Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Reading Revelation

Seven Reasons Why I Read The Book Of Revelation
R. D. Ice 4/3/2002
[with thoughts from an article by Matt Proctor]

The Written Word includes the Book of Revelation. John is a preacher writing to ordinary Christians. When we read Revelation through eyes of devotion to Christ Jesus, we strengthen our obedience and deepen our faith.

"When you read Revelation, don't ask, 'How does this help me figure out the calendar?' Rather, ask, 'How does this help me follow Christ?'" Matt Proctor

"It is only when I see evil as clearly as I should that I pray as fervently as I should. That is why I need the Book of Revelation." Matt Proctor

"It's not the big deceptions, but all the little lies we buy that eventually bring us down. That's why we must call sin of every size by its true name." Matt Proctor
“But cowards who turn away from Me, and unbelievers, and the corrupt, and murderers, and the [sexually] immoral, and those who practice witchcraft, and idol worshipers, and all liars - their doom is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is the second death.” Rev. 21:8 The Book Version

"The world will reject, but God will reward (Rev. 11:17-19)." Compare John 16:33.

When I read the Book of Revelation:

1. I approach Jesus more humbly (chapter 1). The Gospels show us the human Jesus. He is one of us and knows our weaknesses and strengths. John leans on His breast at the Last Supper.

But Rev. ch 1 shows a towering, terrifying vision of The Risen Christ huge and blazing in His Holiness! Not only is Jesus fully Man - He is fully God! He is The Boss over the Universe! Compare Col. 1:15-20.

"I saw a gold menorah candlestick with seven branches, And in the center, the Son of Man, in a robe that reached to His feet with a gold breastplate, hair a blizzard of white, Eyes pouring fire-blaze, both feet furnace-fired bronze, His voice like a roaring waterfall, His right hand holding the Seven Stars, His mouth a sharp-biting sword, His face bright like the midday sun!"

This vision seen through Jewish eyes: Jesus the Son of Man is wearing the robe of the High Priest with the gold band of a king around His chest. His hair is white, not with age, but with heavenly glory. The fire-blaze of His eyes, the feet of polished brass, and the voice of command, show great power and authority. He has authority over even death and the Hadean world of the dead. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil. 2:10-11

2. I love the church more honestly (chapter 2&3). All (local) churches fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). (Gasp). This is clear in Rev. 2&3. We have our feet of clay. BUT - Jesus still loves these churches! He loves them (and us) just as they are, commending each one (except Laodicea) for the good that is mixed in with the bad. Jesus accepts each just as they are - but He loves them too much to leave them unchanged. While the Bride of Christ has her "warts & wrinkles," the Bridegroom treats Her with tough and tender love and will not give up on Her.

"Are your ears awake? Listen to the Voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to the churches. Christ-conquerers are safe from Devil-death."

Compare Gal. 3:3; 5:22-23.

3. I enter worship more completely (chapters 4&5). "Wow! That's really all you can say when you enter the Throne-room of Heaven. You shield your eyes from dazzling light! You drop to your knees in fear and wonder! Incense fills your nostrils! A vast angelic host shakes the very foundation of the sky with their praise! The countless thundering voices reverberate in your chest! Amid all this, you are drawn irresistibly to the Figure on the Throne. HE is more glorious, more holy, more powerful, more beautiful than you ever imagined!

"They sang a new song! Worthy! yes worthy! Our God! The slain Lamb is worthy! Take the power, the wealth, the wisdom, the strength! Take the honor, the glory, the blessing! You created it all! Because You wanted it to be! Paying in the Blood of Your death You bought men and women from all over the earth! You bought them for God!"

4. I endure suffering more confidently (chapters 6-9). When the going gets tough, what do we do??? Tornadoes, sickness, floods, cancer, car wrecks - the effects of sin affect us all (Romans 8:18-21). The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride across the world. Note the White Horse leads the way. Compare Psalm 45:3-5. The Gospel of Christ conquers the world - but Satan sends war, famine pestilence,death - and lies. Yet Satan has already lost! Compare 1 John 5:1-5.

"How long, Strong God, how long, Holy and True?” “Sit back and wait, until the full number of martyrs is filled from among your fellow-servant brothers and sisters."

