule (Isa 46:9-11). The task of these angels was to put one-third of those who dwell on the earth to death (8:13). This figure accounts for more than the accumulated deaths of all the wars of the 20th century put together. In today's numbers, this accounts for over two billion dead. One-fourth died under the fourth seal judgment (Rev 6:7-8), and many more died as martyrs and for other reasons (Dan 12:1; Matt 24:21-22). However, it is only the earth-dwellers; those in rebellion against God, who suffer death as a result of this woe (Rev 9:20).
2) The Army of Two Hundred Million. Vs 16- 19
And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like to serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt
Vs. 16: The numbers of the army was two hundred millions (200,000,000). This immense host is a number too vast for human conception. The mind gets bewildered in the effort to comprehend such an army which for number surpasses anything ever seen on earth. The unseen chariots of God are similarly numbered (Psa. 68:17)
Verses 17-19: describe the army and its tactics or method of warfare. Quite clearly these are not ordinary horsemen or horses. It can probably be taken as symbolical of modern mechanical warfare. John has never seen tanks or armoured vehicles, so he was given a vision of horsemen, as in his day?yet the vision went beyond his day and portrayed modern warfare. The fire, smoke, and brimstone could refer to any number of devices of modern warfare. Again in verse 18 it is mentioned that one-third of mankind will be killed.
3) Rebelliously Unrepentant Men Vs 20-21
And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
One would think by this time men would be crying out for mercy from God in deep repentance, especially since the world will know that these are judgments from God (6:14-17). But no, by now the rest of mankind has become confirmed in their rebellion and depraved ways through the hardening effect of continued negative volition to God.
Significantly, the things they will refuse to repent of are "the works of their own hands." This demonstrates the extreme humanistic nature of man that has always been evident, but especially in these last days. Men, as we see today, reject the works of God both in creation and in salvation. Man seeks to handle life by what he can do apart from God. But wasn't this precisely the heart and nature of Satan's temptation to Eve in Genesis 3?
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Thursday, June 07 2012
In the last few weeks, the Holy Ghost has been unveiling to us the mystery behind the Seven Seals. We have succinctly examined the Apocalypse of the four horsemen represented as the four Seals, in terms of Conquest, War, Famine and Death. The fifth Seal reveals the cry of Martyrs - slain for the sake of the Word and the testimony they held, the sixth Seal- the cosmic disturbance.
Do you remember these words?
??As believers, we must be conscious that we are sojourners on this earth. There abound signs that Christ's return is imminent and therefore we must holds fast to the confession of our faith not allowing the passing pains and contempt of men becloud our minds in jettisoning our eternal rewards''.
In "God still has remnants" Rev 7: 1-17, we are enjoined "never to compromise our faith and holy living for anything, let us desire greatly to make the rapture".
The seventh Seal represents the seven angels with seven trumpets. Last week, we have examined four angels with the four trumpets blasts and concluded with this stricken message- "It definitely calls for us again to make sure that we make it on the first flight''. Rapture! The glorious expectation of all Saints
Today, by the grace of God we will be examining the last three Trumpets called Woes.
We have established the fact that the Seven Seals is about God's judgment, measured in tribulation. The purpose of this tribulation is to reveal the true nature, identity and character of Satan. When the fifth Angel sounded the trumpet, John saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth. This is not a literal star, but a personality, an angelic being. He was given the key to the Abyss (Bottomless pit); he was in charge and had control over the creatures- the demons in the abyss. He is spoken of as king (vs. 11) with the Hebrew tongue Abaddon, in Greek tongue Apollyon, which means destruction. The abyss, pit of darkness is the eternal abode of fallen angels. In the Scripture angels are called Stars. (Job 38: 7, Isa 14:12, Luke 10:18). God gave Satan the power to open the abyss and release the demons on earth as instrument of God's divine wrath. "The sun and air were darkened because of the smoke of great furnace out of the pit" is a literal and spiritual darkness coming upon the earth.
· Verse 3: The creatures called locusts came out of smoke with the stinging power of scorpions are the picturesque appearance of demonic creatures of the abyss. These are demons with spiritual venom with devastating consequences. Their mission was to inflict torment on human and not vegetation.
· Verse 4: Specific instructions were given to the locusts. They were commanded not to hurt the grass. Locusts are noted to be highly destructive. It is reported that they can travel in columns 100 ft. deep and nearly 4 miles in length devouring all manners of crops. However, it should be noted that this is a judgment to them that refused to accept Christ.
· Verse 5: Specific limitation was given to these locusts by God. They were restrained as to what and who they may attack. The description of the pain they inflicted on their victims equal that of scorpions, agonizing pain but not to death for five months.
· Verse 6: Death becomes elusive; men hurt with these demonic creatures will seek death, but the Scripture says they will not die. This can only be a restraint of God who has authority over all creatures.
· Verse 7: ". . . like unto horses prepared unto battle".
This is a symbolic representation of the locust (demonic creatures) in terms of their preparedness, arrayed in battle. Also "on their heads...were crowns like gold. . ." connotes dominion and rulership.
· Verses 8 -10: All these descriptions portend the ruggedness of these creatures; cruel and merciless. Torment is their sole mission. They are the worst of the demons of Satan.
The mission of the wicked creatures in verses 7-11 was referred to as the first woe. The next two woes are still to come; in other words, the worst is yet to come. The tribulation will unveil the true character of Satan and his evil and nefarious acts; also revealed is the depravity and rebellion of the human heart.
The apocalypse of the horsemen will bring fear to those that do not know God. "It is a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains" says Prophet Joel to them that have not been washed in the blood of the Lamb.
But there is a company of people that did not break their ranks; great and strong. These are the people that will partake in the first flight; this is our hope. So if this is our hope, we have to continue purifying ourselves, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (Read Joel 2:2 & 7; 1John 3:3 & 9).
Remain rapturable. Shalom.
Contributor: Martins Olubiyi
Sunday, June 03 2012
In last week's study, we experienced a pause in the sequence of heavenly events of John's vision. After the breaking of the 6th seal and the wrath that ensued, John saw four angels holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind should blow on the earth or sea or upon any tree and then, suddenly another angel from where to sun rose came shouting "Wait until I've sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads!" And then, every wrath was stalled and we experienced God's divine mercy, heavenly worship of God by the redeemed and the eternal precious promises for the redeemed. Today, we will press the play button; and in considering the verses of this chapter unveil this action packed thriller!
1. Considering verses 1-2
"And when he broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God; and seven trumpets were given to them."
· The seventh seal: Is the last of the seven seals that sealed the scroll no other could open save Jesus. So ever since, it was just the breaking of the seals that brought the disaster in chapter 6; considering the fifth seal, it was a request for the pouring out of the wrath of God; the sixth seal announces the imminent outbreak of the wrath of God. Now the 7th seal was broken and from the verses, the seventh and final seal depicts the actual beginning of God's wrath in the form of seven trumpet judgments.
· The second pointer to consider is the silence in heaven for about half an hour. Every other occurrence in John's vision was not timed but this was. Heaven's non-stop worship stopped! Serious matter! One commentator mentioned and I quote:
"The fact that the silence occurs in heaven is important. Since the creation of the angelic host, the adorers of heaven have continually praised and worshiped the great God of glory. That stops! There is only one event at this point in human history that could possibly render heaven silent - the wrath of God. Restrained since the Flood and promised since Adam, the eschatological wrath of God is about to finally begin. So dramatic is God's wrath that all the eternal activities of heaven "praise and worship of the Magnificent" stop!"
· The third pointer is the seven Angels (who stand before God): All angels at one time or another stand before God for instructions, but these stand continually. It is possible that they have stood in the presence of God since the beginning of creation for this one singular purpose; to announce God's vengeance on the earth and its inhabitants.
2. Considering verses 3-5
"And another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer; and he filled it with the fire of the altar and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake."
· That he might add it to the prayers of all the saints: The purpose of an incense offering was to please God in the hope that He would respond with favor regarding ones request or need. See Genesis 8:21. The adding of incense to the prayers of the saints suggests the final step in gaining God's response. Some have suggested that the prayers referred to here are only the prayers of the living believers on earth at this particular point in time. However, John says "the prayers of all the saints".
So what is this prayer? Seeing that God has been answering our prayers; we can deduce that the only prayers of all the saints unanswered that could be referred to at this point are prayers of vengeance - unanswered down through the ages, (Genesis 4:10, Psalm 79:5, Zechariah 1:12, Rev 6: 10). So now the prayers for God's ultimate judgment against those who persecute the righteous has finally come. (Romans 12:19, Deuteronomy 32:35)
· Peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake: these describe the first evidence of God's wrath about to fall on the earth.
3. Considering verse 6
"And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them."
· The seven trumpets: Amongst many purposes of the trumpet, one is to announce judgment as we see in (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 1 Corinthians 15:52, Matt 24:30-31).
Like the seven seals, the trumpets can be divided into two cycles. Like the first four seals, the first four trumpets are alike in nature. Similarly, the final three trumpets are alike as were the final three seals. As the final three seals dealt with the wrath of God, the final three trumpets will deal with an intensified expression of God's wrath; the three woes (as we will see in the next chapter)
4. Considering verse 7
"And the first sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was burnt up, and a third of the trees were burnt up, and all the green grass was burnt up."
· The earth referred to here is the inhabitable part of the earth's surface (land mass). A third of it, as well as the trees and grass were burnt up.
5. Considering verses 8-9
"And the second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood; and a third of the creatures, which were in the sea and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed."
· A third of the sea became blood: Just as the Nile became blood for Moses, one-third of salt water will turn to blood resulting in the death of a third of the creatures needing oxygen. A third of the ships were destroyed would be as a result of the great mountain burning with fire thrown into the sea.
6. Considering verses 10-11
"And the third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood; and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter."
· A third of the rivers and on the springs of waters: A star called Wormwood polluted a third of the freshwater. Wormwood is a medicinal herb of antiquity used to dispel worms from the intestines. It is very bitter. It did not only make it bitter it must have poisoned it because many men died from the water.
7. Considering verse 12
"And the fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were smitten, so that a third of them might be darkened and the day might not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way."
· A third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were smitten: My understanding of this is the intensity of the sun, moon and stars are reduced by a third, so there will be longer nights than days (due to the limitation of the sun) - "the day might not shine for a third of it" and the nights will experience longer periods of total darkness (due to the limitation of the moon and stars) - "and the night in the same way."
8. Considering verse 13
"And I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe, to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!""
· "Woe, woe, woe, to those who dwell on the earth: That the eagle cried "Woe" three times is symbolic (it means three different woes are on the way!) See Rev 9:12
It would be a terrible time! After all that happened from verse 7; all that was not counted as woe (doom) - almost akin to saying "you haven't seen anything yet!". In Chapter 6: 12-17, the inhabitants of the earth thought they were experiencing God's wrath; little did they know that it was only a prelude to what was to come! The earth, sky and sea that have been attacked; and although many men died as a result of the bitter water, the intended victims of the next trumpets' judgments (coming next) are the earth-dwellers. Even the sealed 144,000 had to go through the Great Tribulation!
It definitely calls for us again to make sure that we make it on the first flight. It will not be a thing of pride to say "I was there live!" even if your hobby is adventure seeking. It however, will be quite a thriller to watch (from heaven, that is) and trust me, it will be in HD 3D!
