Tag: Revelation

Jesus Is Coming!

Revelation 22:6-21

Read toward end of Mark’s gospel, Jesus ending his time of earthly ministry, Mark 16:15And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Don’t have to know much about world missions to be convinced there’s more to do. Weekly reminder on back of bulletin – unreached people.

“We have an unfinished task, and it’s a huge task, and we desperately need the grace of our God to help us finish that task. We won’t finish it in our generation, but we can complete the race he’s given us. That’s our goal, that’s our desire.” Jamie Howell, GBC Taylors

Too often take tomorrow and next week and the following year for granted, even when read portions of God’s word like our text. Christ’s church by and large has lost sense of urgency that Jesus’ words should inspire in all of us. Clear grasp of what Jesus said, how much time has elapsed, how much still left to do should impel us to action.

Three times in closing portion of Revelation Lord Jesus himself declares “I am coming quickly!” Prefaced twice with imperative “Look!”, “Pay attention”, and once with strong affirmation “surely”, “truly”. Should be obvious Lord of the Church intends his people to get the point – he is coming! and without delay. Jesus willcome back just as soon as all pieces of picture are in place, every element of God’s eternal purpose for this age is complete.

A. be confident – he is coming quickly (6-7)

faithful and true – said by “God of the prophets”

is Lord Jesus himself who testifies that these things are true – even though angel served as intermediary, carries full weight of divine sanction

just as surely as ancient prophets proclaimed “thus says the Lord”, angel was communicating God’s word to John… w/o errors or omissions – a complete and accurate transmission of truth from God

all who read and hear message of Revelation can be absolutely certain are hearing directly from God what he intended to communicate… and that Jesus is coming back, quickly

confidence should stir us to obedience

if are confident Jesus meant what he said, we must be prepared for his coming at any moment – iow, doing what he told us to do

the only way he will find faith on the earth when he returns is if his people are showing love for him by obeying his commands

confidence should encourage us to evangelize

confidence in Christ’s return as God’s appointed judge should compel us to do our part to win the lost to Christ

our appointed task: be ready at all times to give an answer for the hope that is in us (1 Pet. 3:15), live so people will ask the question… showing by conduct we do have a hope

confidence should drive out fear

if truly believe Jesus is our King and he wins, should not fear what evil people and powers might try to do – remember promises to those who overcome

confidence in hope of eternal life should take away any fear related to this life – deny self, take up cross, follow Jesus regardless of cost, trust him to provide for all your needs

confident obedience brings God’s blessing

“blessed is he who keeps the words” – not responsible for results, are responsible for own conduct; no matter how our efforts turn out, God blesses us for obeying and trusting him for outcome

take to heart Jesus’ message for his church, take courage, press forward in work he has given you confident his purpose will be accomplished

B. worship God – he is coming quickly (8-12)

poor John, does it again – so overcome he worships wrong person

not long before this (Rev. 19:9-10) John did same thing… fell on face, trying to worship God’s messenger; he really knew better

powerful reminder in “anything goes” culture – it does matter who / what we worship: must be right God in right way

good John, does it again – so overcome he worships

he did set right example – response of one who gets the picture, who really grasps what John saw / communicated: must be worship

should not wait until see it in person – reading and understanding truths of Revelation should fill hearts and minds with love, thankfulness, desire to worship God… starting now

worship of God by disciples the goal of evangelism/missions

let’s put two statements of Jesus together, from Mark and Matthew – “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations”

#1 – Jesus’ followers must go into all the world; #2 – they must proclaim the Gospel to everyone; #3 – they must make disciples; #4 – true disciples / followers of Jesus are worshipers

in our evangelism, in our missions work, we must not stop with making converts – must make disciples, teaching them by word and example how to follow Christ

right worship of true God brings reward

when Jesus comes, will reward all who are his with eternal life in its fullness; will reward all others with eternal death in all its horror

those who worship true God with genuine faith have nothing to fear; the rest need to hear the truth and respond

C. Jesus guarantees it – he is coming quickly (13-17, 20a)

the Alpha and the Omega – the Beginning and the End – the First and the Last

the one who spoke it all into existence, who governs all things, and who is sovereignly directing all of human history toward his appointed end – absolutely nothing takes place outside God’s plan

the Lord Jesus sends his messenger to inform his church but he will come personally to gather his church, bring this age to an end and usher in next age

the Root and the Offspring of David

Jesus the only one who has authority to make such large promises – both root from which David came and descendant of David

who else but second person of Godhead be both David’s Lord and David’s son? – hard to wrap minds around, yet blessed truth

the Bright and Morning Star

not just the donkey that had it right, Balaam prophesied truly: “A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel” (Num. 24:17) – Jesus here claiming to John that he was fulfillment of that Messianic prophecy

just as surely as Jesus fulfilled every promise made about a deliverer, so surely will everything revealed in pages of Revelation come to pass… in his way, according to his perfect schedule

surely I am coming soon

didn’t just say in offhand way “I’ll see you sometime” – says emphatically “assuredly”, “truly” as if under oath “I am coming soon”… is absolutely certain

Jesus is coming at any moment – are you ready to meet him? Invitation open to all who will come – him who hears, thirsts, desires… come and partake of water of life

all who drink that water will be satisfied, forever with endless and abundant joys and blessings from Lord Jesus himself

D. final warning (18-19)

do not try to make it say more than it does

systems of interpretation – timelines

books written to describe different systems, novels and movies have their fan club, at times used as test to see if people can be friends, if churches can fellowship together

does your timeline match mine, does your system agree with theirs, what labels – stop it already!

truths expressed in Revelation given by the Lord of the Church to comfort and encourage and strengthen his people

those who use it to drive Christians apart ought to be ashamed; same for those who spread fear among believers by how they apply Revelation to current events

do not try to make it say less than it does

incredible blessing for those who read and heed

Rev 1:3Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Rev. 16:15 “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”

Rev 22:7 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

Rev 22:14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

to receive blessing, cannot be afraid of book, cannot avoid book, must spend time in the book… especially as return comes nearer – now not the time for apathy, laziness, inattention

must be diligent to live in such a way that we encourage others to become disciples of Jesus

fearsome consequences for those who reject and redefine

be careful to warn those who do so of danger they face, depend on God for the results

