One - most loved / hated books.
Scares the pants off.
Paint false picture - trusting Him. - Slaughters?!
Don't know of you've noticed: But it's a hard sell to say to someone: "Come to Jesus, he really loves you! He's kind and beautiful and compassion, and forgiving. And if you don't come to Him, any day now, He's going to kill you.
When read correctly, the book of revelation shows the exact opposite.
The book starts out by introducing us to the self-sacrificial lamb. This is a picture of God that is self-sacrificial. Who gives His OWN life for others.
Introduced to the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, and the protitute. These represent the devil and the empires of the world that have beast-like power, instead of lamb like power.
Our calling - is to follow the lamb and not the dragon/beast/false prophet/prostitue.
We are people who follow the lamb wherever he goes.
Last week -
Last week - we talked about the frogs that comes out of the mouths of the dragon and the beast and the false prophet. They represent the lying, demonic spirits that lead men to armageddon. Who lead men to war.
Again, we are people who follow the lamb and not the frogs.
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, (Revelation 1:12)
and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. (Revelation 1:13)
The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. (Revelation 1:14)
His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. (Revelation 1:15)
In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. (Revelation 1:16)
Overall picture is the main purpose - huge bright powerful Jesus. - SOMETIMES the specific elements have individual meanings as well. And that’s true here b/c John goes on to explain what some of the things mean.
Lampstand - w/7 branches/candles - represents the church. - 7=complete. Complete church. - He's holding onto it showing the church is perserved by Him.
Wearing Robe goes down to his feet w/sash - clothes of a judge. - He’s the only who’s worthy to judge, not us.
Hair - white as wool - Book of Daniel/Proverbs- Wisdom
Eyes on fire - piercing vision. See's through - facade.
Feet are like bronze glowing in a furnace
Also Daniel - Judgement, marching towards
Declares us - righteous - His sacrifice.
Also Daniel - Judgement, marching towards this judgement - he declares us righteous b/c of his sacrifice.
Voice - like the sound of rushing waters
Ezekiel - Power of his words
Sword out of his mouth
Multiple times in revelation - how he fights - speaking truth. Cuts between deception and truth. - Doesn’t literally slay people (the sword wouldn't be coming out of his mouth if that were the case), he divides between truth and lies. And he frees people by slaying lies.
Face was like the sun
Shining like the sun.
Also - righteous
"will become like Him, shining like the sun". (Matthew 13)
So it has to do with the ‘False Prophet’ AKA 2nd beast - that we talked about last week. And the Emperor worship of the day.
The beast - Violence - empire, specifically Rome.
Emperor Cesar Nero.
Symbolically put his mark (666 cryptogram of Nero Cesar) on their foreheads symbolizing their minds and on their hands, symbolizing their deeds.
Priests dedicated to this.
Convincing people to worship the beast.
Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. (Revelation 13:11)
LOOKED like a lamb, but was an imposter. When it spoke, it sounded like Satan.
It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, (Revelation 13:16)
so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. (Revelation 13:17)
This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666. (Revelation 13:18)
Basically: John has a vision that people who don’t get Neros number can’t buy or sell.
Church history shows us that happened.
In the roman empire for a time, unless you had offered your required sacrifices to God (Nero) you weren’t allowed in the market.
So Christians were faced with the choice of submitting to Nero or risk losing their livelihood.
All for the purpose of reminding the Christians about to be martyred “No matter what, follow the self-sacrificial lamb."
NT Wright says - 2 things when it comes to after death existance.
He believes: If I were to die today, some state of existence, but it wouldn’t be the final one.
Bible talks about a new heaven and a new earth - which hasn’t come yet.
We know that because we still die, still get sick, still kill each other with nuclear bombs and stuff.
So - split
So wherever you go, you go there - spiritual sense. And you body stays here. Cremated, buried, whatever. - Put on the mantle if you’re a Moose.
But theres a time that comes when we get our bodies back.
New heaven and the new earth.
Paul - death
Paul says when talking about death: "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."
Different beliefs about when you die.
Some: Die - Nothing.
Until Jesus comes and raises you from the dead.
Lots of 1st century jews thought that.
Paul refers to them as ‘sleeping'. - IE unconscience.
Pretty unusual - modern day.
I don’t personally think this.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (2 Corinthians 5:1)
Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, (2 Corinthians 5:2)
because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. (2 Corinthians 5:3)
I think he’s talking about being reunited with your body - new heaven and the new earth.
This is why SOME Christians don't want to get cremated. That's a little silly to me. You turn to dust either way.
Well, 1st off, these are 7 historical churches. With real situations and problems.
No none of them are directly referring to us.
But that doesn’t mean that there’s not things we can take from them.
I think those all apply today. Heck, I think they all apply to ME! Just on different days.
This is actually a good lesson in correct bible reading. We don’t read revelation and say “God says we have fallen asleep!” No he hasn’t. He said that to the church of Sardis. But we can still ask ourselves: Have we fallen asleep?
God says we have "Blood on our hands!" No he doesn't. He said that to Ezekiel concerning his calling to be a prophet to the Israelites.
