This Far and No Farther

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My Musings – “He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them.” And the list goes on and on.  God is sovereign (possessing supreme or ultimate power). Kingdoms rise and fall at His bidding. He tells the seas this far you may go and no further.  I suspect He has also set limits on how far man may go.  We may think that the world is out of control, or that global warming has doomed us, but God is still sovereign – this far you may go and no farther.

In the days of Noah, the inclination of man was only evil all the time.  Talk about out of control.  Yet God finally said, you’ve gone far enough and “cleansed” the world with the flood, leaving only Noah (the last righteous man) and his family.  God’s remnant.  Perhaps we are reaching God’s limit once again.  This time the judgement will be final, purified by fire, and only the elect (saved), His remnant will survive to enjoy eternal life.

My Advice – Make sure you are part of the remnant.  Accept Christ.

Have You Heard The News?

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2 Kings 19:25 – “Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – When we think that the world is spinning out of control, we need to remember who has the ultimate control.  Nothing takes Him by surprise.  The “unexpected” cannot change what He ordained and planned in days of old.  Perhaps what seems to be things out of control are things He planned and ordained long ago.  Perhaps the time is growing short and the “labor pains” are increasing in intensity and frequency.  We do not know the day or hour (only the Father knows), but we can know when the time “is near, right at the door.”  “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Matthew 24:34, NIV 1978)  Are we the generation that will see all these things?  Maybe.  Long ago He ordained the return of His Son.  In days of old He planned it.  He will most certainly bring it to pass.

My Advice – Watch for it (see Matthew Chapter 24).  But more importantly, be ready for it.  Are you ready?

The Day Will Come

2 Peter 3:3&10First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – The promise will be fulfilled. The scoffers may cause many to stop looking and to be less vigilant in their expectation. It is when the guard is down and he is unexpected that the “thief” comes.

My Advice – Do not be dismayed when people say such things. It is not an indication that Jesus is not returning, rather it is a sign that the day is rapidly approaching.

Terrible Times at the Last

2 Timothy 3:1There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – It is a bit sobering to go down this list and realize how descriptive it is of the times we live in today. It is also interesting that when describing how terrible the last days will be, he did not focus on war, pestilence, natural disaster, plagues, etc…. Rather he focused on the human condition.

My Advice – This is a laundry list of the ways not to be. The best way to avoid turning into any of these things is to focus on the last item and make sure that is what we are- a lover of God.

Whatever You Do, Do Not Forget This One Thing

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2 Peter 3:3-4First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (NIV 1984)

The Mayan calendar is an ancient calendar system that rose to fame in 2012, when a “Great Cycle” of its Long Count component came to an end, inspiring some to believe that the world would end on December 21, 2012. The media hype and hysteria that ensued was later termed the 2012 phenomenon.  Of course, the predictions did not come true—just like hundreds of other doomsday prophecies that fizzled out in the past. (1)

(1) http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/mayan.html

2 Peter 3:8-10But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come… (NIV 1984)

My Musings – The world did not end in 2012, “just like hundreds of other doomsday prophecies that fizzled out in the past.”  But we have come to the end of my “Studies in Revelation” series.  I hope you found it somewhat enlightening.  There is much that we still find confusing and do not understand.  Perhaps we will understand more as the day approaches.  For even while Jesus told us that the day or the hour was not for us to know, He nevertheless instructed us to keep watch and be alert for the signs that His return might be near.

Christendom has been waiting and watching for over 2,000 years now and He still has not returned.  As a result, many have become scoffers saying ““Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?”   They have relegated the Lord’s promise to the myth of the Mayan calendar and countless other false prophecies of the past.  An empty promise that fizzled.

But Peter, in his second epistle, explained why the Lord might delay (He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance),  and that delay does not mean slowness as we understand slowness (the day of the Lord will come).  The timing of HIs coming is uncertain, the fact that He will come is not.

My AdviceHe [Jesus] who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20, NIV 1984)

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My approach was to try and not be too dogmatic, but rather to present the differing viewpoints in as objective of a manner as I could, although I am sure my own bias has crept in here and there. I also wanted to avoid idle speculation on some of the more confusing imagery in the book (to not stain at a gnat and swallow a camel), choosing to focus more on the overriding theme. I am sure I wandered into the weeds here and there, however.

As you read this book, I urge you to focus more on the “blessed hope” of His certain return, and less on the manner of His return. Many got it wrong on His first advent, and we do not want to be among those who get it wrong on His second advent. Watch for the signs, but do not keep your gaze so fixed on the clouds that you lose sight of the work He left us to do until His glorious appearing.

My wish for all who read this book (but more importantly the underlying book of Revelation) the blessings that are promised in the Revelation 22:7.

“Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.” (NIV 1984)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final

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FINAL INVITATION“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” (Revelation 22:16-17)

You All Come – This gracious all-encompassing invitation provides a measure of cheer after the gloomy picture of the doomed and the damned. The warnings against the dragon and the two beasts with all their dreadful consequences are meant to deter men from falling prey to the devil’s devices. The door leading to God’s mercy still stands wide open today, for the end has not yet come. The series of John’s visions are over. The future consummation of all things has been pictured as if it were a present reality. Now He falls back to the present age before He saw the visions of the end. Now, for a time, all who hear and see are still invited to come and drink of the water of life that continues to be freely offered by the Lamb of God.(1) This is a wonderful invitation that is extended to every individual from every generation up to the coming of Christ. Those who recognize their need and realize that Christ is the provider of salvation are exhorted to come while there is yet time before the judgment falls and it is too late. As the Scriptures make clear, the gift of eternal life (here called “the water of life”) is free. It has been paid for by the death of Christ on the cross and is extended to all who are willing to receive it in simple faith.(2)

Root, Offspring and Morning Star – God the Father is the root of David. Jesus the Son, is David’s offspring.(3) The morning star probably alludes to Numbers 24:17, which pictures the Messiah as descended from Jacob (Israel) and destined to reign and crush the enemies of God’s people.(4) The morning star that ushered in the day of grace in the beginning of this present dispensation will usher in the everlasting day of glory at its close.(5) Symbolically, the star was the ancient emblem of sovereignty (see Numbers 24:17; Matthew 2:2), and was therefore the fitting and necessary complement of the dreadful attributes that had gone before. For the King came not only to judge and punish, but also to illuminate and bring cheer (compare 2 Peter 1:19).(6)

The invitation is confirmed by the joint testimony of the Spirit of God (that lives in all the true members of the Church) and the bride (which is the Church).(7) In response to the voice of Jesus just heard,(8) the Spirit and the bride join in testifying to the truth of the gospel.(9)

FINAL WARNING – I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)

As the visions in Revelation conclude, a warning is directed against anyone perverting it. The warning, while not specifically directed at the rest of the New Testament or the Bible as a whole, may be equally true there also.(10) The words of a divinely instituted covenant or book are not to be trifled with or altered (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:5–6). They often include curses against those who break them. Such claims of completeness or inspiration of books were often made in later times to uphold their authority or to secure them against later editors inserting their own ideas—a practice common in books that were not treated as sacred Scripture or otherwise inspired writings.(11) In John’s day, books were copied by hand, and the copyist might have been tempted to edit (add or subtract) or alter the material. Even today, people add their theories, traditions and heresies to God’s Word or strike from it whatever does not fit into their scheme of theology. Satan loves for men to add to the Word or take from the Word. But to do so is to invite judgment.(12) Eve added to the Word of God (Genesis 3:3), which opened the door for the serpent to take away from what the Lord had said (Genesis 3:4). Ultimately this led to the fall and a curse. The bookend effect of Revelation looking back to Genesis infers that this curse for altering Scripture should be viewed as the last Biblical word about tampering with God’s Word,(13) as many are now doing.

FINAL WORDSHe who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen. (Revelation 22:20-21)

Here Jesus is again introduced as speaking. He is primarily brought in as the “expert” witness to supplement the final attestation of John. At the same time, He indirectly appears as a witness for the whole Apocalypse. He sums up His testimony in the all-corroborating and all-embracing affirmation: “Yes, I am coming soon.” John, in turn, replies to the Word of the Lord with a grand and simple prayer: “Amen; come, Lord Jesus.(14) The phrase “Come, Lord Jesus” is the Greek equivalent to the Aramaic expression Maranatha (Our Lord, come – see 1 Corinthians 16:22). This became the rally cry of the early Church, particularly as it began facing persecution under the Roman Empire.(15) It was an acknowledgment by early believer’s in universal recognition of Jesus’ deity,(16) long before any Church council or creed affirmed it.

John’s benediction of grace may seem an unusual ending for the apocalypse that details so much of God’s wrath. But it is suitable for one that was meant to be read in the churches (Revelation 1:3).(17) Elsewhere, grace is a typical benediction, especially in the Paul’s letters (see Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 16:23; Galatians 6:18).(18) For those who believe that Christ in His first coming provided salvation, there is the wonderful promise of His coming again to bring full and final deliverance and reward. As the book began by introducing a revelation of Jesus Christ, so it ends with the same thought that He is coming again.(19)

As we conclude these studies in Revelation, it is might be helpful to remember what the very first verse of the book says about it. It is a revelation that God gives to His Church, a revelation of Jesus Christ. The greatest purpose of the book is to show us Jesus Christ. A suffering Church does not need a detailed forecast of future events. It needs a vision of the exalted Christ to encourage the weary and persecuted believers. We see Jesus Christ standing in the midst of the churches. We see Him portrayed as the Lamb of God who died for the sins of the world. We see Him as one who rules and reigns. He is the one who takes His Church to be with Him in the new heavens and the new earth, where we will worship Him forever and ever.(20) The Church must have ears to hear what the Spirit has said (Revelation 22:16–17). The people of God must, by His grace (Revelation 22:21), persevere in the hour of tribulation (when the gates of hell appear to be prevailing), knowing that Jesus will soon return in triumph.(21) Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

The Beginning…
Hope To See You There!!!

References

  1. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 22:17). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  2. 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.
  3. Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2485). Peabody: Hendrickson.
  4. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 22:16). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  5. 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.
  6. Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 460). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  7. Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2485). Peabody: Hendrickson.
  8. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 22:17). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  9. Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2485). Peabody: Hendrickson.
  10. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 22:18). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  11. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 22:18–19). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  12. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 858). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  13. 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 (p. 1918). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  14. Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moore, E., Craven, E. R., & Woods, J. H. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Revelation (p. 399). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  15. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 22:20). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  16. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 22:20). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  17. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 22:21). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  18. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 22:21). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  19. 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. 990). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  20. Sloan, R. B. (1998). The Revelation. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 680). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
  21. 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.

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.