Tag Archives: revelation

rev. 2:8-11 -> what are you made of?

To the Church in Smyrna

8“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.

****

WHAT DOES THIS PASSAGE TELL US ABOUT JESUS?

v. 8 – He is the First and the Last. This title was used of God in the OT (Isaiah 44:6, 48:12, 41:4) equating Jesus with God.  the First and Last of what? Of everything.  He is the first word as well as the last word on all things.  He is the creator and the completer.

*Do I live with Christ as the First and the Last of all things in my life?  Of me?   Too often I think of him as on the side of my world and I forget I am just an agent in His world.  It is so comforting when I relinquish myself to recognize that whatever situation I find myself in, He is the first and the last word on the matter.

v. 8 – he died and came to life again.

Christ is the only one who rose himself from the dead.  He is the only one who actually defeated death, so that those who trust in him might also be raised.

*I can entrust my future, my life, into his hands as I fully embrace that he can carry me beyond death. His resurrection proved that He was telling the truth, that he has authority even over death.

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT IS GOING RIGHT WITH THIS CHURCH?

In all accounts, from the world’s perspective, this church is in the pits…it is in a totally undesirable situation: afflicted, slandered, poor, and persecuted to the point of death.  Yet THIS is the church for which Jesus has no criticism.  This is the church that Jesus considers rich.  They are true to Jesus. In the midst of the most terrible suffering, they have shown how loyal they are to Jesus.  Indeed is this possibly how they have been so refined?

*this total upside down value system of God just continues to blow my mind.  I still don’t think we get it.  I don’t get it. I don’t like being uncomfortable.  I don’t like to be slandered…and this for doing right.  It infuriates my sense of justice.  It sucks to be poor.  As for persecution…what do I even know about real persecution?  Now I don’t think that Jesus is saying that these things are good in it of themselves, yet these things have a way of really showing our true colors…what we really hold on to.  I think in this way the Smyrnans are rich.  They know where true life comes from, they don’t have any delusional/false securities.  When grapes are crushed, sweet juice is revealed. When jars of clay are crushed, the treasure inside is revealed.  When we are crushed what will come out? This reminds me of the story of how James, the brother of the writer of this revelation, died.  The very person that was responsible for bringing James to the authorities to be killed, was so moved by James’ faith, he asked for James forgiveness and they were beheaded together.  God help me to be true to you, to hold onto to YOU in the midst of suffering.

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THEY CONTINUE?

He sees their suffering but does he promise that suffering will relent for their faithfulness?  No, in fact he tells them that even more suffering will come.  However, even if they die, they will have shown their true faith and would receive “the crown of life.”  By going faithfully toward death they are actually going toward true life. By facing the hurt in this life, they will not be hurt at all by the second death.

*I need a transformation of my paradigm…by dying to myself now I can have real life.  By holding onto my security now more than Christ, I will be letting go of eternal security (Luke 9:23-27).


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rev. 2:1-7 -> “you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling…”

Revelation 2

To the church in Ephesus

1“To the angel[a] of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

****

SUMMARY

All of Jesus’ messages to all the seven churches will generally follow this format of seven parts (McArthur):

–       the correspondent

–       the church

–       the city

–       the commendation

–       the concern

–       the command and

–       the counsel

For the seven churches I would like to answer at least the following questions:

–       what does this passage tell us about Jesus?

–       what is going right with the church?

–       what is going wrong with the church?

–       what are the consequences?

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT DOES THIS PASSAGE TELL US ABOUT JESUS?

v. 1 – he holds the seven stars in his right hand

he has special and total authority over the angel/messengers of his church (possibly the messengers have a greater responsibility)

*this is a reminder that God does hold teachers/messengers more responsible…since if they are false they mislead not only themselves but others.   sobering thought i must remember as a teacher, even as i write this blog (James 3:1).  yet if something truly is of God, a messenger who does not speak will also be just as responsible (Ezekiel 33:7-9).

v. 1 – he walks among the seven golden lampstands

he walks amongst the churches, he is present and moves amongst the churches, as we see later he checks on them, he interacts with the churches.

