Friday, August 23, 2019

Revelation 10-11~ Day 115~Lot's of symbolism!!

My husband sits across the room from me in the morning and does his reading while I do mine.  I am one day ahead in the reading plan, which works out perfectly for us because he has become my editor!  He does his reading and then re reads the blog.  He catches my mistakes on what I posted that morning and I fix them right away before others get to their reading.  If you ever catch mistakes in my writing...he probably didn't have time to do his reading that morning! 😛

Anyway, he sat down today and said, "Revelation is so hard to understand!"  Believe me, I get it!!  It is hard to understand, in part, because John uses symbolic images to get the messages across to his readers. Some examples include, the dragon, representing Satan, an earthquake symbolizing God's judgement and a three different female characters to describe Babylon, the 'bride' of the Lamb and the nation of Israel.

We come to another interesting use of symbolism in today's reading when we read John being instructed to "measure the temple of God, along with the alter and count those who worship there." (11:1). My commentary pointed out that these instructions paralleled Ezekiel's vision (Ez. 40:35), in which the measuring of the temple represents God's possession and protection of his people.  Well, that's good to know!!  It's not a building....it's symbolism.  So the point of the counting is to show God possesses and protects his own.  Though his own may be conquered physically (Rev. 13:7), they are sealed by God (7:3-5) and cannot be conquered spiritually.

I was wondering why God would want John to measure out the temple.  The explanation of the measuring as being symbolic makes sense now!
Thanks God, for giving those who had understanding, the desire to write commentaries!  It definitely helps me!! Thank yo also for your assurance you have given us in Revelation that I am yours, you protect me and you ultimately win the battle against Satan!  

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Revelation 8-9~ Day 114~ Spiritual warfare can result in death!!

Have you ever had a day that was real difficult and thought, "Man! This must be spiritual warfare! Satan is trying to get at me!"
I have had many of those days and often think of Paul's words when he says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians. 6:12).

Since I am aware of the spiritual battle, I know how to fight it!  I make sure I am wearing my helmet and I pick up my sword! (Eph. 6:17).  How sad for those who aren't Christians!!  They can't fight back!  They don't know how! For them, I cringe when I read, 1 Peter 5:8, "Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour."
😳
Needless to say, it's frightening to read Revelation, thinking of those who don't have the seal of Jesus, therefore are at the mercy of radical spiritual warfare!
"So, the four angels who were prepared for the hour, day, month, and year were released to kill a third of the human race." (Rev. 9:16).
Oh my!!
Yet, reading about spiritual battles isn't frightening for the one who has the proper equipment and "seal" in place!  It's so peaceful to remember, "You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1 John 4:4)

As with all trials caused by Satan, God can use them to draw people closer to Him or turn them to Him.  How utterly sad to read, however, that these people were so hard hearted they could not see God drawing them. "The rest of the people, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands..." (9:20)

I pray that the people I know who have not accepted Jesus yet, will not become hard hearted like these we are reading about who can't see God drawing them to himself.  Lord, please open the eyes of those I know, who don't know you, to the spiritual battle that is happening all around.   Let them see the battle for their soul and turn to you for the help you offer!


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Revelation 6-7~Day 113~ The wrath of the Lamb.

And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come! And who is able to stand." (6:16-17)

I couldn't help but think about the singer I mentioned the other day who was "losing his faith" because he couldn't reconcile how a loving God could send so many people to hell (Day 110).  I think our Christian culture has done a good job teaching people about the love of Jesus.  Yet, the teaching of Jesus is not complete if his righteous and just side is not taught as well.  That is why it is so important to read Revelation once in a while (as well as the Old Testament)!

My Bible's commentary had a great little side note that answered the question, "Does God's wrath contradict his love?"  I wanted to share their answer with you:

"The revelation of God's love necessitates the revelation of God's wrath.  In his desire to redeem mankind for Himself, God sacrificed His Son, allowing Him to be humiliated, beaten, and crucified.  The earth-dwellers who reject His love spurn this sacrifice of God's Son.  In light of their rejection, the wickedness of their sins remains upon them, and the wrath of God is kindled against them. Although the wrath of God against sin has already been revealed in Jesus, the great day of God's wrath, called "the day of the Lord" in the Old Testament is still to come."

I think that was so well put!  I gotta remember that answer the next time I hear someone ask how a loving God be so harsh with his judgement!


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Revelation 4-5~ Day 112~ Again, one Kingdom!

I always tend to read Revelation like I'm watching a movie with flash back scenes, future scenes and lots of out of this world visual effects!
Chapters 4 and 5 are mind blowing, showing the awesomeness of  God's "throne room".  Flashes of lightening, rumblings and peals of thunder (vs 4:5), how incredible!!  This scene occurs after the work Christ did on the cross (5:6).  Because of that work, the celebration of the king is better than any event coordinator could have conceived!!

So, I'm in the middle of reading about this glorious scene, and notice something again, the same thing that stood out to me in yesterday's reading, "...you purchased people of God by your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth." (5:10)

There it is again!  One kingdom made up of all believers!  Not two special groups of people- just one big one.  I think Jesus, through John's writing is reminding Jewish believers, back in 95AD (when it was thought this was written) that the formerly exclusive elect, the Israelites, needed to have a paradigm shift as to who the elect Israelites were now that Jesus had come to the earth. "People from every tribe and language and people and nation".