E. our response (20b-21)

“Come, Lord Jesus” – could borrow concept from Paul – torn between two things: desire for Lord Jesus to return, desire for lost to be converted

seems to our view is much work left to be done – Jesus may see it differently; however, we must be about Father’s business, carrying light of Gospel into dark places, praying God will use us to lead lost sinners to Christ

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Eden Regained… and More

Revelation 22:1-5

Should have figured out by now – Revelation not a source of data used to establish timeline, set dates. Does not enable us to know when to sell off assets, say goodbye to friends and family, gather on mountaintop and wait to see Jesus. That is task for other people. Lord Jesus said

“A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.'” (Luke 19:12-13)

Our task as people of God in these latter days between Jesus’ first and second advents – occupy, engage in business, be about Lord’s business each and every day he gives us. While we are about his business, Revelation encourages us:

Christ is with us in the church – walking among candlesticks, holding stars in his hands

Christ will enable his people to persevere, to overcome in midst of great tribulation

Christ will equip his people to be effective in his business – all we do his way in his strength will produce results he intends

Christ is preparing a glorious certain future for his people that goes beyond our ability to even imagine

God is irresistibly moving his Plan A forward to his appointed conclusion according to his timetable… and he wins!

Revelation informs us and assure us about God’s final purposes – no matter how bleak it might look, God will bring about his perfect plan. Just as important, understanding Revelation should increase our longing for God and the realization of his purpose.

Revelation increases longing two ways: giving glimpse of future glories, at same time showing how tarnished and temporary things associated with this world are. No wonder Paul, Col. 3:2Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” The best this world offers but a shadow of God’s true reality for us in next age. Yet gracious Heavenly Father does not require us to wait until then to enjoy small measure of what he is preparing for us. “God is so far in love with his children that he keeps not all their comforts for another world, but gives them a taste of the sweetness here.” Richard Sibbes

The Christian begins his life in heaven here on earth, praising and glorifying God by a holy and fruitful life. When appointed time comes to leave this life for next, will be greater change than going from dark tunnel into broad sunlight. Then, even greater transformation takes place – 1 Th. 4:16-17For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

John weaves together imagery from number of places throughout Bible – account of Creation, Ezekiel’s temple, Jesus’ encounter with Samaritan woman. Strongest connections with first Paradise, Garden of Eden, yet with differences.

First a walled garden in land of Eden, God’s house / temple where Adam and Eve worshiped. Eternal house of God will be the church itself, redeemed people of God who fill new creation. First had an earthly character, final dwelling place of God with his people has heavenly spiritual character. Unlike first Garden, final new creation place of absolute incorruptibility. Eden will be regained… and more; healing will be complete; curse will be forever reversed; will be perfect intimacy between God and man; will be glories beyond description or imagination.

A. Eden plus (1)

like tabernacle, first Eden an image of the final Paradise

place where God put Adam (Gen. 2:15) with a purpose: to serve God… “tend and keep it”, under watchful and loving gaze, in God’s temple (priestly duties)

place of close fellowship and worship, albeit with boundaries – God and man conversed directly, God walked with man intimately

God planted a temple in Eden, not a farm, holy ground eventually guarded by angels; our final home, a city-temple extending to all of new creation, where God walks among his people forever

Eden’s river watered the orchard, from there divided into 4 that watered the earth

in eternal temple, see that source of “river of water of life” is God himself – “throne of God and of the Lamb”, perhaps true in Eden as well

this river flows in fullness throughout all the land, source of purity and life for all watered by it – endued with power not present in Eden’s river and its branches

easy to see in river of grace and life a picture of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39) flowing through the heart of the glorified church

Jesus himself said “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” Now this he said about the Spirit”

don’t think for minute we will be able to do everything for ourselves – will be just as dependent on God’s continual sustaining then as now

B. complete healing (2)

tree of life in first Eden – forbidden access

perhaps was very close to throne of God, like menorah – shaped like tree with branches, leaves, buds near Holy of Holies

eventually after Fall guarded like throne of God in heaven by cherubim he appointed – man in sin graciously kept from partaking

tree of life at Golgotha – limited access

sacrifice on that tree by only one in all of human history suited for task that procured life for all who come to him by faith

Gal. 3:13Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” – turned the cross into tree of life so we could partake freely from eternal tree of life

tree of life in new earth – full access

street lined with them, a veritable forest of them, nourished by “river of water of life” – one of many different kinds as in Eden

surrounded now by incredible diversity… after the Curse – will be even grander then; yet “tree of life” is at center of all

tree represents complete fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law …so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles”, to the nations (Gal. 3:14)

C. curse reversed (3)

“no more curse” drives attention to before the Curse – Adam placed in Garden as representative of all his descendants

Rom. 5:12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned”

because Adam failed test of obedience and sinned, Adam failed us all, we get credit for his sin and come under Curse

if that is where God left us, are then in totally hopeless state, no positive outlook for future – you say “not fair, I had no say”

last Adam has done what first Adam failed

God sent another Adam, son the Lord Jesus, tested in every point and passed perfectly – so “The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (1 Cor. 15:45)

Jesus stands as representative of his people, through faith in Christ we get credit for his righteousness, Curse is lifted

only those who have saving faith in last Adam will be present

1 Cor. 15:22as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Rom. 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” Eph. 1:10 God “in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth”

God dwelling without restriction among his people

is because God mercifully limits display of his presence, willingly veils himself that we are not consumed – is only for this life

when God keeps his promise: “God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” (2 Cor. 6:16)

D. perfect intimacy (4)

God’s people enjoying him without restriction

now we are no better than Moses – “no man shall see my face and life” (Ex. 33:20) – then we “will see his face in righteousness, be satisfied with his likeness” (Ps. 17:15)

“Face to face with Christ, my Savior, / Face to face—what will it be, / When with rapture I behold Him, / Jesus Christ who died for me? / Only faintly now I see Him, / With the darkened veil between, / But a blessèd day is coming, / When His glory shall be seen. / Face to face I shall behold Him, / Far beyond the starry sky; / Face to face in all His glory, / I shall see Him by and by!