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Thursday, May 24 2012
Two weeks ago, we were taken through the teaching and lessons from the last two of the six seals in the Book of Revelation Chapter 6. Very apt and simple teaching it was. Amongst many other things, we were reminded of the need for us to make sacrifice for the cause of the Word and the testimony of our faith. The need for us to deny ourselves, make sacrifices and pay a worthy price for what we believe in was reiterated. In closing, we were encouraged not to compromise our bold confession of Christ Jesus and lifestyle of Holiness, and trust fully in His timing of events and judgement.
Today, as we continue in the study of the Book (by the help of the Holy Spirit), we will be looking at some of the attributes of our God especially in the area of His divine mercy even in the midst of judgement as the scriptures say in Romans 9:15. Particular interests will be on what the events in this chapter portrays about our God and what is expected of us as His beloved and redeemed children, including the blessings that awaits us as we trust the Lord in our walk in Him and to make the rapture.
1] GOD'S PRECIOUS REMNANTS - (VERSES 1-8)
After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:5 of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed; 6 of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed;of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed; 7 of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed;
(a) God's Sovereignty over All
"four corners of the earth" speaks of the global sovereign authority and omnipotence of our great God. No matter what is going on around the world at the moment, God is and will always be in control of all the works of His hands (Psalm 104:24)
(b) Seal of Identification, Guaranteed of Redemption
"And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption". [Ephesians 4:30 NLT]
How comforting to know that despite God's ordained judgement over the earth, He has us on His mind and would do anything to protect us from harm. Even in the midst of judgement and suffering, our God still remains merciful. We see His grace even in the midst of trials and tests. Although, the account of John in this chapter appears to be an account of what will happen at post-rapture, however, one thing is certain, God still has remnants that bears and will still bear the seal of the Holy Spirit. The seal is a mark of us being identified as His own and doubles as a guarantee of being saved on the day of redemption. This should serve as a reminder for us that no matter what we are going through or will go through, we can derive comfort and great confidence in God's ever present and ever fresh seal of assurance of His love which preserves us from being harmed!
Also, bible scholars believe that the "one hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel" who were sealed talks about the Jews, from the 12 tribes of ethnic Israel. Jeremiah 30:7 mentioned the descendants of Jacob who will be rescued from trouble. Revelations 14:4 refers to these ones as the first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
2] GOD OF EVERY NATIONS, TRIBES, PEOPLES AND TONGUES - (VERSES 9-17)
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" 11 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:"Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honour and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever.
(a) POSITION OF HONOUR THROUGH PURITY (VERSE 9)
"a great multitude which no one could number, ...... standing before the throne"? Who else can make that happen except our God; all merciful, most gracious. John receives this vision immediately after the vision of verses 1-8. To stand before the throne and before the Lamb signifies a position of great honour.
Just as we were told two weeks ago, there awaits a position of great honour for us if we will hold unto the profession of our faith and refuse to compromise our lifestyle of holiness.
Notice also that these were not just standing; they were all dressed in white robes (signifying purity) and also had palm branches in their hands which signifies victory! (John 12:13). What a combination. A life of Purity guarantees victory at all times.
"Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord". [Hebrews 12:14 NLT]
(b) SALVATION - A GIFT OF GOD (VERSE 10)
They recognize that God is the source of salvation, and no one else. Salvation isn't something we achieve; it is something we receive. Salvation is a gift of God
"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it."[Ephesians 2: 8-9 NLT]
(c) SEVEN FOLD ASCRIPTION OF ADORATION (VERSES 11-12/ REV 5: 12)
We are created for His pleasure, to worship Him in the beauty of Holiness and to praise Him. This is all we will be doing forever, in Heaven. The seven attributes of our God worthy of our praise and adorations are;
i) Blessing: Psalm 145: 1-3. To bless in this context means to salute, praise; to kneel down when preparing to speak words of blessing to God in Heaven, to the King of kings on His throne. We ascribe all blessings to Him.
ii) Glory: John 2:11. The majestic, absolute perfection residing in our God, our Lord and Maker; it also talks about God's visible splendour, honour, power, authority, magnificence etc (Isaiah 60:1). He's worthy of all glory.
iii) Wisdom: 1 Tim 1:17, Jude 1:25. He is the embodiment of wisdom. The only wise God!
iv) Thanksgiving: Psalm 75:1, 107:1, 8, 1 Cor. 15:57; Psalm 92:1, 2 Sam.22:50. Even if we have a thousand tongues, they are not enough to give Him thanks.
v) Honour: To glorify, to make splendid. Speaks of the splendour that belongs to God; this is one of the attributes of God that He has bestowed upon man (Psalm 8:5).
vi) Power & Might: Talks about God's Capacity & Ability; Authority & Right to act; Might & Effective power shown in reigning! 1 Corinthians 1:24
(d) DELIVERED OUT OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION TO SERVE THE LORD FOREVER (VERSES 13-15)
What a change of status. Be it post or pre-rapture, our God is able to deliver. He does not stop there, along with His deliverance comes the privilege of serving Him in the beauty of His holiness Day and Night. This phrase signifies an unending season of worship.
From dungeon to the palace, from bondage to liberty to serve in the place full of His glory! Psalm 30:11.
Also note that these ones have "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." This is a work of His grace and not our qualification! To cap it all, He assures us of His ever abiding presence forever.
(e) TEN ETERNAL BLESSINGS OF THE REDEEMED (VERSES 16-17)
· Will forever be before the Throne of God
· Will serve Him day and Night in His Temple
· God will dwell among them
· They shall not hunger anymore
· They shall not thirst anymore
· The sun shall not strike them
· The heat shall not beat them
· The Lamb of God (Jesus) will be their shepherd
· He will lead us to living fountains of water (direction)
· God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
From the teaching so far in the book of Revelation, we cannot but wonder how beautiful heaven is. Little wonder when people are at the verge of giving up the spirit to go and be with the Lord, their joy always know no bound. Especially, for those who had the privilege of having a glimpse of heaven before departing. Just as we are repeatedly encouraged never to compromise our faith and holy living for anything, let us desire greatly, to make the rapture. I end with the words of Apostle Paul;
"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow?not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below?indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord". [Romans 8: 38-39 NLT]
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Thursday, May 10 2012
In the last few weeks, we have been looking at the ("perhaps") futuristic reports of the book of Revelation. In particular, last week we looked at the first four seals of a six-seals Revelation John had. We considered the different divergent interpretations alluded to these seals (the White, Red, Black and Pale Horses) but rather we focused on the events and were reminded that as believers we should be ready to make the first flight in order to avoid the terrible events that will happen during the great tribulations. Today we will finish up the last two seals by the help of the Holy Spirit and see what we can learn as believers.
Seal # 5 - The Cry of the Martyrs [Verse 9-11]
9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
Slain for the Word sake and the testimony they held - As believers, we must be faithful (to the Word of God and the confession of our faith) until death being aware that there is a better city awaiting us. Matt. 10:28, I Cor. 1:6, Is the testimony of Christ confirmed in you? Do you value your testimony? How much sacrifice can you make for the cause of the Word and the testimony of faith? We don't have to be martyred but we must deny ourselves, we must make sacrifices, pay prices for what we believe in.
Quality of our God - Here is a reflection of the quality of our God (holy and true) again as it has been highlighted since we began this book of Revelation and in the bible. As believers, we must reflect our God in our day to day activities (II Cor. 5:20).
Reward of their action - God does not owe any man! Matt. 19:29
God is a God of Purpose - The Lord comforts His afflicted and persecuted servants. He knows what He is doing and has an appointed time for His action. Therefore, we must always trust in His timing and judgement as He is never late but always right on time.
Seal # 6 - Cosmic Disturbances [Verse 12-17]
12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"
Shaking of the world - These are happenings that signify the end of the earth as abound in the prophecies of the Scriptures (Matt. 24, II Tim. 3). Indeed perilous times!
Nothing is able to save - In these days, with the magnitude of dread and terror, position, status, riches, valour, strength will not be able to support men. In fact men will look for death but it would be too late.
As believers, we must be conscious that we are sojourners on this earth. There abound signs that Christ's return is imminent and therefore we must hold fast to the confession of our faith not allowing the passing pains and contempt of men to becloud our minds in jettisoning our eternal rewards.
Rev. 3:11 - "I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown."
Heb. 10:23 - "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)"
As Christians, we are called to a cause which we must tenaciously hold on to. Our bold confession of Christ and a lifestyle of holiness and truth must not be compromised. Whatever we need to endure to enter into the eternal rest God has prepared for us must be endured. It will be greatly painful to be found on the earth during those terrible days. May we all go with the first flight in Jesus' name (Amen).
Contributor: Akin Akande
Monday, April 30 2012
Last week we looked at the "The Scroll and the Lamb"; a call was made for anyone to take up the scroll and break its seals but there was no one but the Lamb of God! We also saw the amazing continuous worship in heaven by an innumerable host of angels along with the elders and the living creatures. Today we will continue from the Lamb taking the scroll. (It is worthy to note at this point that we have arrived at a stage in the study of the book of Revelations where there is controversy in the interpretation of the strange mysteries in John's vision.) The preceding chapters were somewhat clearer concerning the era involved and "who was who"; but not these next few verses. The interpretation of these few verses have created a divergence amongst scholars of the Bible; however our study of this chapter will mostly be away (though not completely) from this divergence (especially as it relates to whether these visions have already been fulfilled or not and who the visions referred to) but instead we will consider the events as John saw them. In each of these verses, after Jesus breaks a seal, a different horseman appears. In each of these instances, we will consider, first, the horseman himself; secondly, what he was empowered to do and thirdly, what the consequences of his actions were.
Seal #1 - The White Horse (Verses 1 & 2)
"And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer"
There are three symbols in verse 2
(a) The white horse that represents conquest;
(b) A bow is carried by a warrior into battle, and is a symbol of military power and victory. Any time in the old testament that a military power is destroyed, it is said that their bows were destroyed (see Jer. 51:56, Hos. 1:5, Ps. 46:9). But because there are no arrows for the bow, it is therefore indicative that he will conquer by diplomacy and not violence.
(c) The crown indicates victory.
Seal #2 - The Red Horse (Verses 3 & 4)
"And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword."
The second seal revealed a red horse; the rider of this horse had power to take peace from the earth by the great sword given to him which will then lead to people killing one another indiscriminately.
Seal #3 - The Black Horse (Verses 5 & 6)
"And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, a measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine."
The third seal revealed a black horse, whose rider carried a pair of scales in his hand, and a voice was heard saying "A measure of wheat for a penny, three measures of barley for a penny, and see that you don't hurt the oil and the wine."
This black horse represents famine, a natural result of war; the scales indicate that food will be doled out measure by measure.
A penny (the Roman denarius) was considered to be the usual day's wages (see Matt. 20:2); and a measure was one person's daily portion. Ordinarily, a man could purchase 15-20 measures for a penny. However, during this time of famine, a working man could feed only himself, not his family. "and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine" seems to indicate that luxuries for the privileged few would not be affected by this famine, while the price of wheat and barley for the poor would be inflated to ten times its usual cost.
Seal #4 - The Pale Horse (Verses 7 & 8)
"And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."
The fourth seal revealed a pale horse, whose rider was plainly identified as Death, (the natural result of war and famine). Hades (hell, or the grave) travelled behind this horseman, and he was given power to kill by the sword (violence and war), and by famine, disease, and wild animals, a fourth of the world, leading many to believe this is a reference to the Roman emperors who threw Christians to wild animals for entertainment. However, the population of wild animals would increase greatly following any prolonged war, famine, and disease, when people would be dying in much larger numbers than usual. It appears that each of these seals is a natural result of the seal before it, indicating a continual progress, not events all occurring at once.
