No More Change

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NO MORE CHANGE Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.” “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.  (Revelation 22:11-15)

Continue On Those who do wrong and are vile are told to continue to do so, and those who do right and are holy are told to continue to do so. These exhortations have puzzled some, as they appear to encourage people to remain in their wicked state. This clearly cannot be the case. As John and Jesus point out, the time of the Lord’s return is near. If people do not heed this final prophecy from the Lord and turn from their wicked ways they will enter eternity a fallen creature. Afterwards, no change in a person’s conduct or destiny will ever again be possible.[i]

This is not an arbitrary (it follows from God’s righteous character) or a capricious (He has long delayed not willing that any should perish) judgment. It is the natural law of causality (cause and effect). One that mankind has been forewarned about and for which God has provided a remedy. No worse punishment can God lay on ungodly men than to leave them to themselves (continue to be…).

The solemn lesson is for sinful man to be converted now in what may be the brief time that is left (Revelation 22:10) before “I come” (Revelation 22:7, 12). Otherwise, he must remain unconverted forever. Sin in the eternal world will be left to its own natural consequences.[ii] Those who ignore the warnings will be left outside (outer darkness) the gates of God’s presence.[iii] The final judgments of both the wicked (rejected God’s grace) and the righteous (accepted God’s grace) will be judgments of works (“according to what he has done”). This is the joyous expectation of those who are faithful (those who wash their robes) and the fear of those who have not been faithful (everyone who loves and practices [all that is evil]).[iv]

Alpha and Omega Once again Christ is described as the Alpha and the Omega (first and last letters of the Greek alphabet). He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Christ is before all Creation and He will continue to exist after the present creation is destroyed. He is, always has been and always will be the Eternal One (Revelation 1:4, 8, 17; 2:8; 21:6).[v]

Up Next – Final Words.

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References

[i] Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 988–989). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[ii] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 604). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[iii] Dockery, D. S., Butler, T. C., Church, C. L., Scott, L. L., Ellis Smith, M. A., White, J. E., & Holman Bible Publishers (Nashville, T. . (1992). Holman Bible Handbook (p. 804). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[iv] Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 989). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[v] Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 989). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

As Long As the Earth Endures

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Genesis 8:22 –  “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – It’s been a “long” winter here in the Midwest, as a seemingly continuous cycle of heavy snow, followed by freezing rain followed by record cold spells has marked the “winter of our discontent.”  Like many other things in life, our current circumstances have a tendency to overshadow our past experiences.  For example, the last several winters have been fairly mild.  Before that, we’ve had colder weather and deeper snows.  But spring has always followed winter.  Flowers will bloom again and summer will be here once again. We’ll forget about the winter weather and begin to complain about the heat (“well, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity).  And the debate about climate change will rage once again.
We’ve been visiting my son this weekend, and our thoughts have turned to a different type of season as we reminisced about the past and about how quickly time passes. As our son enters late spring (he’s almost to the mid-point of “three-score and ten”) and we face the autumn of our life (I know it’s autumn because the “leaves” are turning color – not to vibrant reds and yellows, but to gray).
And so it goes.  The seasons of weather/climate and the seasons of life – but only “as long as the earth endures.
My Advice – Jesus admonished us about being adept at reading the weather signs but missing the signs of His return.  How much longer this earth will endure is a matter of much debate. The certainty of His return is not.  Are you ready for harvest time?

No More Mystery

NO MORE MYSTERY I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”   Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near.” (Revelation 22:8-10)

The Greek word means a revealed secret, something that was formerly hidden, but now is made clear by God’s revelation (Romans 16:25; Colossians 1:26–27).[i] Daniel was told that some of his prophecies should be “sealed until the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9) and remain a mystery (formerly hidden). John, on the other hand, was told not to seal up the words of these prophecies (now being made clear).[ii] Yet many still find the book of Revelation to be anything but clear.

The Book of Revelation was not intended to be an imponderable mystery for which no key is available. It is the Word of God, not the vague imaginations of a confused or senile and aged Apostle John. Since it was intended to describe future events, we can likely expect to see the prophecies with a great deal more clarity as events begin to unfold. The Word of God was not given to remain an obscure puzzle. It was given to be understood by those instructed by the Spirit and for whom the time is right.[iii]

The fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy was distant, while that of John’s prophecy is “near” or imminent. The New Testament is the age of grace and ushers in the time of the end and the fulfilment of all things.[iv] It is a time for mysteries to be unsealed, such as grace being extended to the Gentiles. The age of grace will someday come to an end and the Tribulation, the age of wrath, will begin.

As we have seen before, there were clearly parts of John’s revelation (and Christ’s Olivet discourse) that were meant to be understood in that generation, the things that were intended for their time. But perhaps it was meant to be more fully understood by future generations, for the things that are intended for their time (the fullness of time).[v] Revelation is clearly intended to reveal facts and events relating to and leading up to the second coming of Christ. Perhaps it is that generation that will need to understand the mystery more fully. If so, there will be no excuse for not anticipating it before it happens (“see I have already told you”), and recognizing it when it begins to happen. Thus, the viewpoint of some scholars that the Book of Revelation is an impenetrable puzzle is expressly contradicted by this and other passages.[vi] “He who has an ear, let him hear ….”

Up Next – No more change.