bearing evidence of God’s never-ending ownership

image of God in which Adam was made, terribly fractured, defaced, distorted in the Fall – now that Image restored in perfection

not only glory of God from his own Being that illuminates new universe – also glory of God radiating from all who bear his image

his face will shine on his people eternally

are familiar with blessing Aaron was instructed to speak before children of Israel

Num. 6:24-27“The LORD bless you and keep you;The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”‘

now last verse of that instruction: ​”So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” – will be everlasting blessing from God on his people

E. glories beyond description (5)

Dan. 12:3And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

will be a never-ending kingdom: Christ has “made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”, he will remain King of kings with “glory and dominion for ever and ever”

Lest you think this is all pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by, “They have the first-fruits of [these glories] even in this life; and if the communion of saints here be so delectable, how much more will it be in heaven! God’s children have a taste of that eternal Sabbath in heaven, by keeping a holy Sabbath to God here on earth; they have a taste of that eternal rest and peace which they shall enjoy hereafter, by the peace of conscience which they have here; and that heavenly joy which doth flow into the soul now, is but a taste of that eternal joy which we shall have our fill of one day.” Richard Sibbes

If we really believe that, how should we live?

live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives”Titus 2:12

“Fight the good fight of faith” against all enemies. 1 Tim. 6:12

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” Matt. 6:33 Every thought, word, deed maximizing our investment in heaven in power of God he supplies, increasing our desire for it “because it is a holy place and near to God”.

The Glory of God

Rev. 21:22-21:27

When thinking about heaven, what is most appealing? most desirable? Freedom from illness? frustration? sin? Reunion with loved ones? Escape from all that makes this life difficult? Opportunity to ask Paul or Moses or some other hero that burning question? All that is true, awaiting those who die in the Lord. Not the primary focus of closing portion of Revelation. Much greater emphasis on God, relationship with his people, the glory of God that fills every part of new heaven and earth.

Fundadmental difference between life in this age and next: difference between symbol and reality. Life now filled with symbols – words and pictures and objects that take place of something real. Symbols are helpful and useful… but only to a point. Picture/symbol of food on package useful so we know what is inside but… does not satisfy hunger! Same is true in spiritual realm – things we can see and touch are copies and shadows of heavenly things. We take on faith that heavenly things exist, are real even though as yet unseen. Waters of baptism, bread and wine of Lord’s Table, the Cross just a few of vitally important symbols – communicate real truth, nourish our faith, help us grasp spiritual concepts otherwise obscure.

What gives symbols value and significance – the reality they point to. What John is talking about in final two chapters – that future time and place where heavenly realities will be accessible to us. Will be able to see / hear / touch things we must take by faith now. Not a leap in the dark into the unknown – have God’s revelation to us in his Word the Bible, confirmed and made understandable by his indwelling Spirit. God is there, he has spoken and still speaks, revealing to us glorious future that awaits all those who are his.

One further note: John in all his writing, Revelation especially, keeps bringing focus back to Lord Jesus. Here, one right after another, three strong declarations of deity of Christ as the Lamb:

Lord God Almighty and the Lamb its temple” (22), “glory of God illuminated it, the Lamb its light” (23), “throne of God and the Lamb” (22:3)

Lamb is object of worship, reserved for God alone; Lamb is (not has on/with him) the glory / radiance of God; Lamb is King ruling and being worshiped, “sharing” authority with God

Four points John makes for us from his vision of new universe: no separation between sacred and secular; no darkness, no idleness, no impurity there.

A. no separation between “sacred” and “secular” (22, 25a)

this age

Eden – distinct from surroundings Gen. 3:23-24

Garden, first Paradise, not primarily a farm; rather a place of worship, indeed the first Holy of Holies where God met with man

yet even there at beginning God’s presence not obvious throughout – Adam/Eve hid from God; later, banished from Garden… and kept out

tabernacle – curtains, veil, restrictions

whenever Israelites made camp, set up curtains around worship space – physical and visible separation that grew more restrictive moving toward Holy of Holies

temple – same deal

in both: Ex. 40:35Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because …the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle”

2Chr 7:2the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the Lord’s house.

places, things and people set apart for sacred use

outside worship space, the secular or common; inside, sacred – what was devoted to worship / service to God

next age

everything pictured in the “copies” present in reality

“holy places made with hands …are copies of the true” (Heb. 9:24) – symbols of true realiity God’s people will experience

God will be our light, our life, our sustenance, continually; communication with God will be instantaneous

no longer any reason for people to be kept at distance

everything that put up barriers completely removed – no more corruption of any kind anywhere to be offensive to God

no reason for God to be at distance (cf. Moses, Ex. 33:20)

“we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2) – will be able to see God truly… and without harm

all of life in all of world “coram Deo”

visibly, audibly present in fullness everywhere and at all times – now God sees all, we don’t; then will know his continual presence

no temple does not mean no worship

Rev. 4:8-11 living creatures gathered around God’s throne continually w/o interruption give glory and honor… worship… to God

wherever God is, the Lamb is… will be worship – in the city, that is, with the redeemed wherever they are, filling the earth

all of life a continual act of worship – doing all to glory of God immediately present, in continual fellowship with God

B. no darkness1 John 1:5; Ps. 121:4 (23,25b)

darkness throughout Bible often represents all that is opposed to God

sin – “the wicked shall be cut off in darkness” (1 Sam. 2:9); those “who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness” (Prov. 2:13)

judgment – “cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 25:30)

everything/everyone associated with darkness already consigned to lake of fire

unholy trinity and company – dragon, beast, false prophet “tormented day and night forever and ever” – no hope of escape, ever (Rev. 20:10)

death and grave – apart from power of God, are inescapable; same also true for second death, lake of fire

all those not in Lamb’s Book of Life – those who “walked in darkness because their deeds were evil” continue in darkness forever

God is eternally unchanging, so also the light of his glory – James 1:17

he is Father of lights, “there is no variation or shadow of turning” – in new universe, will be nothing that holds it back either