Remember: Picaso painting. - EVERYTHING is symbol.
Plague coming - destroy 1/3 - earth
Not - actual plague.
Not consistent w/ rest - story.
We don’t mistake symbol for reality.
So, we’re looking for what these things symbolize.
Plague coming to destroy 1/3 of the earth, isn’t an actual plague coming to destroy the earth, that’s not consistent with the rest of the story. - We don’t mistake symbol for reality. So, we’re looking for what these things symbolize.
Ok, so first an interesting point. Lots of scholars think that the book of revelation is not a linear timeline but a cyclical timeline. That means it’s the same thing and it keeps repeating it in different ways. - So the breaking of the 7 seals, the blowing of the 7 trumpets, and the releasing of the 7 plagues are all the same thing.
Regardless of whether you think these are things that happen right after the other, or if you think that it’s different things happening, it really doesn’t make any difference between it’s all symbolic anyway.
7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 plagues are all communicating this:
Jesus slaying lies to free people.
Destruction of 'Rome-power' so that people can see 'lamb-power'. Symbolizes the destruction of empire that goes against the message of the lamb.
There’s a time when God comes as the judge - judges the people. But this is way before any of that.
We’re still in the part of the story where God slays the lies to free the people.
There’s clearly some of the book of revelation that are about the end, but the question is how much.
Setting scene - slightly dull
John - prison - patmos.
John addresses each of the 7 churches.
Big, crazy, epic, weird, disturbing vision.
Satan, antichrist, false prophet.
7 bowls containing 7 plagues.
This is the place that I strongly believe is an encouragement to the 7 churches.
Last segment of scripture
John describes - new heaven, new earth.
No more crying, pain, suffering.
Last 2 1/2 chapters - ARE TALKING ABOUT THE FUTURE. Apocalyptic vision - SHIFTS - How God wraps this whole thing up.
In it’s beauty - redemption, love.
It’s STILL apocalyptic literature.
So it’s not a technical telling, it’s an artistic telling.
Chap 21 - Talks about this ‘bride’ that’s a ‘city’ and a ‘city’ that’s a ‘bride’.
New heaven, new earth
No longer any sea
God himself will be with them
Wipes away every tear
No longer any death, mourning, crying, or pain.
This is taking about Christs 2nd coming.
In an artist way.
Not hoping - sea - dry up. - Means: no evil
Later in Ch 21 - Shows us the ‘dimensions’ of God’s coming kingdom.
It’s a cube - 1,400 miles tall, wide, and long.
Beautiful stones, jewels.
River with the water of life - flowing down main street.
No night, no need for lamps. - God will shine on us.
All symbolic of our heavenly home. It's perfection.
Jesus all the way through - talks about this idea that things will end and all will be given an account of.
People who thought they were in, weren't as in as they thought.
Other people, people who say 'God I didn't even know you. He says 'yes you did'.
Reframes the issue like this: They reached out to other human beings and Jesus counted that as them reaching out to him.
Don’t make a new theology out of that - religious people go to hell! and people who feed the poor all go to heaven! - You don’t know what I’m gonna do. I’m not telling you. Only thing I’m telling you: you’re gonna be flipping surprised.
Know this : God's mercy - wide ranging.
There's a lot of suprise on the last day. - Know this God's mercy is wide ranging. Suprising ways of meeting people.
A lof of Jesus's parables are called 'reversal parables'.
B/C he turns the answer everyone thought they knew on it's head.
Almost all warning Jesus gives are to people on the inside. Saying you think you’re on the inside you might not be as inside as you thought. And then to the outsiders, he says you’re actually insiders.
Take away here: humility. Don’t assume you’re on the inside and the people who don’t believe like you are on the outside.
You’re not worthy to make those judgements.
Story - man - catholic church - “In hell!”
What we DO know is that no one deserve eternal life but that’s it’s a gift to humanity through Jesus Christ.
“Judgement” in that case - is calling them righteous when they don’t deserve it.
HOW that works, WHEN that works, etc is all up for debate.
But don’t get cocky and act like you know.
There’s going to be LOTS of surprises when we see God’s judgement.
Psalms 96 and 98, where the whole of creation, animal and vegetable as well as human, sings for joy because God is corning 'to judge the earth'. Why? Why is that good news?
The key is remembering who God is fighting against.
Evil empire - keeps people - bondage.
World cries out - victory - sight - own liberation.
A lot of people think the ‘The Antichrist’ and ‘The False Prophet’ are the same.
I personally believe that the antichrist is not a person but a rising spirit or tendency of the culture that is ‘Anti’ Christ. Opposes the message of Jesus.
Word ‘antichrist' is not in the book of revelation, interestingly.
1 John & 2nd John, but it’s talking a spirit that can be in anyone. And is in many people all the time. Not 1 specific person.
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. (1 John 2:18)
Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist. (1 John 2:22)
but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (1 John 4:3)
… Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 1:7)
ANY person who denies that Jesus came in the flesh - contributes to the spirit of antichrist.
The ‘rapture’ is a belief that was created in the late 1820’s.
John Nelson Darby / Edward Irving
If new: Rapture belief: Christians - sucked up into the clouds to someplace else. All the nasty stuff of the book of revelation will happen.