There a different schools of thought regarding the first four seals and the horses and their riders
1. School of thought #1: Some believe this represents Jesus Christ himself as in Rev 19:11
· But we can very easily dispute that because the Greek word used in verse 2 of this chapter for "crown" is "stephanos" which means a victor's crown, while the word used in Chapter 19 is "diadema", which is a crown of royalty
2. School of thought #2: There are also some that believe that this conqueror on the white horse represents the Roman Empire, the world power under which Jesus began His earthly ministry; the next three horses would then represent things that occurred under their reign. If the first horse and its rider indicates the conquest of the Roman empire, then the others must refer to events during that time, also, such as the empire's 100 year long civil war, (200-300 A.D.), when it lost more than half of its total population, and the persecution of Christians under the Roman emperors, from Nero in 64 A.D. to Diocletian in 305 A.D.
· I will however dispute this belief because the horseman did not have arrows; indicative that he will conquer by diplomacy but the Roman Empire conquered by the violence of war and bloodshed.
3. School of thought #3: Others believe that the first horse and its rider represent the Antichrist. If the first horse and its rider symbolize the Antichrist, then the others must refer to his destructive capabilities and the tribulation that will occur. The antichrist was described in Rev 13:1-10 "And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name ... and the dragon gave him his power, his throne and great authority . . ."
· This is no way matches the description of the rider of the first horse. The antichrist was also empowered by the Dragon and not by God as the rider in verse 2 was.
4. School of thought #4: Yet another theory is that this horse represents the Gospel, its spread and eventual conquest, and the next three horses represent the dire consequences of rejecting the Gospel. If the first horse and its rider represent the conquest of the Gospel, then the next three, (war, famine, and death) represent the bitter consequences of rejecting the Gospel.
· This theory however does not particularly have any scriptural or historical backing. The Gospel of our Lord is a Gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15)
My own thoughts: The horses and riders are Instruments of God's Avenging Judgment. See verse 16: "They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!" The scroll was in God's custody and is also indicative that He was the One who sealed it. I also believe that this judgment will be mete after the rapture; after the saints would have been taken away with Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-9), Emphasis on verse 9: "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."
It will not be of any benefit to us to attempt to prove whether the events that occurred at the breaking of the seals are in the past or in the future or it is ongoing. But we can undoubtedly say that the picture revealed by the breaking of the four seals is a picture similar to that of the tribulation period of the last days the Bible refers to in Matt 24-7, ""For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom [that's happening today]. And there will be famines [happening right now], pestilences, and earthquakes in various places".
There is war, famine, and death in various parts of the world today, as well as Christians suffering persecution. The truth is that this vision speaks to each generation with events they can relate to, either from their own time frame or from a historical perspective, it should therefore serve as a reminder to every believer that we should be ready to make the first flight and avoid the terrible events that will occur during the great tribulation. "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:34-36)
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Thursday, April 19 2012
Last week, we saw what goes on in heaven at the throne room of the Almighty God; Worship. The four living
creatures ceaselessly saying "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was and is to come. The 24 elders,
representing us, responded by falling down on their faces in worship by casting down their crowns saying, You are
worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they
are and were created." Today, our study will focus on the Lamb of God and His eternal place concerning things to come.
"And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon"
Chapter 4 began by focusing our attention upon a throne; chapter 5 begins by drawing our attention to a scroll. In God the Father's right hand John saw a book (a "scroll"). What more profound way of picturing God's ultimate sovereignty over all history could be found than this picture of the scroll resting in His hand? However strong evil becomes, however fierce be the satanic evils that assail God's people on earth, final history still rests in God's hand.
God's "right hand" refers to His authority to translate the contents of this scroll into action. This scroll is the focus of John's attention in this chapter, and it contains the detailed plans and purposes of God for subduing the enemies of Christ and establishing His reign upon the earth. This scroll is so full of words that John could see writing on the inside as well as the outside of the scroll (Ezek 2:10). Writing on both sides indicates the detailed and important nature of the judgments. It also emphasizes their ability to accomplish the purposes of God. The seven seals are suggesting the profound nature of the revelation it contained. It may represent the book of prophecies God instructed Daniel to seal until the end times (Dan 12:4, 9). The perfect number of seals ("seven") may also hint at the absolute sacredness of the scroll. The seals inform us that while this plan has been settled in the eternal counsels of God, it has been concealed and only one, who is duly authorized, may open it to read and execute it. The period of grace and God's long-suffering has now come to an end.
John is mesmerized by God the Father and the scroll in His right hand, and an unnamed, strong angel asks the question of the ages: "Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?" One with sufficient authority and worthiness was necessary to open the scroll and by breaking its seals to unleash the judgments on the world that it contained. Any prophet could have revealed this information but it took someone with adequate power to execute the events foretold, as well as to reveal and bring them to pass. This strong angel goes on a universal search and discovers that no angel, no created being (Phil 2:10), no human being, no creature, no spirit, and no one could open the scroll. This indicated that everyone one of us have documented history with God.
"And one of the elders said to me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, see, in the middle of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the middle of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne"
One of the 24 elders comforted John with the news that Jesus Christ would open the scroll (Luke 7:13; 8:52). He had achieved victory over all God's enemies and therefore had the authority to open the scroll and to release its contents. This is an encouragement to all that are mourning that our King worn the battle over death, Hell and Satan. Our weeping should turn to joy.
The "Lion that is from the tribe of Judah" and the "Root of David" are Old Testament titles of the Messiah who would fulfill the promises of salvation and would rule. The tribe of Judah was the tribe of David from which the kingly line proceeded (Gen 49:9-10). It was this tribe that the promise was given of a Son whose throne and kingdom would endure forever (2 Sam 7:13, 16). The title "the Root of David" means the Messiah would come through the lineage of David as a greater son of David (Luke 1:32-33). He who came after David as the offspring of David was also before him as the root (Rev 22:16). As God's ultimate Anointed One, Jesus alone possessed the authority necessary for this task. He overcame Satan, sin, and death so He could implement God's purposes for the future that this scroll revealed. Only Christ can carry out God's final purposes on earth.
Eagerly, John turns his head to see this "Lion-King". But the apostle is not prepared for what he sees. Expecting to see a kingly Lion, the apostle sees something totally different: John saw "between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth" (5:6). Notice four things in 5:6.
a) First, John sees the Messiah as a "Lamb." The "Lamb" is a symbol of Jesus Christ at His first advent, meek and submissive to a sacrificial death as our substitute (Isa 53:7; John 1:36; 21:15). The Lion is a symbol of Jesus at His second coming, powerful and aggressively judging the world in righteousness (Ps 2). John saw the Lamb, now in the center of all the creatures and elders gathered around the throne, as the central character and most important personage in the entire heavenly scene (Rev 3:21; 4:6; 7:17).
b) Second, the Lamb had been slain. The word "slain" means to cut up and mutilate an animal sacrifice. It speaks of a violent, bloody sacrifice. It describes the gory crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thorns pierced His skull. A whip lacerated His back. Fists bruised His face. Nails gouged His hands. A spear tore His side. Blood and water came gushing out. Christ paid the ultimate price for the salvation of mankind.
c) Third, the Lamb is "standing." This slain Lamb, who was violently slaughtered and put to death, is now actually standing! Having been killed, He is alive again, and He is standing in the innermost circle next to the throne.
d) Fourth, the Lamb is awesome with His seven horns and seven eyes. The number seven represents the fullness of Christ's power in defeating His foes. The horn is a biblical symbol for power and authority.
The seven eyes represent the fullness of Christ's divine wisdom and discernment (Zech 4:10). His eyes are the seven Spirits of God (i.e., the seven manifestations of the Spirit) that communicate to Christ all that transpires (Isa 11:2-4). The Lamb is all-knowing as well as all-powerful. This is one Lamb who can't have the wool pulled over His eyes! There is no more dreadful thought than to have to face the "Lion" in judgment because you have rejected the "Lamb." The purpose of the Lord's first coming was gracious. He came to "seek and to save those who are lost" (Luke 19:10). But the purpose of His second coming is different. Then He comes to deal with His enemies and to fulfill His promises of blessing to His own. We must not reject the grace of God. There comes a time when all men must deal with the "Lion," either as the One for whom we have watched and worked and prayed or the One whom we have rejected.
What we have in Revelation 5 is a vision of Christ (5:1-7) and the expanding, concentric circles of His worship in heaven. First, we see the worship of Jesus Christ in heaven by those immediately around the throne (5:8-10); then we see worship throughout all heaven (5:11-12); finally, we see worship throughout the entire universe (5:13-14). Like a "wave" at a football game, it spreads to all creation.
"And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be to him that sits on the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that lives for ever and ever."
This transfer of the scroll resulted in an outpouring of praise for the Lamb because it signaled that Christ would begin judging (Rev 6-18). While the four living creatures and 24 elders prostrated themselves in worship, they had harps and golden vials. They used the harps to praise God in song (Ps 33:2; 98:5).Throughout the Bible, the harp is an instrument of joy and gladness. In fact, the harp is used in Scripture more than any other instrument to praise God (Ps 71:22). All types of instruments will be used in heaven to worship God. Here on earth, we must do the same (Ps 150:3-6).
John explained that the golden vials contained the prayers of God's people that are as the fragrant aroma of burning incense to Him (Ps 141:2; Luke 1:10). In the Old Testament the offering of incense was a priestly duty (Num 16:6-7) so they were functioning in a priestly capacity.
In 5:9-10, As a result of the Lamb's authority from God to advance God's plan of the ages, the living creatures and elders sang a "new song" (Rev 14:3). This song represents new praise for deliverance about to take place. In this song the Lamb receives honor as being worthy in view of four things. The first is His death. He was "slain."
The second reason the Lamb is worthy is because He "purchased" (redemption) for God, by His death, people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. This represents divisions of humanity based on lineage, language, race, and political orientation. Together these terms describe the universal nature of Christ's people. It is important to note that this, however, does not teach universalism. Every person will not ultimately be saved. But people "from" every people group will be in heaven. How will people from groups that never heard the Gospel be in heaven? First, Jesus said that the Gospel will be preached to the entire world by the end of the age (Matt 24:14). This includes all people groups who will eventually be reached for Christ (Rev 14:2-3; 15:2-4). This assurance should motivate us as a church and as individuals to fulfill our responsibility for world evangelization.
Third, the death of Christ not only saved men, it also made them priests and kings so that they would share in His kingdom (1 Pet 2:5, 9). Priesthood involves immediate access into God's presence for praise and worship as well as the privilege of priestly service.
The fourth is the blessing of His people by allowing them to rule on the earth (during the millennium). This is man's ultimate end; he will worship God by fulfilling God's ordained responsibilities on a new earth, for all eternity.
The company of worshippers expands to include all the angels of heaven. A second choir of worshippers joins now with the first choir and all heaven breaks loose! In 5:11-12. An innumerable host of angels now joins the four creatures and 24 elders in ascribing worth to the Lamb (Dan 7:10; Ps 68:17-18; Matt 2:13). The Greek word for "myriad" (miros) means 10,000."Myriad of myriad" would mean 10,000 times 10,000. That's 100 million! But this is in the plural?"myriads of myriads"?meaning hundreds of millions times hundreds of millions. The number is easily in the billions. But then John records that there are still "thousands of thousands" in addition to the billions. One thousand times one thousand is one million. But again, this is in the plural ("thousands of thousands"). So there are multiplied millions spilling over the billions of worshippers already counted. This staggering number exceeds the limits of human language and our ability to comprehend. Multiplied billions are in this heavenly choir worshipping in heaven. We should all look forward to joining this heavenly choir.