Jesus’ prayer answered: John 17:5, and more – prayed that “Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed”

glory will extend to all who “walk in its light” – is part of what John meant when said “we shall be like him” – will share in his glory

no need for sun or moon – may still be present to mark seasons, days, years (Gen. 1:14)

seems basic constituents of original creation will be present in new universe but with better qualities – made perfect to stay perfect… forever

C. no idlenessIsa. 60:3-9 (24,26)

were made to serve God with hands as well as lips

why God said we are to love him with all our “strength” – what we produce by our physical efforts intended to bring glory to God

nations, kings of the earth, glory and honor of nations – clearly will be structure and order to life in new universe

if were counting on eternal vacation – soaking up sun, relaxing while angels make meals & do laundry, think again!

not only equipped to serve, will have unending desire to serve God – to be busy producing all manner of things to offer to God, and for benefit of others

parable of talents, Matt. 25:14ff, Jesus makes connection with how his servants use resources in this life and reward in next

will have un-cursed earth to manage

just because uncorrupted does not mean can tend itself – first earth couldn’t – makes sense because God is only self-existent Being: everything apart from God dependent in some way

apparently essential to God’s nature that he create and sustain – if not, nothing would exist apart from God

image-bearers reflect that creativity – why in first universe man told to make earth productive, fill and subdue it

will not be burdensome or laborious – Rom. 8:21

creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” – new created order no longer resisting man’s efforts to manage it

labor instead will bring great reward, pleasure, satisfaction – just as God satisfied with creative efforts, same true for saints

D. no impurity (27)

pure church

no remaining sin – made perfectly holy – no longer need for any barriers: what John heard being sung in Rev. 5:10 the reality

“you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” – perfectly suited for service in God’s immediate presence

no unredeemed sinners – strong declaration that those who make up holy city need not fear ever being contaminated by sin

no death – is place of life, eternal life… no possibility of separation from one another or from God, ever

no danger from either inside or outside the city

gates don’t need to be closed – no one will ever want to leave, none who are not authorized will ever try to enter

really no inside/outside – city/saints/Bride, glory of God fills the earth – like a city displays splendor of its construction, so glorified Church will display splendor of her Maker throughout the earth

Is glory of God that makes new universe so beautiful and desirable – the Lamb who is its temple, the Lamb who is its light, the Lord Jesus himself.

The Bride, the Lamb’s Wife

Revelation 21:9-21

While back someone came up with way to turn Bible into acronym, you know, where each letter begins word that makes statement of some kind. BIBLE – Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Problem is, spend too much time using Bible like handbook rather than picture book. Yes, is written using words, very precise ones at that. But shouldn’t focus so much on the words that we miss the images God intends us to see. Is especially true when we come to literature like Revelation – gets even more important closer we come to end.

1 Cor. 2:9“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” NLT

If God is right, and he is, and is beyond human ability to conceive plan of salvation, is certainly beyond reach to imagine heaven. Why important? John’s description of next age is best he could do using human language and understanding – attempting to describe the indescribable. Reality will be immeasurably more… glorious than what we read in Revelation. Is limit to how far we can go in trying to grasp full scope of what John saw. God will overlook no detail, spare no expense in preparing both his people and their new home.

Remember the picture book concept? Definitely applies to the holy city – it is both picture and place. Just like Jerusalem, a place in Palestine… and much more – even in old days it stood for more than just a city. Was a particular city – home of the king, location of central worship, where God dwelt with his people. New Jerusalem as John saw it a picture of God’s people, body of Christ, the church. Also the place where God himself will dwell with his people… forever! That is where angel begins in conversation with John, inviting him to come see a sight like had never seen before.

A. announcement v.9

the harlot’s done, come see the bride – God’s messenger who poured out final judgment bringing about destruction of Babylon

does not leave John or us hanging – the counterfeit has met her final doom, pretender has been destroyed, is there a real one?

yes, come see the true bride – one united with genuine Bridegroom, the Lamb of God who paid her purchase price in full

in order for Lamb to have suitable wife, he had to do things first, things future bride could not do for herself – redeem her from sin, restore her to fellowship, cleanse all her sin and sinfulness… making her holy

at point in time described here, no longer merely betrothed – is “the wife of the Lamb” – finally and fully prepared for her husband

what John saw presented to us in text and continuing thru 22:5 is future glory of Christ’s church his dwelling place as he presents her to himself

if Christ’s body, the church has this sort of glory, what must the place where she lives be like? glorious beyond imagination

B. the bride v.10-14

city

“city that never sleeps” – can only be called that because of human activity that goes on around the clock

place of relationships, community – far more than simply streets and buildings, is people related somehow… in community

same sin that interferes in relationship w/God hinders all other relationships – will be more intimate / rewarding than anything experienced now

not just any city, a mega-polis, a mega-city – finally the unity Jesus prayed for (John 17) will be reality among every member of his body w/o exception

contrast to Babel, building tower to reach heaven – holy Jerusalem coming down from heaven, bringing heaven with her

no longer at risk to have common language – all residents of that city propose to do will bring honor to God

this the city Abraham looked for Heb. 11:10the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” – people and place perfectly suited to one another by God’s design and making

glory

possesses indescribable glory not of her own making

all that makes her beautiful and glorious comes freely from God himself – absolutely no room for boasting on any level except in God

difference between portrait and person – presence of life gives radiance and beauty missing in static image

this city, people of God experiencing life as never before – cannot begin to grasp it, have no frame of reference

not that God made city glorious, gave glory to her – has glory that comes from God’s very presence

God’s glory radiating unhindered from God present everywhere without limitation – no filters, no dimmer switches

light

something we still can’t nail down – a wave? particle? both? how/why does it do what appears to do?