In chapter 7 we see and hear a vast crowd, too many to count, of believers singing praise to God! God does remember us and will save us! When the going gets tough, I can sing along with “the song of the Sealed and Saved."

"They were shouting and singing heartily! Salvation comes from our God, who sits on the throne, and from The Lamb! Amen! Praise, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might belong to our God forever and ever! Amen!"

In chapter 8 the angel adds incense to the prayers of God’s people. Peals of thunder, lightning and an earth- quake show that God did hear the prayers.

5. I speak God's truth more courageously (chapters 10&11). Preaching is not all congratulations and conversions. When John "swallows" God's message, it's bitter. When the witnesses finish speaking their testimony, they are killed! What does this all teach us - tell God's truth no matter the consequences. John doesn't write as much to instruct us in how to tell others, as to inspire us to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ with courage and boldness!

"Then I was told, Once again you must proclaim God's gospel-message about many nations, races, languages, and kings. God will complete His secret plan, as He announced to His servants, the prophets." Compare Acts 4:29-31.

6. I see evil more clearly (chapters 12-18). Satan is so sly that I often don't recognize his fingertips. John throws back the curtain of the visible world to show us reality. Materialism and pleasure-mad ways are not harmless. What sometimes looks harmless is really hellish. This world is not a playground but a battleground. And the battle is for our souls! John warns in 1 John 2:15-17, "Do not love the world. . .what the sinful self desires [lust of the flesh], what people see and want [lust of the eyes], and everything in this world that people are so proud of [the pride of life] - none of this comes from the Father." (GNT)

“How terrible, how terrible for Babylon, that great city! In one single moment God’s judgment came on her. The merchants of the world will weep and mourn for her, for there is no one left to buy their goods. She bought great quantities of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple dye, silk, scarlet cloth, every kind of perfumed wood, ivory goods, objects made of expensive wood, bronze, iron, and marble. She also bought cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle, sheep, horses, chariots, and slaves - yes, she even traded in human lives [the souls of men].” Rev. 18:10-13 The Book Version

REVELATION shows the final victory of God’s people over persecution. “I looked in the back of the Book and we win!” Basham

Persecution began very quickly. Acts 8:1 “A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church at Jerusalem, and all the believers except the apostles fled into Judea and Samaria.” The Book Version

Smyrna was the persecuted church. Note Rev. 2:10. “The devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested...”

The Church in Pergamos had a faithful martyr, Antipas (Rev. 2:13) who was killed for his faith.

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you . . .” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

“These present days of martyrdom are as brutal as any endured during the early and dark ages of the Church.” Knowles

Would you be a Christian if it cost you your job, your house, perhaps even your family???

Faith of our Fathers! living still
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
When-e’er we hear that glorious word
Faith of our Fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to Thee till death!

John wrote: “They overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:11).

7. I love Christ's Second Coming more deeply (chapters 19-22). When the world I look out upon seems to be hopeless - what do I pray? I pray the prayer that John taught: "Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:20)." The world is a place marred by sin. We are tired of famine, abortion, murder, deceit, natural disasters, cancer, death, sin, and Satan running wild through this world. Jesus is tired of it too!

Jesus will come crashing through the clouds, the angelic hosts behind Him. Time will screech to a Halt! In an instant (not some drawn out Armageddon battle), Satan and sin and death will be defeated! They will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, and New Heavens and a New Earth will be ours! And best of all, we will see our Lord - the Triune God - face to face! [1 Cor. 13:12; 2 Peter 3:11-13; Isaiah 65:17; 66:22]

On my darkest days, I turn and read the Book of Revelation and that keeps me going. And God promises you that you will be blessed (Rev. 1:3). "Blessed 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."

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was gone also. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, 'Look, the home of God is now among His people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.'" Rev. 21:1-4 The Book Version

"Look, I am coming soon, and My reward is with Me, to repay all according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes so they can enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. . . The [Holy] Spirit and the bride say, Come. Let each one who hears them say, Come. Let the thirsty ones come - anyone who wants to. Let them come and drink the water of life without charge." Rev. 22:12-13,17 The Book Version