In 5:12, the angels use seven expressions (the perfect number is probably significant) to indicate the wonder of the Lamb.
(1) He is worthy to "receive power." Power (dunamis) is mentioned first perhaps because the immediate situation calls for the need of great power to accomplish His purposes in the earth. He alone, as the perfect God-man Savior, is worthy of such power for He alone will and can use it with perfect justice and equity (Isa 11).
(2) "And riches" (ploutos) refers to the wealth of the universe. All this is His by creation and now by redemption and reclamation.
(3) "And wisdom" (sophia) refers to the Lord's omniscience and its wise use in carrying out the purposes of God in the world.
(4) "And might" (ischuos) refers to working might or power in action and stresses His omnipotence to carry out God's will.
(5) "And honor" (time) refers to the esteem, the value and respect which is due to Christ because of who He is and what He has and will accomplish to the glory of God, and the benefit of the world. He deserves public distinction.
(6) "And glory" (doxa) refers to the tribute and public display of adoration that should accrue to Christ, and again this stems from His person and work, both past, present, and future.
(7) "And blessing" (eulogia) refers to the praise that should be given to the Lord because of His wonderful acts of redemption and reclamation.
Our passage closes with universal praise to the Father and the Son (5:13-14). John writes,
"And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ?To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.' And the four living creatures kept saying, ?Amen.' And the elders fell down and worshiped."
In this vision John "heard" "every created thing" giving praise to God and to the Lamb. The crescendo to this symphony of praise is all creation, everywhere and everything worships the Father and the Son. The stones, the birds, the animals, and the fish finally cry out?all creation had been groaning under the futility of the curse, now they know that they are about to be set free (Rom 8:18-23).
In Revelation 4 and 5, the sequence of praise shows that the first two are addressed to God, the next two, to the Lamb, and the last one to both. It is God who is praised as the Creator, in Revelation 4 (4:11). It is the Son who is praised in Revelation 5, as the Reconciler of creation (Col 1:20). Thus, every living creature praises both Father and Son. God the Father and God the Son are both equally to be worshipped forever and ever. One of the weaknesses today is that many people want to worship "God" but they don't want to worship Jesus. Yet, the Father has said that there is no life apart from Jesus (John 3:35-36).
My prayer today is that all of us will be at the throne room to be with the Father and His Son forever and ever.
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Wednesday, April 11 2012
We have been studying the book of Revelation, and today we will look at chapter 4.
As we go further in our study to understand and know how the chapter before us today fits into the whole book.
Rev 1:19 provides us with a simple outline of Revelation: "Therefore, write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things."
In 1:12-18. You will find "The things you have seen" gives us an insight to the vision of the glorified Jesus "The things that are" refers to the seven letters that are found in Rev Chapters 2 and 3.
". . . The things which shall take place after these things"
Refers to the visions of the rest of the book of revelation
In other words, Revelations Chapters 4-22 is a prophecy of future events, yet unseen, things that are to come etc.
It will also help us to determine the following:
· The One sitting on the throne.
· What surrounded the throne?
· The twenty-four elders attired
· What was before the throne?
· Who are the Four Living Creatures?
· What were the four living creatures doing and what happened when they did it?
John writes in
"Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne."
As soon as John heard this invitation he experienced a spiritual transference. His body remained on the earth, but he caught a glimpse of glory. He saw a throne "standing in heaven." The throne symbolizes the sovereign authority to rule. The word "throne" is mentioned 14 times in this one chapter. Yet, it is only used a total of 14 times in the other 26 books of the New Testament. That is why this chapter is usually referred to as; "the throne chapter of the Bible."
Looking into heaven, John records what he saw "One sitting on the throne". The person on the throne was God the Father. John actually saw God sitting upon His throne! Can you imagine anything more glorious? The word "sitting" describes the position of a king who is actively reigning. For example, if a politician is "seated," he is said to be in office. If an unelected official is put out of office, he is said to be "unseated." John sees God "seated," meaning He is actively exercising the duties of His executive office, administering over the affairs of His creation.
So these stones are used to portray something of God's eternal glory, awesome holiness, and majesty. "Jasper" was a clear, crystal-like gem, a translucent rock. The jasper gem that John saw was evidently a diamond, not what we identify as jasper today. It portrays the purity and brilliance of God's holiness.
Since such a stone picks up and reflects light, it calls our attention to the fact that God is light, a holy God who reveals and unmasks darkness. A "sardius" stone was blood red, undoubtedly portraying God's wrath and justice, but it would also look at His redemptive work of love and grace in the person of the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world through His death on the cross
The 24 elders don't appear anywhere else in the Scriptures. The identity of the 24 elders (presbuteros) is difficult to determine. Yet I believe these elders are men. Jesus told the church at Laodicea, in chapters 2 and 3, that whoever will overcome will sit down with Me in glory. Here are some people sitting. He told the church in Thyatira, whoever was faithful would rule with Him, with a rod of iron. Here are some people with crowns who are sitting on thrones. He told the church at Sardis that if they would be faithful He would clothe them in white. Here are some people clothed in white. He told the church at Smyrna, he who overcomes, I will grant to him a crown (stephanos), and here are some people wearing crowns.
In Mark Gospel chapter 10:35-45, John and his brother James were struggling who would be on the throne with Jesus. But in this scripture we see 24. These thrones referred to here are arranged in a circular form, around the throne. There is no mention of "first or second chair" as James and John were hoping if Jesus allowed them or grant them their wishes.
My Probable interpretation is the 24 thrones as 24 seats of authority given to the faithful.
These thrones are seated "elders" representing Gentile believers. The point here is not who these "elders" are by name, but what they are doing?falling on their faces before God in worship (4:10-11)
The "seven lamps of fire" are said to be the "seven spirits of God." These spirits symbolizes the sevenfold ministry of the Holy Spirit reference In Isa 11:2-3
The "lamps" signify the unique role of the Holy Spirit in executing judgment. The Spirit will carry out this judgment.
John describes these four living creatures:
"The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle."
These four characterizations are the same as those in Ezekiel 1:10 but it is difficult to decipher their meaning. Again, the word "like" expresses similarity. The four creatures likely represent four classes of created beings: wild beasts, domesticated animals, human beings, and flying creatures.
John then writes in that these four living creatures have "six wings are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, ?HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.' "
These creatures seem similar to the seraphim (lit burning ones) of Isaiah 6:2-3, in that they each have six wings. Their many eyes suggest alertness, comprehensive knowledge, and constant vigilance "Around and within" probably mean that they had eyes even on the undersides of their wings so they could move their wings without interrupting their vision. Their movements did not detract their constant vigilance. They ascribe holiness to God day and night, constantly without stopping. There will be no need for rest in heaven!
This verse reveals several aspects of God's character that are adored. First, He is worshipped as the Holy One.
God is holy in two ways:
· He is separated from all that He created and is not to be identified with the physical and material universe;
· He is also separate from sin. The holiness of God emphasizes both His transcendence as well as His moral purity.
Holiness, in this verse, refers to God's attribute of absolute moral purity, but it also seems to mean more. The phrase ("Holy, Holy, Holy") in verse 8, is reminiscent of the words of the seraphim in Isaiah 6:3, thereby suggesting the same God whom Isaiah envisioned as the holy One
John brings his vision to a climax as he writes
"And when the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, and the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ?Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honour and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.'"
The four living creatures give praise to eternal God. The focus of their worship is on God's purity, His power, and His pre-eminence. Giving "glory and honour" calls attention to the perfections of God. While giving "thanks" calls attention to the manifold gifts of God in creation and redemption
From Suffering to Glory
Paul was writing In Romans 8: 18 not as a novice but as someone who has seen God in suffering and in His Glory;
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
Knowing angels worship God should prompt our worship also. Do we have any cause not to praise Him or thank Him? Like these four living creatures, we give God honour and reverence, not for His sake (because He is of Himself full of glory to which no creature can add anything), but for our own sake.
Contributor: Clem Roberts
Wednesday, April 11 2012
Rev 3:14-21 "The Church in Laodicea-: Score card of a spiritually declining church and the charge for urgent spiritual awakening"
Not only have we made substantial inroad into the Book of Revelation but we have also by the help of the Spirit deciphered not only the physical or geographical location that these churches once occupied; but how sometimes these locations weighed negatively on the spiritual exploration of these churches, (Pergamum located where Satan's seat is). We have also looked at how their inclination or disinclination to their location has helped us in gauging their spiritual temperature through the spiritual appraisal of each church's performance by Jesus Christ Himself.
We see firsthand beyond the facade that each church portrays either in its acclamation of what she believes in or in the name by which it is called or whatever paraphernalia exists within the precinct of its existence; that there are serious underground spiritual meanings of each and every church under heaven.
What do the churches represent and their relevance to us?
These churches are a representation of the spiritual state of a church, a people, an individual or a nation. The letters to the churches could arguably be described as not just being addressed to the leaders of the churches but to every single person who carries the appellation "Christian".
These letters represent a compilation of every act, the measurement of such acts in the scale of God's judgment and the commensurate reward that follows every act, thought, motive and intention.
These churches remind us of the antagonism and contention that every Christian must confront and contend with so as to end triumphantly. 2Cor:10: 3-5, Ephesians: 6: 10-18, 1Peter: 5: 8-10,
Through these churches we are guaranteed of Jesus' help and protection in the face of these battles; Matt: 28: 20, Heb. 13: 5,
We understand through Jesus' appraisal of the churches that our trials in life are determined by our capacity to bear them. Rev: 2: 24, 1Cor: 10: 13.
We also understand that there are rewards for every single act we undertake for the name of our Saviour. Rev: 2: 19, 23, Romans: 2:13, 16.
We also see that the physical state of a church does not necessarily connote her spiritual state. A physically vibrant church might be seriously spiritually anaemic, whereas a physically struggling church might be a spiritually dynamic church Rev: 2: 9, 16
Jesus emboldens His church to stay true to the high calling and maintaining constant vigilance over satanic infiltration into the fold. Rev: 2: 9, 2 Pet: 2:9-15, 2: 14.
Jesus emphasises the operation of a parallel group operating right within the church; those who are of the synagogue of Satan and those who bear true allegiance to Christ. The church in the Book of Revelation epitomises the reality of a collection of people with different agenda. Jebezel in the church in Thyatira, those with the doctrine of Balaam in Pergamos, to those that follow the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.
Jesus accentuates the various dimensions of rewards accessible to every believer that runs the race to completion; access to the hidden manna, access to the tree of life, salvation from second death.
These churches reveal the many sided and multifaceted nature of Jesus Christ and His operation to the church- He that holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, the First and the Last, which was dead and is alive, He which hath the sharp sword with two edges, etc.
Synopsis of the account on the church in Philadelphia
The last facilitator inferred that the church in Philadelphia had all positive feedback from Jesus; he opined that the church must have occupied a very strategic place in the heart of Jesus. He stresses his argument further by alluding to the promises Jesus made to the church; he divided these promises into two parts the earthly blessings and the eternal blessings.
He accentuated the weakness of the church and that despite their weaknesses they strove to please the master. "Their weakness was no excuse for them to do nothing" he reasoned.
He concluded by praying that "we would, in all we do make Jesus proud (by holding on to the truth and not deny him when times are rough) to the point where He will treat us like the church in Philadelphia and even better!"