John couldn’t even fully express what he saw – best he could do “it is like this, it is like that”, not really doing it justice

bends, refracts, reflects in infinite number of colors/hues

perhaps our new eyes will see more parts of spectrum than ever knew existed – seeing uncorrupted universe in its eternal perfected glory, the best God could make

brilliance of gemstone – ability to reflect light back to the eye – affected by both cut and purity

remember, this is new universe – no source of impurity, no defects of workmanship, is perfect brilliance by God’s perfect standard

city’s brilliance – glory of God that drove people out of tent of meeting / temple shining and sparkling in all colors of spectrum

a glory of such intensity that God could not allow Moses to see it directly; powerful enough that Jesus’ human face “shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light”

a splendor that fills new universe without restriction

wall

completely surrounds city – disperses light of God’s presence to surrounding earth in all directions

God’s people will dwell in perfect security – no possibility of infiltration by anyone or anything that would harm or corrupt city

his glory will fill all the earth – v.18, “construction of its wall was of jasper” – not to keep light in, to disperse God’s glory

John’s first sight into heaven – Rev. 4:2-3At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.”

another way radiance of God’s glory fills and permeates the city and all its surroundings

gates

gates on all sides – not one of families of earth will be excluded, not one part of universe excluded from light of God’s glory

is final destination for God’s OT people – real Promised Land, Canaan only faint shadow of a down-payment yet real

those who maintain a hope for Jerusalem missing out on inheritance in New Jerusalem – through faith in Christ God’s people receive blessings promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob

foundations

includes NT people of God, too – the apostles and all who came to faith through their testimony

the Lamb is common element shared by all God’s people – pictured in Passover lamb, then bread and wine, one Lamb of God

C. the size v.15-17

huge interior

Lord Jesus to have a big family – Rom. 8:29whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren”

room for everyone, no matter how long Christ tarries – those “redeemed to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” Rev. 5:9

impenetrable wall

place of perfect security – these walls, unlike old Jerusalem, never broken down, gates never torn off hinges and burned

where the redeemed will serve God as priests, from where they will rule over new universe in way first Adam expected to rule first universe

D. the construction v.18-21

everything of value and beauty

but not only about the “house”, the “city” – foundations of city have names of apostles and precious stones… reminder of high priest’s breastplate with stone for each tribe

represented here all the people of God, every one for whom Christ died, displaying glories of redemption in all directions

everywhere you look – purity and splendor and majesty of God – wall is jasper, first foundation the same

clearly a city whose designer and builder and foundation and protection is God himself – yes, city is beautiful, but gaze is drawn to source of beauty… God

see again priceless value and glory God permanently bestows on his people

all its dimensions point to completion – nothing left out, nothing overlooked, Creator of all things spared no expense or effort

in all of this God in providing what is best for his people for eternity is displaying his own glory – all who live there awed by God’s glory, not their own achievements

E. from bedraggled to spotless

church today in many respects not much to look at – dressed in rags, limping along, stumbling and stuttering… but has glorious future

Eph. 5:27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

in her spotless, unwrinkled, holy future she will be reflection of the riches and beauty and splendor of God, displaying glory of God in every aspect

no wonder Paul would “consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Rom. 8:18

Let us keep glories of next life and Savior with whom we will share it always in view. God grant that as we live with eyes fixed on Christ and Celestial City, we will be useful instruments for him – making most of every moment he gives us, doing our part to bring others with us to that eternal home.

New Heaven, New Earth

Rev. 21:1-8

These two final chapters of Revelation the part we’ve been waiting for! Don’t forget God promises blessing for reading entire book, not just 2 chapters. First 20 are vitally necessary for proper understanding and appreciation of last 2.

Second important point – “The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience.” LBCF I.1 God has told us in his word all we need to know about heaven. What God has said is indisputable and unable to mislead the hearer. If you want to know the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth about heaven, go to God’s word the Bible, not your local bookstore or NetFlix. Then bring your conceptions of heaven into accord with the Bible, compare all you hear about heaven with what Bible says and reject what conflicts or goes beyond God’s word.

Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged includes some 470,000 entries. Less than 15,000 used in Bible, yet we struggle with precision. Use words heaven, hell, earth, universe to mean different things, have mental picture corresponding to each. Often think of heaven / earth as distinct places, exclusive of one another – earth where we live, heaven where God lives and Christian goes when he/she dies. Heaven where will spend eternity with God, earth… not quite sure about that! Then throw in Paradise, Hades, Sheol, Abraham’s bosom and your eyes begin to glaze. Trust your eyes don’t glaze, that you gain richer understanding of what awaits Christ’s church described here in ch. 21-22.

As we come to our text, we move from this age to the next – former days before Christ, latter days after Christ of present finite age, now looking at the next age that will be without end. See the place, the purpose, and the plan God has in store for those who are his.

A. the place v.1-2

finally here – read Isa. 65:17-18 – paradigm shift, radical change in framework for life and circumstances

language that goes back to very beginning – first heavens and earth – Hebrew idiom for universe:

“in the beginning of this age God created the universe” — “in the beginning of the next age God creates a new universe”

first universe created by God’s authoritative command from nothing in six days and all very good… but with potential for evil

new universe created by God with no potential for evil – similar, perhaps same means God will use when bodies are resurrected

universe like God’s people “will be set free from its bondage to decay” (Rom 8:21) – creation waiting its redemption, too

whatever effect sin and resulting curse had on stars and planets, rest of creation beyond our earth, will be removed

new heaven

characteristic of first universe: distinction between where mankind lives and where God/angels live – occasionally God/angels cross barrier, man is not free to do so

even before sin entered world, Adam and Eve lived on earth, not in heaven – God walked with them, he also disappeared from sight

wherever it is, however it works, life in present heaven different from here – Jesus only one there with a body, God’s will done there absolutely

on rare occasion, God permits sight into heaven: Stephen, Paul, John – Jesus said: “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” (John 3:13)

no longer boundary between heaven and earth

a sense in which heaven comes to earth: God present with his people without barriers to hinder sight and fellowship

new earth

restored from consequences of both Fall/curse, God’s judgment(s) incl. Flood, depredations of sinful man

earth has already taken bunch of hits, not from asteroids or space junk – the process of decay, messed up behavior of weather and climate, rearranging of surface from Flood

then everything mankind has done – dig up dirt here, pile it up there; dam this river to empty that lake and fill this one

every last trace of sin/Curse will be gone, not present in new earth – even better, will be renewed in such way that no potential or possibility for sin to ever corrupt it

no longer any sea: place for dragon to hide, source of what disturbs God’s people

seas, as in oceans, often viewed negatively in Bible – hindrance to deliverance (Red Sea), place of storm and tempest (Jonah, Paul) in Revelation the Dragon’s abode

frightening, disheartening to people… but most of all, name given to huge bowl made for Solomon’s temple: bronze Sea – where priests symbolically washed their impurities/sins away

if there are oceans in new earth, will have nothing evil or threatening or fearful associated with them

new city

true city of God (in contrast to city of man) – is just as fit a habitation for church as she is fit bride for Christ

pictured both as the bride of Christ and dwelling place for bride – another indication that life in next age will be different

categories like in / with / among will have different significance then – God dwelling in his people, with his people, among his people