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References

[i] Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. (2000). In Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained (p. 337). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[ii] Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 988). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[iii] Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 988). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[iv] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 604). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[v] Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 22:10). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[vi] Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 988). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

The Tree of Life

TREE OF LIFEOn each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2b)

History of the Tree – The Tree of Life, with all its healing properties, is there. It is no longer guarded by an angel with a flaming sword, but is open to all who have overcome (Revelation 2:7).(1) Genesis 3:22 said that “man had not yet taken of the tree.” If he had done so he would have Continue reading “The Tree of Life”

The Last Vision

THE LAST VISIONThen the angel showed me… (Revelation 22:1a)

As we saw in Revelation 21, the heaven(s) that will be renewed is likely not the Heaven of God’s presence, but the heaven of human experience (the first and perhaps the second heavens). We also learned that the New Jerusalem will Continue reading “The Last Vision”

The Heirs & The Disinherited

THE HEIRSTo him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:6b-7)

Overcomers – The heirs of new earth are the overcomers of the old earth. This includes all those addressed at the end of each of the seven letters to the churches (Revelation Chapters 2 and 3) as well as the martyrs who overcome through the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11).(1) As John pointed out in his first epistle, all true believers are overcomers (1 John 5:4–5). So, this promise is not just for the spiritually elite. Because we are the children of God, we shall inherit all things.(2)

Water of Life – People living in most developed countries do not think much about water. But it was a major concern in John’s day. No doubt John himself, working in the Roman mines, knew the meaning of thirst. Tortured saints throughout the ages would certainly identify with this wonderful promise from the Lord – free and abundant living water for all.(3) As is quite evident, this refers not to physical thirst but to a desire for spiritual blessings,(4) a thirst that will be quenched.

He Will Be My Son – This is the only place in John’s writings where son is used to refer to the relationship of man to God.(5) This expresses the intimate relationship between the saints and God in the eternal state.(6) An intimacy not known since the fall.

THE DISINHERITED“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

The Overcome –In contrast to those who were overcomers (heirs of the Kingdom), Revelation 21:8 describes the people who were overcome by sin and would not trust the Lord (the disinherited). The worldly consider Christians to be losers, when in reality it is the unbelievers who are the losers.(7)

How They Are Described – Eight epithets (not an exhaustive list) are used to describe the doomed and the damned: the fearful (cowardly); the unbelieving (faithless, untrustworthy); the vile (abominable, polluted); murderers; fornicators; sorcerers (those who practice magic arts, closely connected with idolatry and magic) and; idolaters.(8) This passage is not affirming salvation by works. Rather it refers to works as an indication of whether one is saved or not. Naturally there will be many in Heaven who were once guilty of these sins (as Paul said, as some of you were) before they were converted, but who turned from them when they trusted Christ as their Savior. Though works are the evidence of salvation (good works) or lack of it (evil works), they are not the basis or ground of it. Similar lists of sins are found elsewhere in Revelation (Revelation 21:27; 22:15).(9)

The fearful are the cowardly, people who did not have the courage to stand up for Christ (see Matthew 10:32–33). The word abominable means polluted, and refers to those who indulged in sin and were thus polluted in mind, spirit, and body (2 Corinthians 7:1). The other characteristics mentioned in Revelation 21:8 need no special explanation, except to note that all of them would be true of the beast’s followers (note Revelation 17:4, 6; 18:3, 9; 19:2).(10) Note also that God puts cowards at the head of the list. When people are afraid to take a stand for Christ, they are liable to commit any kind of sin as a result. They are the fearful, or the cowards who would not confess Christ, preferring and choosing to go along with the crowd who practiced sin.(11)

Eternal Thirst – They will be with Satan and the two beasts (the anti-Christ and the false prophet) in the lake of fire and brimstone for all eternity. This is the second death (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14). These are those whose names are not written in the book of life (Revelation 20:15).

Up Next – The Holy City.

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References

  1. Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (pp. 1914–1916). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 985). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 564). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  6. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 985). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  7. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  8. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 21:8). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  9. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 985). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  10. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  11. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 856). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

A New Earth

BEHOLD I MAKE ALL THINGS NEWThen I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:1-2)

The New Earth – The original condition of the earth was affected by the curse of Adam and Eve’s sinful fall (Genesis 3:17–19). Today, the curse continues as even the scientific community generally agrees that the ecology of the earth is suffering due to the poor stewardship of man. The earth still lies in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19), a daily reminder that many of the earth’s inhabitants are living outside of fellowship with God (Ephesians 2:1, 2).

Various Bible passages (Ezra 47; Joel 3:18, 19; Amos 9:13–15; Zechariah 14:6–9) point to the coming age when the earth will be set free from its bondage to decay, a deliverance for which the whole creation is said to be “groaning” in anticipation (Romans 8:19–23). At that time, “the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). Afterwards, when “the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea,” John looked up and saw “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).(1) It will be so wonderful that the “former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17).(2)

Very little information has been provided about this new earth. There is, however, one curious fact. There will no longer be any sea. No other descriptions are given concerning the new earth, and nothing is known of its characteristics, its vegetation, color, or form. What few other references that are found in the Scripture (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; and 2 Peter 3:10–13) reveal no other details.(3) Perhaps it is sufficient to look back at the description of the earth in its original state in Genesis before for fall?

The reference to no more sea could also be a symbolic reference to the removal of evil and chaos (compare Genesis 1:2). It may also be meant to unify the earth’s inhabitants that were separated after the flood and the tower of Babel.(4) A literal view would correspond with ancient Jewish interpretations of Isaiah 65:17, which mentions heaven and earth but does not mention the sea. The symbolic view is seen by some as a reference to the evil powers earlier in Revelation 13:1.(5) If no more sea is taken literally, it does not necessarily mean no more water. It could simply indicate that the new earth will have a different arrangement as far as water is concerned. While today three fourths of our globe consist of water, this may not be the case in the eternal state. In John’s day, the sea meant danger, storms, and separation (John himself was on an island at the time separated from his flock). Thus, if taken symbolically John was giving us more than a geography lesson on the new earth.(6)

Up Next – The New Jerusalem.

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References

  1. Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (p. 647). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
  2. Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (p. 1547). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
  3. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 983). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 21:1). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  5. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 21:1). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  6. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.