Jesus graciously assesses the Laodicea church with the intention of bringing them up-to-date with their performance on the scale of spiritual measurement. One very formidable attribute of an effective leader is the ability to accurately diagnose the problem and skilfully proffer solution or emplace remedial steps towards lasting success.
Jesus assesses the Laodicea church purely on the level of their performance vis-a-vis His expectation for the church; He did not measure their performance against those of other churches; albeit all of the churches operated within the same geographical location. He measures each individual against their alignment with His will for their lives and not in accordance to the expectation or opinion of others. 2 Cor: 10: 12-15
Jesus addresses the state of each church at a time when lapses can be identified and remedial action put in place so as to ensure a realignment of the original mandate. Jesus chastens us, rebukes and chides us because He takes pleasure in our prosperity. We are not left to our own devices and afterwards punished for failing without prior warnings and checks.
Geographical location of Laodicea
An ancient city of western Asia Minor in present-day western Turkey. Built by the Seleucids in the third century bc, it was a prosperous Roman market town on the trade route from the East and an early centre of Christianity.
The location of this church and the enormity of her wealth which came as a result of trade were perhaps responsible for the assumptions asserted by the Laodicea church. They must have concluded that their physical prosperity could not have been possible without a progressive and dynamic spiritual life. 3John: 2, Psalm: 35: 27, 1Tim: 6: 5. Sometimes we assume just as did the Laodicea church that our physical prosperity is a plausible yardstick for our spiritual wellbeing; this might not always be so. Sometimes our material acquisition might not have a farthing to do with our spiritual mileage. As a matter of fact they might be poles apart. Luke: 16: 19-31. Brethren, I believe that we need constant spiritual check-ups to avoid the trap of spiritual slumber.
Lobotomy of Revelation: 3: 14-21
Verse 14: Jesus tells John to write to the angel of the church; whether John writes to an angel or to the leadership; one incontrovertible reality is that the message is to the church in Laodicea and if it is to the church it is for everybody. The message is intended for an ecclesia (church).
The Amen: the literal meaning is "so shall it be": a spiritual acknowledgement of the finished work of Christ. Each time Amen is uttered we affirm Christ completion of all things that pertains to life and godliness. Amen, is an utterance of faith denoting the accomplishment of our desires.
The Faithful: a dependable ally in the midst of life's challenges; a very present help in time of trouble. The Faithful-the One who promises and never fails the reliable provider, protector and the blessed assurance; Isaiah: 43: 1-4, 2Tim: 2:13, 1Cor:1:9, 2Thess 3:3
True witness: the umpire in every of life's situation, the One who is witness to all things and records accurately every man's act, deed or motive. Never biased, never partial, never one sided. Isaiah: 3: 13. No man may see you but he witnesses every act of man and will stand as a faithful witness to everyone unjustly accused for He sees all things. Jesus is a witness to all that is godly and possible; a witness to the triumphant life in God; a witness to God's power in earthen vessels.
Verse 15: A state of constant fluctuation instability and fugacity (always at a temporal state of faith) Our fervour is determined by our mood, emotions and state of activity. God is faithful when we have a new job and where is God when there is no job? One day God is the only source and the next seek alternative means of help. One day our believe system is steadfast the next it is shaky. James: 1: 6-8, Matt: 14: 28-30. Jesus attested to Elijah's assertion on Carmel: 1Kings: 18: 21. 1Timothy:1: 19-20.
Verse 16: Lukewarm refers to a state of mediocrity; a place where one does not want to rock the boat. A blasé state of mind and attitude; a place of no disparate line of decision or action; idiomatically expressed as sitting on the fence. The ultimate consequence of instability is complete loss. When you go about chasing many things there is a possibility of losing everything. Luke: 10: 42. Psalm: 48: 14, John: 6: 68-69.
Verse 17: they not only display their affluence but they also flaunt it by their proclamation. they weighed their material prosperity and concluded that their spiritual life was okay or perhaps they assumed that their wealth substituted for any spiritual deficiency they might lack; after all why exercise faith for healing when you can pay the physician to make you well. Why fast when you have material wealth at your disposal. They adjudged themselves as a physically buoyant church and as such not in need of any spiritual pep talk to ginger them into spiritual fervidity. The Laodicean church reminds one of a termite infested tree, whose trunk appears healthy but on a closer look it is a hollow, weak, termite infested and internally dead tree.
This church is in need of an urgent spiritual surgery before it collapses and dies. It is hanging on by the skin of its teeth and yet assumes that all is well. This church is in dire need of spiritual resuscitation, because its appraisal of itself is far from the actual state when juxtaposed with the master's appraisal.
Verse 18: Jesus admonishes them to take His instruction; He appeals to their sense of judgment rather than compelling them to obey Him. God realises are liberty to make choices and so never imposes His will upon us. Deut 30:19-20. In the kingdom of God, our choices play a very prominent role in deciding what route to travel. Everything in the kingdom is a choice. Jesus pleads with the Laodicean church to allow themselves go through the process of spiritual purification: Mal: 3: 2-4.
To buy Gold tried in fire is to buy that which can never perish, for when everyman's work is tried by fire only that which is pure will survive. Jesus admonishes them to buy readymade gold that has gone through the process of trial and affliction; whose impurities and filth has been purged. 1Cor3: 13-15, 2Tim: 2: 19-21. Anointing the eye with salve requires clarity of inner spiritual sight so as to properly decipher your spiritual state per time and see as you ought to see.
Verse 19: Jesus' admonition cascades into a more generic assertion: Jesus calms the Laodicean church by assuaging His initial critical analyses of their state; to this end by making them see that His criticism of them was not because He did not love them but that His love was the reason for His chastening and rebuke. Prov. 3: 11-12, Heb: 12: 5-11, Titus: 2: 14. Be proactive for God and repent.
Verse 20: Jesus further ensconces the power of our will in determining and channelling our destiny. The almighty did not barge into our lives but He stands at the door and knocks and His knock can be ignored and He still will not usurp our space or authority to choose. All of the provisions of salvation always carry the preposition "if" Deut 28: 1, John: 7: 37-39. He stands and knocks and if we open He comes in, if not He stands still always knocking. In whatever way He's knocking I pray you will open unto Him. If we open He sups with us and we sup with Him. Adrian Rogers said "if He sups with us (our resources, we will also sup with Him, His resources).
Verse 21: Jesus concludes His pedantically laced charge with a promise of a far greater prospect than all of the present wealth that the Laodicean church exhibits. He promises a throne next to Him if we give heed to what He says. Moses saw a better prospect with God than staying as a prince in Egypt; he chose to suffer affliction than enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season. Heb: 11: 25-26. Thrones, crowns, domains, kingdoms, territories and wealth all come when we have overcome the obstacles and temptations that come our way.
Jesus implores them to stay the course and maintain the verve of spiritual jingoism so as to overcome the in the same way that He also overcame. He leaves them with the message of hope by telling them that He overcame because He stayed the course and kept the faith. Jesus alludes to His positional achievement to His steadfastness and commitment to what matters beyond this realm.
All of the churches got some sort of kudos for some level of achievement but not the church in Laodicea. There was not a single acknowledgment to any work that could be credited to their account; yet this same church in Laodicea that Paul oversaw was a spiritually vibrant church at the outset. Mighty things and great brethren emerged from that church; at the start it was a spiritually dynamic church with all her embers burning for the Lord, her love for the Spirit was so intense that Apostle Paul had to pray a for deeper spiritual understanding; Col: 1: 8-10. Perhaps their unbridled access to materialism with the incursion of mixed multitude the church in Laodicea began to shift her gaze from the spiritual to the material which ultimately led to their spiritual dearth. I pray that our zeal for that which matters will not be extirpated.
Contributor: Paul Thomas
Tuesday, April 03 2012
Last week we looked at the Church in Sardis - a sad story it was indeed; a church referred to as a living dead church. Although Jesus addressed the church in Sardis as a dead church, all hope was not lost; Jesus saw the glow of embers among the ashes and exhorted the believers in Sardis to fan the flame with renewed commitment to Him. " . . a smoking flax shall he not quench" Matthew 12:20b.
Today we will look at the sixth of the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation, Philadelphia. Like the Smyrna church it received absolute praise. Reading through these verses, you could just sense the admiration Jesus had for this church; the love that surged from Him would just "knot" your stomach and His promises would certainly warm your heart.
Philadelphia - The City and the goings on [Verse 7]
7 "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open."
The city of Philadelphia was geographically placed directly over a seismic fault and was shaken by repeated Earthquakes for 20 years following the 17 AD Earthquake. Also, by virtue of its location Philadelphia guarded an important pass through the mountains between the Hermus and Meander River valleys. It held the key to the door through which all east-west trade and commerce passed. (It was a gateway city). It was also the claim by the Jews of Philadelphia that they were the "true" people of God who held the key to the Kingdom of God.
So Jesus introduces Himself as the One who is holy and true to the church in a city sitting on a seismic fault and those who believed they were the "true" people of God and then introduces Himself to those who thought they held the key to the Kingdom of God as the One "who holds the key of David" and what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open"
The church in Philadelphia in comparison with the other churches would in my opinion be in first place among the seven churches. Why? Only two churches received commendation without rebuke; Smyrna and Philadelphia but while the Smyrna church was told to prepare for more hardship (Rev 2:10), the Philadelphia church was offered shielding by Jesus Himself as well as rewards as we will see in the next few verses. They certainly must have won His admiration. The reasons are listed below:
1. The Reward #1 [Here On Earth] - The Open Door [Verse 8a]
8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.
Jews were exempt from participation in the emperor worship cult, but the Jewish Christians, had been denounced by some Jews in Philadelphia before Roman officials that they were not "true" Jews and were excluded from the Jewish community and synagogues, so they did not enjoy the same legal protection and therefore were persecuted to indulge in participation in the emperor worship cult .
John 9:22 says: "For already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue"
So, in the midst of all these, Jesus sends words of encouragement to this church: "I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut"
In effect He was saying: "Forget about the doors that have been shut against you. They have shut you out of their communities and synagogues; but . . "See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut!".
A door that due to the location of the city gave the church the wonderful opportunity to spread the Gospel message throughout the country and beyond.
· The Reason For The Reward - Keeping the Word even when times were rough [Verse 8b]
"I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name." [Emphasis mine]
O that we will hold on and make Jesus proud. He was as proud of the church as God was of Him! [Matthew 22:44, Psalm 110:1]. "'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet."] NIV. So He tells them in verse 9.
2. The Reward #2 [Here On Earth] - Divine Vindication [Verse 9]
" I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars?I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you."
I will make them pay for what they have done to you! He was saying. Jesus was aware of how the Jews capitalized on the weakness of the Philadelphia church. "I know that you have little strength . . " Jesus said. He was touched by the fact that although they were weak, they held on! We truly have a High Priest who is touched by the feelings of our infirmity. Heb.4:15 In this case, He was not only touched, He reacted.
Have we observed that we warm up towards the fragile? Especially the fragile that are making an attempt?
We should therefore be encouraged that no matter how weak we are, how despised or oppressed; if we will hold on, He will stand up for us! But we should be warned not to take advantage of the weak among us because He will fight on their behalf.
3. The Reward #3 [Here On Earth] - Divine Protection [Verse 10]
10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
· The Reason For The Reward - Keeping the Word patiently
At this point you could almost sense Jesus continuing His open show of love and admiration for this church; He pronounces another reward for the same reason; two rewards for the same reason! So they will " . . . acknowledge that I have loved you." In verse 10b He says: " I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth."