B. the purpose v.3-4

new worship

like never-before enjoyed – God living visibly with perfectly righteous people in perfect place designed for worship

in tabernacle, then Solomon’s temple, glory of God hidden behind thick veil in Holy of Holies, seen only by high priest

even glory of Incarnate Son of God present in 1st century temple a pale shadow of this – his divine glory then hidden from view

true, saints in God’s presence worship him now, but with limitations – this worship in new universe will have no limitations, no hindrances

God’s people in God’s immediate presence worshiping him and receiving blessing from him in perfect purity

no need for temple walls to keep sin at bay, God’s glory hidden from those who would be consumed by it – all walls will be down

will be continuous fellowship – God living immediately and intimately among his people – worshiping God, receiving blessing 24/7

new experience

Ada M – 50 long hard miserable years – general character of life, common lot in this age/universe for all mankind

sorrow no respecter of persons – each can quickly think of numerous things that cause genuine grief

death comes to all, whether saved or lost – and manner of death not decided on basis of eternal destiny

many times believers experience greater pain, shed more tears – are more sensitive to more things thanks to sanctifying work of Holy Spirit

anything that causes pain, death or sorrow removed – not simply insulated from it, will no longer exist in new earth

all those are essentially result of sin’s entry into world, corruption caused by sin passed down through generations

are limited to believer’s experience in this universe – will not be present in any form at any time in new universe

C. the plan v.5-8

fullfillment

God’s plan is to carry out all his promises, bring everything decreed for this age / start of next to completion… and will do so

but what about all those promises made in OT that don’t seem to have been fulfilled yet? remember to whom were made

Gal. 3:16Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.”

promises made to Abraham… and to Christ – and remember what Jesus said about his kingdom – is not of this world

many of those promises could never reach total fulfillment in this universe – can only be achieved in new universe

his words true and faithful because God is true and faithful

as unbelievable as all this might seem, can take as absolutely reliable – is God who declares its authenticity, speaking from place of authority, his throne

full restoration

all things newly made

all universe, even to remotest corners, and all mankind who will inhabit new earth remade to be suitable for one another

includes full healing – finally fit to drink from water of life

tree of life accessible to first parents… until sin – then made off-limits, guarded by cherubim with flaming sword (Gen. 3:24)

nothing in saints as newly re-made that would make that a bad thing – will in every aspect be perfectly suitable for eternal life w/o compromise of any kind

and… everything needed for our full satisfaction will be present and supplied – God among us will not simply give water, will be water of life supplied freely from its very source

full inheritance

because of union with the Firstborn Son, heir according to the promise Gal. 3:29And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Matt. 25:34“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

is an inheritance that in its fullness is reserved for new universe where saints will be able to enjoy it completely

full relief

from all that tempts or harms us – both people and practices

this statement both a blessing/guarantee and stern warning – nothing contrary to God’s holy nature will be allowed in his presence or presence of his people

will be absolutely nothing to disturb peace and purity of our new home

Is serious and weighty message given to apostle John here – one of great hope and encouragement to those who belong to Christ. The God who sits on the throne declares ​”He who overcomes shall inherit all these things”. Same God also declares those who persist in sinful rebellion and die in their sins face an eternity of just torment. We, people of God, must persevere in faithful dependence on Christ, staying loyal and faithful to him in all circumstances, no matter how difficult. Must also as God gives opportunity warn others to flee the wrath to come, finding refuge in holy God who receives all who come to him by faith.

 

Final Battle, Final Judgment

Rev. 20:7-15

Said before, will say again – a far more reliable guide to understanding and interpreting the Bible is the Bible, not the newspaper. Apostle John used prophets of OT, not Patmos Times as source material for his descriptions. As John saw visions God presented to him, he wrote down what he saw in terms of OT pictures. By one count 278 out of 404 verses in Revelation make one or more references to OT themes, mainly from Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah. Means that understanding those books plus tabernacle/temple imagery is indispensable to proper grasp of Revelation.

From this point in Revelation onward, are looking at end of this age, then next age. How will this age come to an end, what takes place then, what can we expect our existence in next age to be like – topics John has yet to address. Perhaps most surprising – much of what John describes here presented as final fulfillment of some mind-bending OT prophecies. Ezekiel speaks of Gog and Magog, a temple of stunning grandeur and dimensions where God will dwell with his people forever in the city named Yahweh Shammah, The LORD is there. Isaiah prophesied of a new heaven and new earth that will remain and old heaven/earth remembered no more. Will get to those themes as we continue study.

Now, the end — final battle and final judgment. How we will know it is approaching, what we can expect our Triumphant King to accomplish, and what our place in all this is.