As one theologian put it, "The church is actually considered to be true-end time Israel, composed of  believing Jews and gentiles" (Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology).  I point this out, because in all the future reading you do, you can substitute "Christian Church" wherever you read "Israel", from now on.  That's why you may have noticed that I have often said, "I am a Jew" or "I am part of Israel".....because.....I am......and if you are a true believer....so are you!!  😇

Monday, August 19, 2019

Revelation 1-3 ~ Day 111~ Jew and Gentile believers are ONE kingdom under Jesus!

OK, here we go...the last book of our reading plan...and it'a a good one!!

Right away, two verses caught my eye because they had a repeat word in them.
"To him who loves us...and made us a kingdom, priest to his God and Father-..." (1:6)
and
"I, John, your brother and partner in the affliction, kingdom and endurance that are in Jesus..."(1:9)

What's up with that? John is stressing that those who believe that Jesus "set us free from our sins by his blood" are a group of people that make up a kingdom.....that's interesting and actually reminds my of another verse that we read just a few days ago.

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once you were not a people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (1 Peter 2:9-10)

If you remember, Peter addressed his letter to "those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia" (all those are in modern day Turkey) (1 Peter 1:1). The seven churches John was writing to, were all found in what Peter called, Asia.  Both writers were addressing all believers, Jews and Gentiles.  Isn't it interesting that both Peter and John are referring to Jew and Gentile believers alike, as one kingdom and royal priesthood?  These same titles were once exclusive to the Jews (Exodus 19:5-6, Deut. 4:20, 7:6 and Isaiah 43:20-21).

I like how one commentary put it, "The things that once exclusively belonged to Israel- their election, priesthood, and calling are now no longer the property of Israel alone.  These are now the property of every Christian, and we have them in a greater and spiritual sense." It's so important to understand that there are not two groups of people in God's love story any longer.  Everybody under the kingship of Jesus is one kingdom, Jew and Gentile alike.  Peter and John both understood this. Maybe that's why they were both trying to get that point across in their letters.....

This will be important to remember as we keep reading Revelation.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Jude ~ Day 110 ~ Help me snatch them out of the fire, Lord!

I don't mean to make light of a very sad situation, but I can't help signing to myself, lately, "....And another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust...."  🎶
Poor Marty Sampson, the worship music writer for Hillsong Worship, recently stated that his faith is "on incredibly shaky ground". He sounds like another one who has lived a lie for 30+ years (like we talked about others doing on day 107).

"Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send four billion people to a place, all ‘coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it," Marty wrote in his confession.

I think Marty should join us on reading the Bible straight through over and over. When one does the reading and the research themselves, one can see that the Bible does not contradict itself.  In addition, if one clearly understood how evil each person is and when left to their own desires becomes more and more evil (Genesis 6:5), they would understand how a just God would need to respond to that.  And after all, wasn't it because of his love that he tried to give all 4 billion a chance to be saved through his Son?
It's clear that Marty does not have a Biblical understanding of God. 😞

So, I just finished reading about Marty. and turned to Jude. Jude stated he wanted to talk about the common salvation that he shared with the readers of his note, but instead, switched gears to warn these believers to watch out for unbelievers who "crept" into their fellowship "unnoticed".  The warning goes for us, today, as well.  Watch out believers!  Even your worship leader can be an "ungodly person who turns the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." (Jude 1:3)

I love how Jude went on to say,"And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire;..."(vs. 22)  I pray that Marty has people in his life who will have mercy on him while still sharing truth, and also snatch him from the fire by being able to counter false teaching that he may be receiving.
Lord, please reveal yourself to Marty.  Let him see what a just, powerful God you are.  Help him to have a heart that continues to search for truth, and may he find you in the process. Please don't let him be another one who bites the dust! I pray this for several other people I personally know as well!!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

2 & 3 John ~ Day 109 ~ I have Truth in me!

Reading different translations often makes me get new insights to familiar verses.  It happened today when I read the first verse of today's reading!
"To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth and not only I, but also all who know the truth- because of the truth that remains in us and will be with us forever." (1&2)

I love how Jesus defined himself in John's gospel account, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6). John heard these words first hand from Jesus and knew he could use any of these descriptions interchangeably.  So, we can read the above verse like: "To the elect lady and her children whom I love through Jesus and not only I, but also all who know Jesus- because He remains in us and will be with us forever."

What hit me with this realization is that we can do the same today!  We can fill in the blank with the names Jesus used for himself.
"because of the ___________that remains in us and will be with us forever."
 (Choose: the Way, the Truth, the Light, or Jesus)
John choose to use "truth".  I love that!  But....let's think about that for a minute....do we choose to use that word?........

I have heard Christians say, "Jesus lives in me" and "I have Jesus in my heart."   Can you imagine if, instead, we said, "I have the Truth in me" and "Truth lives in me."

Let's be honest....I bet some would think...."I can't say that 😳.... that sounds a bit pretentious.  I think I will just stick with using Jesus to "fill in the blank".  "The Truth" sounds a little too prideful.  I don't want to turn anyone off from Jesus by sounding so...exclusive."

Humm...what do you think?  Am I right?.....
Yet, think how solid we would be in our thinking if we did talk like that!  Forget for a minute how it would sound to others.  Think how convinced one would be in their thinking if they went around saying, "I have the Truth in me!  Truth lives in me! Listen to me, what I am saying is true!!"

John is that confident and bold! He chose to fill in the blank with Truth.
I want to be that bold, and say, "I have Truth living in me!"  Jesus help me to be bold, like John!