In Chapter 2:10 He told the Smyrna church to prepare for persecution but here He was going to protect the Philadelphia church from persecution! Obviously Jesus had a soft spot for this church. His heart warmed towards them. Why? Although they were weak (fragile) they held on! They kept His commandments.
4. The Reward #4 [Heaven] - Divine Exposition; a heavenly assurance [Verse 11]
11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
And from nowhere He reveals this; "I am coming soon"; there is a crown for you but here is what you need to do to no one will take your crown. "Hold on to what you have"
Jesus was, in effect saying: "I will not let you lose your crown after all you have done here on earth so I will reveal to you how to ensure you get your crown"
5. The Reward #5 [Heaven] - Eternal Life and Eternal Rewards [Verse 12-13]
12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. 13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
You could just almost say "how sweet" in a cute way. The one who is victorious Jesus says He will make them pillars in the temple of God (a physical pillar is a permanent and prominent part of a physical temple). Jesus once again relates this promise to the situations around the church in Philadelphia. They lived in this atmosphere of insecurity, instability and uncertainty so Jesus promised them the reverse of their situations. They were disregarded, secluded and unknown; so He promises "The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God", "Never again will they leave it,", I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem"
The church in Philadelphia no doubt won the admiration of Jesus; we have seen how He stood up for them because they did not create an excuse for compromise. They held on although their strength was small. Jesus did not only commend them but He rewarded them; first on earth and then the promises of eternity. I pray that we would, in all we do make Jesus proud (by holding on to the truth and not deny him when times are rough) to the point where He will treat us like the church in Philadelphia and even better!
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Tuesday, April 03 2012
Last week, the Church in Thyatira was the focus of the Lord in Rev 2:18-29. This was a Church with much commendation from the Lord because of their love, Faith, Service and Perseverance. Despite these, Jezebel' one of the leaders in this Church misled many into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols and by her teaching. The Lord pronounced judgment against her and encouraged the remnant to hold on to the end.
Today, we shall look at the message of the Lord to the Church in Sardis. The situation of this Church is really sad.
Sardis - A city of wealth
This city is about 40 miles east of Smyrna, the ancient capital of Lydia. Seven hundred years before this letter was written, Sardis was one of the greatest cities in the world. It was wealthy with a river full of gold. The king, Cresus was the richest King around that time. The wealth of this city made the inhabitants lazy so, they preferred to enjoy themselves. The Church in this city was strong but a time came when they became like the people around them. They became Lazy, prayerless and eventualy, a living dead Church.
Many of our churches are dead! Their sanctuary is a morgue with a steeple. They are congregations of corpses. They have undertakers for ushers, embalmers for elders, morticians for ministers, and the pastor graduated from the cemetery. Such churches lost vital signs years ago. Can anything be done about a dead church? How can a dead church be revived? How can we prevent our churches from dying? Jesus will answer these questions and more.
Jesus describes Himself as the One who "has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars." The word "has" (echon) conveys both ownership and control. Jesus holds or possesses the seven spirits and stars. The number "seven" is the number for perfection or fullness. This does not mean that there are seven Holy Spirits. There is only one Spirit of God. "The seven spirits of God" represent the fullness of the Holy Spirit in His seven manifestations to the seven churches (Rev 1:7, Isa 11:2-5; Zech 4:2, 10). It is through the Spirit that God brings revival to His church. This means that revival comes only by God's choosing, not by man's doing. This principle is recorded for us in Zechariah 4:6, "?Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts."
Jesus also has "the seven stars." This speaks of His sovereign control of the angelic realm (Rev 1:20). Through the angel responsible for each church, Jesus protects and controls His churches. The church in Sardis needs to be reminded of their spiritual resources. Not only do they have the full measure of the Holy Spirit; they have angels watching over each church. These angels are held in the palm of Jesus' hand.
With each of the previous four churches, Jesus begins with a word of commendation. But when Jesus speaks to the church in Sardis, He starts with a word of condemnation. He does so because a dead church is deadly to the cause of Christ. Ironically, Jesus' condemnation focused upon that which the church felt was their strength?her name. Jesus' knowledge about the church in Sardis pertained to their deeds, which were woefully inadequate. They had a name (might be very popular in the community), but that was it. From God's perspective, they were as good as "dead." It is important to recognize that the church in Sardis doesn't appear dead. This church has a reputation for being alive. People are impressed. This church's deadness is not man's evaluation but God's.
So why did Jesus consider this church dead. "Dead" could be equated with lacking spiritual life. Apparently, the church had probably begun not only to read but to believe their own press clippings. Such acclaim could have deadened their sensitivity to the spiritual warfare in which they were engaged. The result would have been to sense little need for prayer, little reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit, and great confidence in human wisdom, human effort, and human programs. While their doctrine had not changed, their dependence upon God had greatly diminished.
This is a warning. A church is in danger of death: when it begins to worship its own past or history, its reputation or name, or the names in the church, when it is more concerned with forms than with function and life, when it is more concerned with numbers than with the spiritual quality of life it is producing in its people, when it is more involved with management than with ministry or with the physical over the spiritual. Interestingly, most churches do not die in one fell swoop. They die gradually. Almost all liberal churches today started as evangelical churches. Churches die by degree. This truth is also relevant to every individual Christian.
In life, identifying the problem is the first step toward solving it. The problem with the church in Sardis was that she was dead. But as hopeless as that sounds, all was not lost. Jesus saw the glow of embers among the ashes and exhorted the believers in Sardis to fan the flame with renewed commitment to Him. How could they do this? What steps were they to take? Christ gave them five directives that, if obeyed, would burn new life into their church.
If the church in Sardis ignores these five commands, Jesus will deal with them. "Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you." Our Lord Jesus is patient with our apathy and indifference. Yet even the Lord has limits. If they refused to repent, Jesus promised to come to the church as a thief. Jesus will come unexpectedly and that means judgment.
Jesus gives a commendation after the condemnation in this letter. He commends a few spiritual giants that did not soil their garments. The worthiness here is linked to the fact that these were believers "who have not soiled [defiled] their garments." This is a figurative way of saying that there were a few who had not walked in disobedience (Rev 22:14; Jas 1:27; Jude 23). Walking with Christ in white garments refers to a practical righteousness not a positional righteousness. This must be seen as a reward.
Salvation is a gift given through faith in the finished work of Christ. It is based on His worthiness and record, not ours (Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7). We are only worthy to enter God's kingdom because we have trusted in the worthy One. Nevertheless, Jesus still exhorts us to, "walk in a manner worthy of our calling" (Eph 4:1).
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Friday, March 23 2012
Last week, we focused on the message of the Lord to the Church in Pergamos. We also discovered that the Church was located in a City where Satan had his throne yet they remained loyal to the Lord even unto death.Despite their great sacrifices, the Lord called this Church a compromising Church. I pray that every one of us will take correction from the Lord through these studies in Jesus' name. Today, we shall look at the message of the Lord to the Church in Thyatira.
Thyatira - the City
During Apostle Paul's lifetime, there existed a nondescript city called Thyatira (Act 16:14). Located within the modern-day city of Akhisar, Turkey, about 50 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. It was one of the many smaller cities that sprang up in Asia Minor after Alexander the Great destroyed the Persian Empire. In 190 BC, Thyatira fell to the Romans and finally gave itself completely to the Roman Empire in 133 BC. During this time, it became a communication center due to its location.
The letter to the church in Thyatira is the longest of the seven letters. It may have been the lengthiest letter because Thyatira was the most corrupt of the churches. The title, "Son of God" declares Christ's absolute deity. He is equal with God the Father. He is the eternally existent One who has been designated to rule. Jesus then refers to His eyes and His feet (head to toes). He says His eyes are like a "flame of fire," indicating that He is able to see into the secret places of our hearts. The word "fire" also suggests discerning and severe judgment ( Rev 1:14). Everything yields to fire. Fire consumes all that it touches. Nothing escapes. Jesus moves from his head to his toes and says that His feet are like "burnished bronze," meaning that He will pursue evil and stamp it out.
These are the strongest words of commendation given to any of the churches. But before He confronted her weakness He affirmed her strengths. First affirm the positive and then rebuke the negative, this is the Kingdom style. Jesus begins His commendation with the phrase "I know your deeds" (Rev 2:2; 3:1, 8). He then affirms the church in four ways.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with ten being the highest), how would you evaluate yourself in the areas of love, faith, service, and perseverance?
After giving out four straight A+ grades, Jesus includes a progress report that reads: "your deeds of late are greater than at first." The church had been growing in her strengths. However, some of us need to recognize that God is not asking us to take on more works for Him. Instead, He is calling us to do the works that we are currently doing, with greater excellence.
Unfortunately, the church at Thyatira was not an honour roll church. In fact, Jesus is about to flunk a number of people in this church.
Jesus begins His scathing rebuke with the familiar words, "But I have this against you." Jesus spoke these very same words to the church in Ephesus (.Rev 2:4). Ephesus was strong in doctrine but weak in love. Thyatira was strong in love but weak in doctrine. It's common for churches to be polarized in one of these two extremes. Either they will have full heads and empty hearts, or full hearts and empty minds. Either polarization is deadly. Balance is the key in any church. God demands both love and sound doctrine (1 Tim 1:5).
Doctrine and love are like the two chemical ingredients of salt. Interestingly, salt is composed of two poisons: sodium and chloride. If we ingest one without the other we would die. But if we combine them together properly we have sodium chloride which is common table salt. It gives flavor to food and life and health to our bodies. So too, doctrine and love must be bound together. One without the other leads to a deadly imbalance. Separately they can be deadly. But combined they provide health to the body of Christ. The church at Thyatira had gotten out of balance. They had all love but no doctrine. The result was devastating; Jezebel with her evil teaching ministry.
The initial charge against Thyatira is: "You tolerate the woman Jezebel." There is our word "tolerate "once again. Notice that Jesus' rebuke is directed against the church of Thyatira, not Jezebel. Jesus was angry that these believers tolerated false teaching and sinful behavior rather than confronting and condemning it.
I think Jesus refers to this prophetess in Thyatira as "Jezebel" because that name had become synonymous with wickedness. This Jezebel called herself a prophetess but she did not serve the Lord. Instead, she misled believers?not by seducing them herself but "by her teaching". This could mean that she openly taught that free sex and idolatry was okay, but I doubt it. Even most nominal Christians wouldn't tolerate that. It is more likely that her teaching was imbalanced and distorted to the point that her listeners were subtly enticed to engage in such behavior. This Jezebelian woman must have been persuasive, charismatic, and maybe even attractive because she was able to lead Jesus' own "bond-servants" into a religion that was essentially a combination of idol worship and orgies. Most of us can hardly imagine worship and open sexual perversion together. Generally speaking, in our society nearly all religions make at least a pretense of teaching the values of marriage, family, and faithfulness. But that is changing. What God has called an abomination in His Word, many, even in the religious community, are now calling normal and holy. That was apparently happening in the church at Thyatira as well.
It goes without saying that Jesus didn't appreciate this. So He declared, "I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality" (2:21). We must note that Jesus "gave her time to repent."It's not clear how or when this opportunity for repentance came, but it indicates an important biblical principle: the Lord's judgments are not hasty?He gives time for repentance. But that time is limited. Unfortunately in this case, this woman refused to repent. She hardened her heart.