A. approach of the end v.7-9a

here is what binding has prevented – would have assembled for battle earlier if possible! (see also Rev. 16:13-16; 17:14; 19:19)

binding of Satan has also effectively restrained his allies – they cannot be as evil as if taken off the leash

last secondary action before end – releasing restraints on Satan and his activity

remember his primary target: Christ’s church wherever it is found; his intent: destroy it – his anger building for 2000 years, only one thing will satisfy

will use every available means to deceive unbelievers to buy in to his agenda – convincing them is in their best interests to do his bidding

read 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 – note his resources: has real power, performs false signs and wonders, wicked deception

wows unbelievers to think he has all necessary credentials, is worthy to be followed, they fall for his lies

deceives the nations

Gog and Magog – representative of earthly power aligned to destroy OT people of God, described by Ezekiel chapter 38ff

these are last earthly enemies of Christ and his church, a countless number allied together to make war on the saints

scope of assault

enemies worldwide assemble to make attempt on “the camp of the saints” – not just one or two nations, essentially all unbelievers

use variety of means to try to prevail – political, economic, legislative – however pressure can be brought against church

political rhetoric from government and academic leaders – using inflammatory language against Christians and Biblical principles

economic policies to oppress believers – taxes that penalize, policies that if followed require violation of conscience

laws and penalties intended to destroy Christians – think blasphemy/apostasy laws, hate speech/crimes, loss of constitutional guarantees

ultimately will use force where God permits to imprison or kill any who remain opposed Satanic agenda

when will he be loosed? or has he already been?

must take global perspective as things really are – not limited to personal experience, what media outlets have for top stories

and… must look for other evidences too – disruptions to other parts of created order increasing to intensity previously unknown

answer to question – perhaps; do know for certain we are 2000 years closer than John… also know God is still the same

remember how Revelation starts: “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.” (Rev. 1:17)

quickly followed by message to Smyrna: “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)

B. Second Coming v.9b-10

cp. previous descriptions – read Rev. 6:12-17; 11:19; 16:9, 20-21

no need to repeat in ch. 20 what has already been written – when that day comes (only God knows the date) will destroy enemies, deliver his people from harm

as before, is clear who does the fighting – is fire from God, wrath of God, judgment of God that brings this age to an end

God’s people, whether have previously died or still alive on earth, are only bystanders, witnesses to what King Jesus does

is God’s fight with his enemies, is God who secures the victory, is God who receives all praise and glory for what he accomplished

is clear this is time we’ve been waiting for

when it comes, all those who are objects of God’s judgment respond with cursing and blaspheming God, refusal to repent

will continue to do so for all eternity – if fire and hail does not bring repentance, fires of hell won’t either… esp. w/o Holy Spirit

this what makes eternal punishment just – the lost keep sinning, they rightfully continue to be punished

now is devil’s turn

devil, Satan, dragon, deceiver – finally sent to his eternal doom, lake of fire and brimstone, never to trouble saints again

important note: Satan not the prison warden, is one of the inmates; God is warden, meting out punishment he deems appropriate

C. judgment v.11-13

previously seen different perspectives on run-up to final judgment – now, at last, here judgment is described

no exceptions… everyone will appear – small and great, sea / death / hades gave up their dead

some try to make Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10) separate from Great White Throne Judgment – universal witness of NT is that Christ is the Judge and there is a resurrection

John 5:28-29“Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voiceand come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”

the books and the book (figuratively representing God’s all-encompassing knowledge)

if we could look in books might see – names of all people from “every tribe, language, people, and nation” entered, deeds listed in all their awful detail

yet notice: many names with black line after line of terrible deeds, different names with line after line of red – some a red line, others red words

first sort of names only found in the books, second sort found in the book, the Book of Life

every black line of words represents deeds to be judged, deeds for which sinner has taken full responsibility by refusing God

otoh, every red line represents deeds covered by the precious blood of Christ, red words those good works he has done thru us

for unbeliever, this will be time when their deeds will be judged, found sinful and unacceptable to God, and condemned

for believer, this is time when deeds will be judged, found righteous and acceptable to God, and rewarded

unbelievers appear before throne dressed in filthy rags of their own righteousness, totally unable to please God, with works done for self and rejected by God

believers stand there dressed in white robes of Christ’s righteousness, their sinful deeds judged on Good Friday and covered by blood, their good works purified and made acceptable by blood

for believer’s name to be written in Book of Life requires penalty for sin must be satisfied by another – Christ at the Cross

D. victory v.14-15

see 1 Cor. 15:26 – final enemy overthrown – “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

we know by the resurrection of Christ, death can have no power over believer – yet… is still part of human experience, for now

when that Great Day comes, death and place of the dead sent away to trouble the saints no more – everything that has corrupted this present world utterly removed, forever

this earth and heaven, this universe fled from face of Judge, wicked consigned to place of eternal torment, what about righteous? what comes next? – come next week!

E. meanwhile…

if world really is getting worse, especially our piece of it, how should enemies of God live?

let your fear of God’s judgment cause you to repent – is still time, opportunity to hear and embrace truth of the Gospel

Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” (Rev. 14:7)

at its most basic, elemental level eternal Gospel is (1) fear God, (2) give glory to God, (3) worship your Creator, because judgment is certain

if world really is getting worse, especially our piece of it, how should we as people of God live? – confident anticipation

confident that, through whatever world and Satan throw our way, Lord Jesus walks beside us, strengthening us, leading us home

anticipation of day “when the books are opened, we need not fear. In that great day, Christ’s perfect obedience is credited to us, and his shed blood has washed away all our sins. The book will say that we are without sin and perfectly obedient! And because of Jesus Christ, God will say to us, “well done, good and faithful servant, come and share your master’s happiness!” Poythress

 

1000 Years, 2 Views

Revelation 20:1-6

Lots of people have wrong-headed ideas about Bible prophecy. Basically two kinds of people: those obsessed with prophecy and figuring out signs and timelines, those who don’t see how prophecy applies to present circumstances. What they miss is: great thrust of prophecy from Genesis 3:15 on – how God would carry out his redemptive purpose in Christ Jesus. The one in prophetic spotlight, center stage is Christ, not Antichrist. Emphasis on what God is doing to bring people to Christ, what Christ has done and is doing to establish and rule his kingdom, what Christ’s people have to anticipate and Christ’s enemies have to fear.

Three statements of Jesus provide good overview of these times in which we live:

Matt. 16:18I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

John 14:2I go to prepare a place for you.”

John 14:3I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

Certainly are hints in OT of what is yet to come, clearest view here in Revelation. This what really keeps from getting discouraged down in the trenches – looking to Christ as he is portrayed here, the triumphant King, victorious over all his enemies, bringing his church with him to ultimate victory… forever!

This one of more divisive portions of Bible, source of conflict among Christians, ought not to be! Will seek not to perpetuate conflict; rather proclaim plain truth of God’s word in its immediate and larger context. What John describes here is one sweep of time and what is happening in two different spheres.