*this is so plain, but so easy to forget in everyday life.  do i, we, go about our business without even acknowledging interacting with Christ?  It’s like having a meeting with the boss but we ignore the boss.   Or like having a party for someone but eveyone ignores that person at the party.  God help us be your people.

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT IS GOING RIGHT WITH THIS CHURCH?

-They persevere – work hard,

-They have deeds

– They don’t put up with wicked behavior and false people

they hold on to the right doctrines and behaviors.

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT IS GOING WRONG WITH THIS CHURCH?  WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

They had lost the love they had at first – not only for God but the love they had for people, as the context talks about how they related to others.  It was okay that they hated the practices of the Nicolatians but did they forsake loving the Nicolatians themselves as well as others in general?  It is not just the feelings of love, but its an absence of certain actions too because he tells them to “do the things they did at first.”  What are the things that one who loves does, differently than one who does not love?  He challenges them to remember how they used to be (the height from which they have fallen).  He challenges them to do as lovers would.

When I think of the love one has at first for a person (or activity/thing) they love:

–       they are consumed with thoughts about the other

–       they can’t stop talking about the other

–       they want to spend time with the other, and can’t wait to see the other

–       they want to do whatever they can to please the other

–       they can’t seem to get enough of the other

–       it brings great joy and pleasure to spend time with the other

now maybe it makes more sense when the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:27) and to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

*so do we have this kind of love for God, for others?

Hmm if I replace the word “other” in the list above with “myself” its kind of sad but true.  I’m so consumed with myself, do I care for others that way?  I know we can’t be consumed with everyone or else we’d go crazy but at the very least we could have this kind of loving heart for others by praying that God would help us know him better and enlarge our hearts to love this way.  Doesn’t God love us this way?

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THINGS DON’T CHANGE?

God will remove the lampstand from its place.  What does this mean?  The church won’t shine where it could.  This church of these people will no longer be a people where God is made known.  God would no longer walk amongst them.  it would cease to be a church (Keenan, MacArthur); at best it would become a social club at worst it would cease to exist.  its pretty mind blowing to think that even if a church had the right doctrine and all the right behavior, without love it would cease to be.  What is a church without love?  It isn’t.

let’s take this further.  the church is not a building…it is the body of Christ.  it is people.  it is Christians.  so what is a Christian without love?  They aren’t.

*this is terrifying.  i shudder to think i, we, may be going around thinking we are Christians when we aren’t.  now I know that we are not saved by our good works, but that because we’re so messed up, Christ saved us.  But he saved us to do good works (Eph 2:8-10).  without the fruit (evidence) of love in our lives, what does that say about our root (our source)?   God may I, we, be rooted in you so that we may bear fruit.

ANY CHARACTER HERE

WHAT WILL HAPPEN FOR THOSE WHO DO CHANGE?

v. 7 – he will give the right to eat from the tree of life, in the paradise of God.  interesting to see that if we bear fruit spiritually, we can eat God’s fruit.  It comes full circle, in the beginning humankind had access to the tree of life and were able to live forever in paradise (Genesis 3:22-24), then we were barred access to this when we had sinned, but if we hold onto him (the root…that is through Christ) we can be back where he intended us to be.

*if we love God and love others, then we will be able to experience an even richer love in the future that we couldn’t know now…a love that is ever vibrant and to which there is no end.  I’d love to experience that.  Truly we could have a love we had at first, in the truest sense.

rev. 1:9-20 -> from the gatekeeper of life and death

One like a Son of Man

9I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

12I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,”[b]dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

17When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

19“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels[c] of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

****

a guide to reading this post: if you want the gist, just read the bold.  If you want explanations and applications (indicated by the s*symbol) of the bold, read everything else around it.