Jesus' warning is powerful: "Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence. Three times in these two verses, the phrase "I will" appears. It is Jesus Himself who brings God's discipline. He says that Jezebel will end up on a bed of suffering since her influence has led to the violation of the marriage bed. But she is not the only one who will suffer?so will those who commit adultery with her. This could refer to literal sexual immorality, but it is more likely a reference to the spiritual adultery that her followers engage in when they accept her false teaching. Note the change from "they" to "her." This stresses that their deeds of immorality were really the product of her teaching, example, and error. Teaching is a very strong medium. We must never underestimate how a teacher can subtly influence his/her listeners. This should remind us of what a great responsibility those in places of leadership have (Luke 6:40; Jas 3:1), but also of how we need to be sure that the lives and teaching of our leaders truly line up with the Word of God.
Jesus goes on to say, "I will kill her children (i.e., disciples) with pestilence." The result of this looming judgment is then "all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts." Discipline in the church has several purposes: one is correction in the sinning person's life. Another purpose is restoration?always the goal of biblical discipline is to bring the person back to the Lord. But discipline also has the purpose of instilling a healthy respect for the Lord in the people of God.
It would be easy for us to think that we are far from the church at Thyatira. We don't have any female heretics that I am aware of; much less one that might be called a Jezebel. We don't take a casual corporate attitude toward sexual immorality, and we certainly don't promote idolatry. But I think we might be congratulating ourselves too soon. One of the things you discover readily when you read the Old Testament is that adultery and fornication are often used as symbols of spiritual unfaithfulness. Israel is often accused of adultery even when no sexual immorality is involved. When God's people put other things ahead of Him?whether it be success, prosperity, materialism, sports, fitness, financial security, or even ministry?he becomes jealous because we are being unfaithful to Him, the One who created us, loved us, died for us, and is one day coming again for us. He will tolerate no other lovers. The seductive teaching of Jezebel is a real danger in our church and every church today.
Every generation of Christians must face the question, "How far should I go in accepting and adopting the cultural standards and behaviors of my day?" .The problem is that we Christians are caught between two world
Apparently this woman claimed that her teaching (that Christians can indulge the flesh with impunity) was deeper than the apostles' teaching, but it was of course the depths of satanic doctrine. Jezebel claimed to introduce her followers into the deep things of God (1 Cor 2:10), but in reality she was introducing them to the deep things of Satan. The faithful in Thyatira had dared to stand against the pressure exerted by Jezebel and her group. In return, Jesus promised not to add a further burden to the faithful beyond that of putting up with further ridicule and social ostracism brought on by their daring to label fornication and eating meat sacrificed to idols as sinful activities in which Christians should have no part (2:24). This group of loyal Christians valued their relationship to God more than their jobs, their families, and their very lives.
To these faithful believers, Jesus says, "Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come" (2:25).Jesus again returns to the faithful remnant and concludes with a call to "hold fast what you have" until He returns. He doesn't say leave the church; He says, "hold fast" (krateo) your integrity and your works. This is no minor warning. The tendency of believers is to lose ground rather than hold fast and move ahead. Things naturally go downhill unless there is great effort against those forces that, like gravity, tend to pull us downward. So there is always the need to cling to the Lord and hold tightly through a close walk with Him in the Word.
This verse also provides an important answer for some Christians who seem to have the notion that God is impossible to please. Some get this from parents or teachers or preachers or from books, not from God Himself. Here, Jesus says to those who have resisted this false prophetess, simply "hold on." He's not asking for anything else from us and He promises things won't get any worse. Just hold on. There may be some us that are almost to the end of our rope. You're discouraged, you're depressed, you're feeling like a failure, and life seems ready to crush you. Just hold on to what you have. Yes, holding on until Jesus comes may seem like a long time, for we don't know when that will be. One thing is certain?it can't be any further away than our own death because to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (Phil 1:21-23; 2 Cor 5:6-9).
After a sobering wake-up call the church at Thyatira is ready for some hope. In 2:26, Jesus gives the clearest definition of an overcomer in these seven letters: "To him who overcomes and does my will to the end." Most anyone can run, walk, or crawl a 100-yard dash. It doesn't matter how much you weigh or how slow you are, you can travel 300 feet down a track. Obviously, not everyone will set a world record?at least not for speed. But most will eventually cross the line. But a marathon is another story. Here Jesus calls us to a marathon. This requires a determination to persevere and to finish well.
The reward for such faithfulness was the privilege of reigning with Christ in His earthly kingdom. The Lord intended the prospect of this blessing to motivate the unfaithful in the church to return to God's will for them and to encourage the faithful to persevere. Believers who are faithful will receive authority in heaven from Jesus Christ and will "rule" during the millennium. It will be run like our world today, with prime ministers, governors, and mayors who will rule for and with Christ. Where you sit then depends on how you live now. You may not live in a position of power now, but if you serve the Lord faithfully, God will give you a position of power and prestige in His kingdom.
Jesus also says that He will give the overcomer the "morning star" (2:28). Jesus is promising all overcomers His own eternal presence,for at the end of Revelation He says, "I am.the bright morning star" (Rev 22:16). The overcomer will experience great intimacy with His Lord.
But there also seems to be another emphasis. The text literally says, "the star, the morning one." This means the brilliant or bright one, the brightest of all the stars. The star of the morning may be considered the brightest, and the symbolism here indicates the glory that the righteous will experience in the coming kingdom. Daniel the prophet says it best: "the righteous will shine like the stars forever and ever" (Dan 12:3).
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Friday, March 09 2012
The message to the Church in Smyrna was studied in details with lessons which are applicable to our generation and thoroughly examined. The History of Smyrna was briefly examined and the critical appraisal of the church was also studied. Unlike the church in Ephesus, and Pergamos which we will study today, the Lord had nothing against the church in Smyrna. I pray that will be our story on the last day in Jesus name. The bible says that all these things happen to them as examples, and they are written for our admonition. I pray that none of the things we learn will count against us in the day of reckoning in Jesus Name, Amen.
Pergamos - A City of Great Wealth and Culture
Pergamos was the capital city of the province of Asia, about 60 miles north of Smyrna. Pergamos was the famous site of the Greek god of healing, supposed to be the founder of medical science. The city became the seat of Babylonian sun worship, a noble centre of idolatry and demon controlled religions with splendid temples to Nature. People from all over the Roman empire came to seek healing in this pagan temple and the shrine area was inhabited by thousands of harmless snakes. Medicine and science was worshiped here and the symbol of their worship was the serpent. The serpent was the symbol of Aslepius. This was why God referred to Pergamos as the seat of Satan. The snake was carried down into our own day with a staff entwined with serpents, still using the snake as a symbol for the medical arts. This sign is very apparent in the medical councils till this day. Noticed for its great wealth and culture, Pergamos boasted of an immense library of 200,000 volumes.
1) Power to Convict and Correct - The Sharp Two-Edged Sword [Rev. 2:12]
"Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the one with the sharp two-edged sword:"[NLT]
The Lord is described to Pargamos as having a two-edged sword. The sword is the word of God and by cutting both ways (i.e. Two-Edged), has the power to convict and correct as well as to convert, distinguishing between soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12). The church in Pargamos were not told to get out of the city but rather to repent of the false doctrine, so the sword here is especially for those who will not repent.
2) The Omniscience God - The All-Knowing [Rev. 2:13]
"I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan's city."[Emphasis Mine]
a) Just as we learnt in the past teachings, God has the capacity to know everything infinitely, He knows everything that can be known about a character including thoughts, feelings, life and the universe, etc.
"He opens up the depths, tells secrets, sees in the dark?light spills out of him!"[Daniel 2:22 MSG]
God is All-Knowing. One of the lessons we must take with us this season as we study the book of Revelation is that God's knowledge of us far supersedes man's. He will reward and judge us based on both our actions and motives. (Discuss).
b) Jesus said they sat on the seat of Satan. The province of Pergamos was like modern city of this day, alive with atrocious activities. Prostitution, crime of all magnitude was the order of the day. It must have been quite a very tempting period for the Christians of that era, yet there were still some who refused to compromise. Can you and I be counted among the faithful (sincerely) by our Maker in this day and age? Also, children of God are not supposed to run from the forces of darkness. The Almighty God does not expect us to run from battles. We are to stand (Ephesians 6: 10-18).
c) God said Antipas was His faithful martyr. The Greek word for martyr is matheus. It means, to witness. In other words, in those days, to witness Christ meant to be ready to die for Christ, no matter the circumstances. Nowadays, people are afraid of ordinary ridicule, talk less of dying for the Master .
"Stand up for me against world opinion and I'll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. If you turn tail and run, do you think I'll cover for you?"[Matt. 10: 32-33 MSG]
3) God had a few complaints against these saints [Rev. 2: 14-15]
"But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin. In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching".
a) Balaam - Loving the reward of unrighteousness: I believe there must have been some traces of the inkling to compromise in the life of Balaam for Balak to have considered and invited him to come and curse the children of Israel (...because your way is perverse before me Num.22:32). We should take heed to the prophesies concerning the last days in 2 Tim. 3: 1-9 (Read). There are devils in the church today, parading themselves as saints of God. Men that "will act as if they serve God but will not have power"
Charisma can take a man to the top, but Character will keep him there!
b) Take Heed! Teachings like that of Balaam are all around! Avoid the Nicolaitian plague also: There were some people in the church of Pergamos who were teaching exactly the same thing that Balaam taught Balak. They teach that once you are saved, you have liberty to do anything you like. This is contrary to the word in Galatians 5:13. See also 2 Peter 2:1-3. These are following the ways of Balaam (2 Peter 2:15). We must be very vigilant and studious in the things of God so we are not blown about by strange doctrines.
"Do not let all kinds of strange teachings lead you into the wrong way. Your hearts should be strengthened by God's grace..." [Hebrews 13:9 NCV]
The doctrine of the Nicolaitans is based upon the recognition of the mercy of God as the ground of salvation, but it makes the fatal mistake that men can freely partake in sin because the law of God is no longer binding! The Lord specifically mentioned in the NKJV of verse 15 "....which thing I hate". We must hate what He hates!
4) God is a Rewarder and NOT a Slave master - [Rev. 2: 16-17]
"Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth. "Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it."
a) God (as usual) offers an opportunity for a complete change of mind (according to His everlasting mercies). The choice is ours. God said He was coming to fight against those who follow wrong doctrines. He knows how to seperate between those doing His will and those who are not. This is the case in every church in the world. There will always be those who will hear the word of God and do it wholeheartedly and those who care less. We either repent or face the full wrath of His anger. I pray that will not be our portion in Jesus Name.
"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." [2 Peter 3:9NKJV]
b) God said that he that overcomes would get three (3) things. One, the overcomer will be given to eat of the hidden manna (Psalm 78:24-25). Manna is the food of angels and overcomers will eat this food. However, there is a special hidden manna that we will eat on our wedding day with Jesus. Two, the overcomer will be given a white stone. White is the colour of heaven (Rev 3:5; 19:8). Three, on the white stone will be written new Names. No matter what we have been tagged or named with here on earth, there is a new name awaiting us in heaven where everything is new, halleluyah.
Our rewards will be commensurate with our level of committment and loyalty to our Lord and savior. How sweet will it be to hear our Lord say unto us;
"His lord said to him, ?Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'" [Matthew 25:21 NKJV]
Wednesday, February 22 2012
In our last study in the Book of Revelation 2:1-7, we saw the divine appraisal of the church in Ephesus. The Lord in His appraisal of this Church did not start by pointing out their weaknesses, but commended their good points before addressing the issue of their departure from their First Love for Him. He offered solution to the problem as well as the consequences of non-compliance.