Rapture will happen BEFORE the tribulation, AFTER the tribulation, or in the middle (also called pre-wrath).
First 1700 years, people assumed they would be going through all future difficulties on the earth.
Just like 1st century church - martyrs
Got bring you through those things and preserves you through them.
Not eject you out of it.
Amazing to see all the different opinions throughout the years.
When America was founded, the puritans, (and a lot of Christians throughout history), thought that the next thing to happen would be the 'milenium'. - Some literally 1,000 years, some figuratively.
America, from the puritan perspective, they thought America would be the new jerusalam, milenial period.
Jonathan Edwards talks about this new compass they had made. How that would help people find their way to America and this will be the new jerusalam.
That why so many of the cities/states have 'new' before them. Ney York - "new" york., New Hampshire - 'New' hapshire. - All cities in england, but those are the old, this is the new jeresalam. - Such a different eschatology (end world beliefs) than most people today have.
Here’s the basics of the rapture from the bible:
Some comes from Rev, but a lot comes from Matthew 24
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. (Matthew 24:21)
Jesus warning people
Wars and rumors of wars,
Famines, pestilence, earthquakes
Woe to those who are pregnant
Man & woman in bed, one - taken, other - left behind,
Workers in field, one left behind.
I personally believe, that that’s referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.
Does the rapture have a weight limit or something?
Makes A LOT of sense, if you’re talking about Rome coming to capture you and skin you alive. Makes a lot of sense.
Doesn’t make sense if you’re talking about the rapture.
While it’s true that one will be taken and another left behind, the one who’s taken is not the lucky one.
Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. (Matthew 24:34)
Jesus was a true prophet, b/c 40ish years later, that all happened.
Now to Revelation:
First 2 verses of chapter 4 - have played a big role in a lot of people's thinking about revelation. - Crystal ball.
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” (Revelation 4:1)
At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. (Revelation 4:2)
Common teaching: Voice says "come up here" - rapture.
Here's why I think that's the wrong interpretation of this verse. - Wether you believe in the rapture or not, you can't find it in this verse.
We have to understand it like the first century audience would have. When the voice says 'Come up here, I wanna show you some things'. - Maybe wrong. But I think they would have understood it as 'Come up here, I wanna show you some things.' That's all the verse says.
Doesn't say anything about a church, let alone a church at the end of history in that verse. - He's talking to John. He tells 'John' to come up here so he can show him some stuff. - Bad bible interpretation to read something into a verse that's not even hinted at.
I want to talk - one thing - comes ALONG w/ rapture belief.
I do want to talk about one thing that often times comes ALONG with rapture beliefs, I call it escapist theology.
I believe - unbiblical - negative side-effects.
Escapist theology - the belief that soon we’ll all be delivered from this hell-hole and that can’t come soon enough!!!
Unbiblical b/c: focus of the NT - Our hope is not us 'escaping' the earth. - The call is to bring heaven down to earth.
God comes to recover, redeem, restore, renew. - Want's to use us to do it.
We pray: your kingdom come / will be done.
We're to live in a way, pray in a way - brings heaven down to earth. - So that the world can see in the church a preview of heaven.
Not to abandon the earth.
Gets - hope - NT wrong.
Once done - throw - out - tissue.
If you have that view - this place is gonna get destroyed any day now. - Not going to be passionate taking care of it.
Not gonna care - earth, nature, animals.
In fact: Christians celebrate their lack of care for the earth.
Crazy : b/c of first instructions in Genesis 1 - Take care of the earth and the animal kingdom. - That's our job description. - Didn't go away. - We're caring for God's land and his pets.
I could show you 100's verses : God expresses passion - earth and animal kingdom. - Calls on us to care for it.
Tons of verses : God - warnings - DON'T care - earth / animal kingdom.
In fact, in Revelation 11:18:
The time has come for judging the dead, …and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” (Revelation 11:18)
Tons of verses like that. So don't say God's not passionate about the earth and the animal kingdom. Not - conservative/liberal thing. - It's a 'Follower of Christ' thing.
We’re free to believe in the rapture, lots of people do. We’re free to not believe in the rapture, lots of don’t.
For many many people, the idea of the rapture causes anxiety.
If I didn’t truly trust in the true character of God - the slain little lamb, I’d be nervous too.
Instead we’re called to live like the birds of the air, etc.
They don’t care about all this kind of stuff.
And when you die, you die, but for us, that’s not really bad news.
This life is not the only life that we live.
My interpretations of revelation, creation, the Old Testament, can all change and will change.
The thing that is sacred is His character, defined by the self sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. It's the one thing that can't change for us.
So all other beliefs have to pass through the lens of Jesus Christ character.
It’s the thing that is most true.
The amount of comfort that comes from that type of theology is amazing.
How is this whole thing gonna wrap up? - I'm not sure but I know that he’s 10,000 times more loving than I am, and I’m confident that when we finally see Him, we will be overcome by His goodness, His kindness, His forgiveness, His compassion. I am confident that His judgement will be consistent with His character; Which is LOVE.