A. context

how this section meshes with surrounding text

recapitulation / repetition instead of succession – “recapitulation: That is to say, the structure of the book is such that it returns at the opening of each of its sections to the first advent, and gives in the course of each section a picture of the whole interadvental period – each successive portraiture, however, rising above the previous one in the stress laid on the issue of the history being wrought out during its course.” Warfield

cp. Rev. 20:9-10 with

Rev. 6:12-17 end of seals: “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!”

Rev. 11:15-19 end of trumpets: “Your wrath has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged”

Rev. 14:14-20the angel …gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”

Rev. 16:17-21 end of bowls: “ Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath”

Rev. 19:11-21He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God”

in chapter 20, once more see whole sweep of human existence from First to Second Advent ending with final judgment as fierce wrath of God poured out on rebellious sinners

if this vision ends with same final judgment as previous visions, would be logical to think might begin at same time as others

B. Satan bound on earth v.1-3

opens with vision of “binding of Satan”, the dragon, first of unholy counterfeit trinity – impostor attempting to take place of Father

knowing what dragon wants to achieve, is tremendous encouragement: somehow he is restrained, does not have free rein to carry out destructive purpose

timing

Matthew 12:28-29 Christ has bound the strong man – rebuking Pharisees: equating his casting out demons by Spirit of God with presence of the kingdom of God and binding Satan

Luke 10:17-19 Satan’s fall “like lightning from heaven” coincides with effectual preaching of the Gospel by the Seventy

John 12:31-32 Satan cast out from the earth (cast into the pit) by Christ’s death – declared by Christ to be so and that he would by his death draw all men to himself

Hebrews 2:14-15 Satan rendered powerless by death of Christ – “through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil”

purpose

Luke 10:17-19 the Gospel has freedom to spread – each time sinner comes to Christ, Satan loses territory, falls from heaven

consider how ineffective Israel was in spreading Gospel – barely penetrated surrounding culture in 1400 years; since Satan bound, nearly circled globe in similar span of time

2 Thessalonians 2:9-11 limit delusion of the lost

when lawless one comes, near the end, will deceive with “power, signs, and lying wonders with unrighteous deception among those who perish”

is not only Satan who is bound, enemies of Christ and his church limited in their ability to harm or destroy

nature

not literal chains and locks and seals – remember, is apocalyptic literature, and… Satan is angel, spirit being

is real restraint by power of almighty God, limiting Satan’s power and effect

keep in mind: shackled prisoner, chains/handcuffs/leg irons, is not immobilized or silenced

“The devil is limited by the chain of the sovereignty of a reigning Saviour. There is a curtailment of Satan’s influence, a limitation imposed on his kingdom by the exaltation of Jesus Christ. The great chains of the blood of Christ and his session at the right hand of God effectually curtail the activities of Satan.” Geoff Thomas

C. saints rule in heaven v.4

location

not until Rev. 22:1-3 that throne comes to earth, the Holy City on the new earth

reign of saints with Christ coincides with binding of Satan, iow, now… for 1000 years, a long yet limited period of time

not a surprise: Matthew 16:21-23 further fleshed out John 18:33-36

started telling disciples he would die; they protested, messing with their kingdom plans; told Peter, “Get behind me Satan” – rebuked him for not setting his mind “on the things of God, but on the things of men”

Pilate’s question: are you King of the Jews? Jesus’ answer: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight”

was because Christ did not set up an earthly kingdom Jewish leaders convinced he was a blasphemer – their hope so strongly in Messiah who would be their earthly ruler could not recognize Jesus as true Messiah

thrones

Rev. 3:21 sharing in reign of Christ over his kingdom – don’t know what it all signifies, but those who overcome sit with Christ

1 Cor. 6:2-3 wonder what loved ones who died in the Lord are doing? it’s right here – judging the world and judging angels

agreeing with and affirming Christ in his just and righteous rule over his kingdom that spans heaven and earth

occupants

those who have died in physical dimension of kingdom, raised to life in spiritual dimension… God’s presence

to lose life in domain of beast not a disaster or defeat – death in reality is passport to next stop on way to final destination

righteous dead whose souls presently live and rule with Christ

those who did not worship the beast, did not live according to his principles and mandates, iow had mark of Christ

promises kept

2 Tim. 2:12If we endure, We shall also reign with Him.”

role-reversal

Jesus’ promise/declaration “I will build my church and even the gates of hell will not prevail against it” – here is how

“Defeating Christians is impossible. Even when demonic forces rage and strut and do their utmost, they only succeed in establishing Christians in positions of real power!” Poythress

rest from “earthly” labors

Heb. 4:9-11There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.”

Rev. 6:11rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren …was completed.”

Rev. 7:14-17 devoted to heavenly service: “before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple”

Rev. 14:13 “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord… Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors”

D. first resurrection v.5-6

1 Cor. 15:20-23 further participation in “first resurrection” of Christ, culminates in bodily resurrection at his coming

made alive at regeneration, made more alive in intermediate state, made most alive at his coming

only those who are holy participate – those who are “priests of God and of Christ, and reign with him” – Christ allows no pretenders to share his throne

subject to first (physical) death, not subject to second death (eternal consignment to hell and God’s wrath)

promise of blessing: those who overcome receive what has been promised them

see Rev. 2:11, 26; 3:5, 12, 21 – will not be hurt by second death; given authority over the nations; clothed in white garments; name of God, the city of God, Christ’s own new name; sit with Christ on his throne

How do we live now? In light of what awaits us. Remember Jesus’ rebuke to Peter: “you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Must be mindful of the things of God, that what might appear to be defeat here and now is in reality victory, bringing us closer to day when number of our fellow-servants and brothers will be complete.

Do not need to be afraid. Can live confidently, certain of Christ’s protecting care. Whether we experience first death or not, next step for us when leaving this life: face to face with Christ our Savior. Not true for all – many will come face to face with Christ their Judge. What about you? your loved ones? Since the strong man is bound, we can fearlessly declare the Gospel, knowing God will make it effectual to bring sinners to salvation. May God use us as his instruments to bring others to Christ, that when they meet him face to face it will be as Savior rather than Judge.