This week, the Lord is focusing on the Church in Smyrna. We shall first study the background of this city to give us better understanding of the situation of the Church in Smyrna.
To the Church in Smyrna Rev.2:8-11
Smyrna lay just 35 miles north of Ephesus on the west coast of Asia on the Aegean Sea. It was the loveliest of all the cities and was sometimes called "the Ornament of Asia," "the Crown of Asia," or sometimes "the Flower of Asia." It was beautifully situated. It was a Greek colony as far back as 1000 B.C. Around 600 B.C. it was invaded and destroyed by the Lydeans and for 400 years there was no city there at all. Then around 200 B.C the city had experienced death and had literally been brought back to life. It is undoubtedly because of Smyrna's historical past, Christ refers to Himself as, "He who was dead and has come to life."
Another interesting fact is that the city received its name from one of its principle products, a sweet perfume called myrrh. This was a gum resin taken from a shrub-like tree. Though it had a bitter taste, the resin of the tree was used in making perfume (Ps. 45:8), was one of the ingredients used in the anointing oil of the priests (Ex. 30:23), and in the embalming of the dead (John 19:39). Smyrna is Ionic Greek for myrrh, a fragrant perfume used in burial. Many believe this church represents the martyrs of all time and the sweet smelling fragrance of their devotion until death (2 Cor. 4:14-16). It is located in the present day Turkey.
1) The Introduction of Jesus to the Church; Rev.2:8
"And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things said the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive."
It is the risen and ascended, but active Saviour who addresses the church in these messages. Again we see how the perfections of Christ's person and work answers to the needs, problems, and conditions in each church. Since many in this church died for their faith, Christ assures them of their resurrection and future rewards because He is the first and last, the eternal God who became man, died and rose again (1 Pet. 1:3; Acts 2:24).
2) His Comfort and Approval. Rev.2:9 "I know your works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but you are rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan."
Out of the seven Churches written to, only two passed the examination of Jesus Christ. He did not find anything against them. One of them was this Church in Smyrna. I pray that at the end, the Lord will find nothing against Miracle Land in Jesus' name. Amen.
He knows their works (2:9). As with all the churches; Christ knows every work performed. We should be aware that the Lord is keeping records of everything we are doing for Him.
He knows their tribulation (2:9). The word "tribulation" is qlipsis which means "pressure, a literal crushing beneath a weight." The pressure of events is on the Church at Smyrna, and the forces of circumstances are trying to crush the Christianity out of them. They were under great persecution. Polycarp was eighty-six when he was killed for his faith in Christ.
He knows their poverty (2:9). The word "poverty" is ptwceia, and describes absolute poverty or complete destitution. Christ offers no criticism of this church. The saints were faithful in spite of suffering at the hands of their Jewish persecutors. They thought they were poor, but in contrast to Laodicea, which thought it was rich and was poor, these saints were rich (3:17).
He knows their persecutors (2:9b). These were the religious Jews who claimed to be the seed of Abraham. They were, but only physically. Spiritually they were of Satan and under his power and control (John 8:33-34). In Numbers 16:3, Israel was called the congregation of the Lord, but here Christ calls these unbelieving Jews, the congregation of Satan (John 8:33 with 8:44).
Application: Our Lord, so faithful to know and observe our lives and needs, first assures them He knows and cares for their condition and the great suffering on His behalf, and then commends them for their spiritual wealth in the midst of their physical poverty and suffering, much of which was brought about by the religious Jews of Smyrna. So, while poor, they were rich. They were rich positionally in Christ (Eph. 1:3) which, of course, was by grace. They were also rich in that God had counted them worthy to suffer for Him (1 Pet. 3:14-17; 1:6; 4:13-14). Finally, it appears they were rich in their spiritual lives because they were living close to God by faith.
3) His Counsel and Admonition. Rev. 2:10 "Fear none of those things which you shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days: be you faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life."
Concerning fear and suffering: "Do not fear" is literally "fear nothing." No matter how small or how severe, the One who has overcome death says, "fear nothing." They could cast their burden on the Lord. He cared and He had overcome (Phil. 4:6-8; 1 Pet. 5:7; Isa. 41:10).
Concerning the future and testing: Some would face prison and severe testing, even death. It would be for ten days, a rather short period. But note the connection of this with Satan. This persecution is attributed to the Devil. It is a continuation of the serpent's battle with the Lord Jesus Christ and those who belong to Him (Gen. 3:15; John 15:18-21). Humans are those we see persecuting the church of Jesus Christ, but invariably, behind the scenes is the old arch enemy, the prince of the power of the air. But never fear, the binder of believers in prison shall be bound, he is a defeated foe (Rev. 20:1-3; Rom. 16:20; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14-15).
Concerning faithfulness and rewards: Be faithful until death. This means, be faithful to the point of martyrdom. Continue to trust the Lord, be faithful to Him and the truth of His Word even in the face of death.
The promise: "I will give you the crown of life." The reward here is not eternal life. Eternal life is a gift through faith or personal belief in Jesus Christ (John 1:11-12; 3:16; 1 John 5:11-12). This is a special reward for endurance under persecution
Application: Note that victory in this present life is closely associated with occupation and orientation to the weightier things of eternity and the glories which shall follow (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Here is one of those things which should distinguish believers from unbelievers. Believers are to be sojourners who live with a view to eternity, while unbelievers are scripturally classified as earthdwellers (1 Pet. 1:17; 2:11; Rev. 3:10; Isa. 24:17).
4) His Challenge and Assurance .Rev.2:11 "He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches; He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death."
The promise to the overcomer is that he shall not be hurt by the second death. The second death is eternal separation from God in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:1, 14). Believers may face physical death, but because they have had a second birth (John 3:3-7), no believer will ever face the second death (Eph. 2:1, 5; John 5:24; 11:25. Some in Smyrna, as Polycarp, would die a martyr's death, so the Lord is reminding them of this fact. It was not easy to be a Christian in Smyrna yet the letter to them was full of praise.
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Friday, February 10 2012
In last week's study titled "Encounter with The Glorified Jesus" we looked at John's encounter with Jesus; his command to write what he saw and the first of the things that was revealed to him.
In today's study we shall be considering the contents of the first of the letters written to one of the 7 Asian churches - the letter to the church in Ephesus and from it learn lessons from the Lord's appraisal of this church and discover that the book of Revelations is not all about mysteries and symbols but that and a lot more!
1. The Recipient of the letter
1TO THE angel (messenger) of the assembly (church) in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him Who holds the seven stars [which are the messengers of the seven churches] in His right hand, Who goes about among the seven golden lampstands [which are the seven churches]:
THE angel (messenger) of the assembly (church) in Ephesus
The first issue to consider is "who was this message written to?" seeing that John was asked to write it to the "angel" of the church in Ephesus. In the New Testament, the Greek word for angels (aggelos) was not only used for heavenly angels, but also used for human messengers, such as John the Baptist in Matthew 11:10
"For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee." See also Mark 1:2 and Luke 7:27
2. The Aspects of His Appraisal
In the next six verses we will consider Jesus' appraisal of the church in Ephesus. Looking through these verses one will have no doubt that His method of appraisal was perfect and have transcended centuries to our present era. It will pass any day for a perfect blueprint of personnel appraisal!
"I know your industry and activities, laborious toil and trouble, and your patient endurance, and how you cannot tolerate wicked [men] and have tested and critically appraised those who call [themselves] apostles (special messengers of Christ) and yet are not, and have found them to be impostors and liars. I know you are enduring patiently and are bearing up for My name's sake, and you have not fainted or become exhausted or grown weary."
(a) He Emphasized the Positives
He started with and discussed their achievements - the positives of the church; their laborious toils and troubles, their patient endurance and how they detested the wicked and tested the false prophets. Verse 1 He commended their efforts; he focused on their strengths (their enduring patience and consistency) Verse 2.
Jesus, in His appraisal of the church in Ephesus revealed the blueprint for appraisals; this has been adopted by the secular world today.
They recommend to: Open the appraisal meeting with positive comments and discuss any objectives set whether they have been achieved.
Despite the fact that He had some issues with the church; He showed us that focus should never be on the negatives.
So what are the positives we can imbibe? What were the things He was pleased with?
From verses 2 & 3 we see the following: the active (Eccl 9:10); the hardworking (Proverbs 12:14) those who refuse to quit (Gal 6:9); those who can't stomach evil (Psalms 15:4), those who test all spirits and get rid of false prophets (1John 4:1), the persistent (Matt 24:13), the courageous (1 Corinthians 16:13), and those who don't grow weary (Gal 6:9).
(b) He Addressed the Negative
"But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]."
He was sincere with them; He identified their weakness and told them what it was. He did not leave them confused or unsure of where they stood with Him. He was clear about His expectations - they had left their first love.
For us today, it is a call for soul searching. The Bible says in the end time the love of many will wax cold. It is a call for us to go back to our first love, back to when we yearned for Him daily; to follow Him closely and love Him deeply.
(c) He offered solution to the problem as well as the consequences of non-compliance
Remember then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God's will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent.
He did not leave them without a way of escape; He offered the solution to their problem. Effectively He was saying this is your shortcoming and this is the way to overcome it.
Once again the secular world recommends that "there is an understanding of the next steps going forward"
"Yet you have this [in your favor and to your credit]: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans [what they are doing as corrupters of the people], which I Myself also detest.
He did not leave them in the state of "wallowing in their failures" but went further to commend them for hating the works of the Nicolaitans. (The Nicolaitans were a sect that lead lives of unrestrained indulgence, that ate things offered to idols, Nicolas (the founder) allowed other men to marry his wife and supported either polygamy or the holding of wives in common.)
The secular world today recommends starting an appraisal with a positive and ending with a positive.
(e) He offered a reward for those who would comply - an incentive
He who is able to hear, let him listen to and give heed to what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches). To him who overcomes (is victorious), I will grant to eat [of the fruit] of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
A perfect motivation; but for those who are able to hear, listen and give heed.
Unfortunately many have removed themselves from where they would be able to hear; talk less of listening and giving heed.
The book of Revelations is not all about mysteries and symbols but that and a lot more! Today's study should serve as a beacon for church leaders and those who criticize or appraise others. It is also a reminder for every one of us to go back to our first love, focus on doing the things that please the Master and steer clear of the things He detests; and finally to remember that the ultimate pursuit should be heaven.
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Thursday, January 26 2012
Our Bibles carry the title of the book as "The Revelation of John," or "The Revelation to John" which means it is a revelation given to the Apostle John, but the proper name is found in the first words of 1:1, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ." Revelation is from the Greek word apokalupsis meaning "a disclosure, an unveiling."
Our study last week pointed to the fact that the book of Revelation validates and authenticates certain central issues mainly- the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the reward that awaits everyone who accepts the Lordship and sovereignty of Christ, the potency of the blood of Jesus. It also provides a peek into the mode of worship in the heavenly realm.
Rev.1:3 The Book of Revelation proclaims a blessing to everyone who reads and hears the word of this prophecy and Revelation 22:10 says, "seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near." God does not intend for the truth of this book to be sealed to man. He intended the church to study and understand the message of Revelation.
Rev. 1:1 revealed the flow of command from God to Jesus Christ and to John by His Angel. Rev.1:8 revealed the deity of Jesus Christ;" I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, said the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty".
Today we shall continue our study from verses 9 to 20.
1) Verse 9 "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ"
John begins this section by calling himself "your brother, and companion in tribulation" The word "brother" stresses the family relationship that we have when we are born into God's spiritual family. The phrase "companion in