SUMMARY

John recounts how Christ spoke to him to deliver this message to the 7 churches of asia


WHAT DO WE SHARE AS CHRISTIANS?

V. 9 – The following are ours in Christ: Suffering, Kingdom, Patient endurance

We are in Christ as well.  We are a part of His kingdom.  The bible, especially I think of in the book of 1 Pet. talks about how suffering would be a part of our walk.  We are to be patient people.

*do we think this way?  The kingdom part is nice.  I need help though to see suffering and patient endurance as something I am privileged to share in my relationship with Christ.  Granted, not suffering for doing something wrong for that is not how Christ suffered, but suffering for what is right.  Why suffer for what is right?  Because sometimes to stand up for and live for what is right, invites suffering…it is not an easy path.  However, we can be refined through it, it may cause us to place our hope in him not in ourselves or other things, and it can be a blessing for others.   Because Christ suffered for us, we get to experience the blessing of God rather than His wrath.  Maybe when we suffer on behalf of others, they get to experience the blessing and mercy of God.  Maybe we learn more of the heart of God through suffering.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE IN THE SPIRIT?

V. 10 – We know as a xian John has the Holy Spirit in him.  However this seems to be something different.  If it meant simply he had the spirit, there was no reason to make a distinction that he had the sprit this day.  It doesn’t say the Spirit was in him, which should be always, but rather that he was in the Spirit…like in step with the Spirit.  He was in some sort of state.  A special communion.  “In the Spirit” seems to be some sort of state, a state of communion with the Lord such that he could receive a vision.

*Have I ever been in the Spirit?  Can I be in the Spirit or is that something just from some people at a particular point in time?  At the very least, I know from Galatians (gal 5:25) as well as Romans (Romans 8:12-14) that I can choose to live a life in step with the spirit or led by the Spirit.  So am I led by the Spirit these days?

WHO IS THE SPEAKER OF THIS VISION?

V. 10-20 – Jesus (“God is my salvation”) Christ (“the messiah” aka the anointed one).  Evidence:

1) v.13 – someone “like a son of man” is a reference to Daniel 7:13 that speaks of an exact person who comes before God’s throne and also is worshiped.  (this is a great verse to show that we see the glimpses of the trinity in the old testament too.  someone who is God but seems to be a certain expression of God)

2) v. 18 – someone who was dead but is now alive forever.  someone who has authority over death and the abode of the dead (aka hell).

WHAT AUTHORITY DOES HE HAVE (as stated in this passage)?

1) v. 16 “In his right hand he held seven stars…” we know from v.20 that the stars are angels.  The right hand, the stronger hand, means strength and authority.  Who are these angels that God exerts special strength and authority over?  There are a couple interpretations of this:

A) these are actual angels connected to churches (to do God’s bidding, to guard, to send messages) because stars are often    symbols for angels (Fruchtenbaum) as well as a likely interpretation from the context of the book.

OR

B) these are key messengers of the churches, since the word angel means “messengers.”  MacArthur also points out that it seems strange that God would use a John, a man, to write to an angel when God usually speaks directly to angels.

*in either case what does this mean for us? Ultimately that God has control over the safety and anointing of his church.  We can depend on His power for us, or not.


2) v. 18 he has authority, specifically decisive power, over death and the place of the dead

Hades is the Greek word for the underworld or the abode of those no longer living (Sheol being the Hebrew equivalent), and according to Fructenbaum a temporary state not an eternal state – the eternal state for those unsaved being the lake of fire.  It is somewhat another word for hell, which is an English word for which there is no Hebrew or Greek.  The concept of hell seems to speak specifically to the abode of the dead who are not saved (aka abbadon or the pit).

What do key holders mean?  Without a key holder we are unable to enter into life, exit death and hell.

*Do we believe this, that only Christ has decisive power over who passes from death to life, who moves from the underworld to heaven?  Do we then treasure and share Christ as the only hope for life after death?  Do we seek Him on behalf of others, or do we leave them without the person who holds the keys to their life?

WHAT IS THE CONTENT OF THIS REVELATION?

v. 19 – this is how many scholars actually break up this book of revelation

1) “what you have seen”  – Rev. 1:9-20

2) “what is now” – Rev. 2:1-3:22

3) “what will take place letter” – Rev. 4:1-22:21

revelation 1:1-8 > why should i care about this?

Revelation 1

Prologue

1The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Greetings and doxology

4John,
To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits[a] before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
7
Look, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.

8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

****

a guide to reading this post: if you want the gist, just read the bold.  If you want explanations and applications of the bold, read everything else around it.

SUMMARY:

John tells of whom he received this testimony from, who it is addressed to, and why we should care.


WHY STUDY REVELATION (according to the testimony of this book)?

v. 3 John, through God, claims that those who hear and take to heart what is written in it will be blessed (happy, waterfall of goodness).  why is it such a blessing?  it says because “the time” is near.  what time?  the time of his return (see v. 7).   how do i figure that?  Because this book in particular makes at least one other explicit claim about itself being a blessing (rev. 22:7) and the other explicit blessing stated in the book (rev. 16:15) as well both relate this blessing to one’s readiness for Christ’s return.  So then why is Christ’s return so important and why should I care for that?   Because when he returns, that is it.  for some it will mean mourning (v.7), for they must answer and pay for all that they have done – forever.  for some though it will be joy-the joy of one longing for their lover and savior, since Christ alone can pay the price for our sins.  then they can be with the one they have longed for – forever.

So as to the big question why should we care about the book of revelation?

1) you will be blessed by doing so

2) you will be more ready for eternity, and not caught unaware when Christ returns

*i want to experience this blessing that this book promises.  i want to be ready for Him.  not to be ashamed or with any regrets.  my prayer is that i not only hear and even study this book but that i take to heart what is written in it.

WHY IS THIS JUST ADDRESSED TO SEVEN CHURCHES?

We know that there were more than seven churches in existence (at the very least the church in Jerusalem, as well as the other churches paul wrote to such as Corinth, Rome, etc).   We know that what is referred to as Asia is modern day Turkey, and the seven cities mentioned are all in that area.  We know that John was in Patmos, an island off the coast of this Asia.  So why just these churches in Asia?  Doesn’t God want to speak to other churches as well?  Well, we know that as Christians there are things we can learn from what he speaks to other believers. Much like all the other letters in the new testament which were addressed to certain churches, but had issues that we could still relate to today. So truth is not exclusive.  It just seems that God had a specific message for these churches at this time.  Some things apply to us, some things won’t.   The scholars that I have read (Keener, Fructenbaum) acknowledge that there were other churches in the area but that these seven churches were in strategic cities in Asia (which in fact became the home of the first Christian civiliation, under the reign of Constantine) from which his message could spread.  Its interesting to note that numbers are very important in the bible (and the jewish culture in general), seven means the number of completion.

*wow, I think that’s so neat to be reminded that God knows each church.  neat, but also scary.  He recognizes that churches have responsibility to represent Him, to be an influence in their cities.  if God would speak to my/your/our church what would he have to say?  I hope we are a church, a people, that represents him well.

WHO ARE THE SEVEN SPIRITS?

V. 4-5 say that “Grace and peace” come from three persons all who seem to be given a special honor.  true grace and peace only comes from God (it is a gift of God => Eph 2:8-9), and we know this testimony of John originated from God (v.1).  We know that there is only one God (see 10 commandments).   So is God one or three?  Here we see the doctrine of the trinity: One God in three persons (an analogy that has been helpful for me to understand the trinity, albeit limited, is that of water.  water is water; it is one.  yet, water has three forms: solid, liquid, and gas.  they are not three separate things or entities…it is still water made of the same elements, yet they can exist in different forms).  The three persons of the one Godhead are seen in v 4-5 as follows:

1)    v. 4 “him who is, and who was, and who is to come”  – when moses asks God’s name, God replies “I am that I am.” He is the only one who simply exists (self-existent) whereas all other things derive their existence from something else and has a beginning.  this is referring to God the Father

2)    v. 5 “Jesus Christ” – ok this is pretty plain…this is Jesus.  Jesus is not just another person below God, because Jesus is “ruler of the kings of the earth” (v.5) and to him is given “glory and power forever and ever” (v. 6).  Jesus is then God the Son

3) v. 4 “the seven spirits before his throne” – now from the context two persons of the trinity are mentioned as the source of “grace and peace”.   as a side note some have translated the above words as “the sevenfold spirit.” this 3rd person from whom “grace and peace” come must be the 3rd person of the trinity, God the Holy Spirit.

*when is the last time i have meditated on the wonder of the trinity?  do i honor God in all these aspects of Him?

WHY IS JESUS SO IMPORTANT FOR US OR WHAT HAS HE DONE FOR US?

–       He loves us (v.5).  this is interestingly enough the only present tense verb, the rest have already happened for us who put our trust in Him.

*do we believe that he loves us NOW, even at this present moment?

–       He freed us from our sins (v.5).  we are free from our sins.

*do we believe that?  do i?  this is so hard for me to accept and live out of.  i keep on living like a slave to sin when im already freed from it.  why do i like my slavery to sin so much?  he came so that i could experience this freedom.  am i experiencing this freedom?

–       He freed us by his blood (v. 5), meaning he secured our freedom, at the cost of his own life.  the freedom we have is not a right, but a privilege…an expensive privilege.

*may we not treat his sacrifice cheaply, by not living in this freedom and taking it for granted.

–       He made us to be a kingdom (v.6).  he is our king and under him we are united for Him.  we are to be ruled by Him.  we must answer to Him.  we have all the privileges that the king affords to his citizens.

*do we live ruled by the king or are we trying to be kings and queens?

–       He made us to be priests (v.6).  what are priests but those who are given the authority to be mediatory agents, representatives, between other humans and God.  we can mediate God to others and we can mediate others to God.  not mediators in the sense of people who actually save, for only Christ is our ultimate mediator.  its as if Christ is our priest (saving mediator between God and humans) so that we can be priests (pointing mediators between God and humans).

*what kind of priests (pointer mediators) are we?  do we draw others to God or do we push people away from God?  do we lift up others to God or do we simply lift up ourselves?

intro to revelation study project

so i’ve been meaning to study the book of revelation for quite some time now.  this is for several reasons:

1) there have been some crazy disaster type things happening on this planet recently (in frequency more so than I remember too)

1) people avoid interpretation of this book like the plague (pun intended)

2) many people, yes Christians too, are very hazy on the end times and prophesy (me included…i just couldnt find good scholarship on it easily)

3) about 2 summer ago on summer mission i sensed God pointing me toward studying it…i’ve been putting it off

4) my sunday school class wanted to study it (another sign God?)

5) Jesus, says that there is a particular blessing to reading/studying/paying attention to the contents of this book

Revelation 1:3
3Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

  Revelation 22:7
[ Jesus Is Coming ] “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”

  Revelation 16:15
”Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

A couple caveats:

now i make no promises in this project, i might not even post on here consistently or continually.  im just gonna take a stab at it and i would appreciate your thoughts on the matters at hand.

this will not be an exhaustive study, for example verse by verse, detail by detail, i’m sure there are decent commentaries for that.  i’ll probably pose and try to answer questions that i have about the passage.

where possible i will try to cite sources that i’ve used and will try to be clear about my methods of interpretation, influenced greatly by the book – the footsteps of the messiah – by arnold fruchtenbaum, which i may pull from heavily (this book has a lot of great resources and he brings a unique knowledge of jewish culture, tradtions, and OT prophesy scholarship to bear on the subject.)

here we go.