Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Conclusion of Revelation 1

Alright, so we are down to the final 2 verses of Revelation 1:

"Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The 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 of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches."

Growing up, or I guess I should say, in my early years of being a Believer, I always avoided reading the book of Revelation. I avoided it because I thought there was way too much symbolism for me to understand. But as I've studied it recently, I've realized that yes, there are a bunch of symbolic figures and visions, BUT I've found that most of them are explained right in the text. And we are seeing that here. In these 2 verses, Jesus is explaining to John what the vision of the seven stars and the seven golden lampstands are. A few verses earlier John sees "someone 'like a son of man'" walking among the lampstands and having seven stars "in his right hand."

The seven stars, according to Jesus, are the "angels of the seven churches." The word angels could also mean "messengers." Now there are 2 explanations for the word "angels" [or messengers]: It could be taken literally and that these seven churches actually had angels assigned [I guess that's the right word?] to their churches. Then I guess you can assume that there could be angels assigned to churches in today's time? The other possible explanation is that the word messenger refers to the pastors/preachers that are over the churches. I tend to go more with this explanation, but that's just me...

One of the most encouraging parts of this vision is Jesus ["son of man" - which is how Daniel described the person in his vision recorded in Daniel 7] walking among the lampstands. Here we can imagine Jesus walking between each lampstand, probably stopping by each one with a smile on His face. Maybe He reaches out and places His hand on the lampstand. You see, Jesus longs to be with His church, loves to reach out and touch His church, and for sure He loves it when His church welcomes Him in. The sad part is that there are many churches out there that have four walls, but Jesus is not found in them. The Holy Spirit is not taught on and He is certainly not allowed to minister. These churches are dead. They have the appearance of being alive, but in fact are quite dead. The Spirit is not living and dwelling within them! These churches have the fluff and flattery [ie. seeker-friendly] but lack the truth. It makes me so thankful to belong to a church where the Lord is free to do what He wants, when He wants and how He wants. I pray that the Lord would grab ahold of the messengers of these dead churches and put a fire in their bones to preach the Word, and to preach it boldly! If not, then it is my opinion that these will be the ones to fall away during the End Times that Jesus talks about in Matthew 24 [see also 2 Thess 2, Revelation 17]. Wake up churches!!

So I pray that wherever you are at, that Jesus would walk near you and reach out His mighty hand to touch your life exactly where you need/want Him to. I pray that you would see Him smile at you! There's nothing better...

Grace and peace.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Musings and Revelation 1 continued...

As I have been sitting by the ocean the past several days, I've been in awe of how amazing my God is! He is so infinitely huge yet comes down to man to speak to him, to encourage him and to love him...speechless! I look out into the expanse which is the Atlantic Ocean and I can't help but imagine God holding all of the water on earth in the palms of His hands...ok, that's crazy BIG!! The second thought that comes to mind is the overwhelming knowledge that God thinks about me; that He has engraved my name on the palm of His hands (Isaiah 49:16) and His heart is ravished when He sees my name and when our eyes meet. Psalm 139 comes to mind as I sit on the beach:

"How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand."

Ok, I'm not always good at math, but that is a LOT of thoughts. So today I did a little experiment. I picked up a handful of sand on the beach and I tried to count the grains (I wouldn't call that being bored, just taking a break from reading and trying to bring this Scripture to life!). The key word here is "tried." I was about 1/500th of the way through the sand in my hand and I was already higher than I've ever counted before, plus I'm not accounting for all the grains of sand that sifted through my fingers! And the Lord just quietly and gently encouraged me, "I love you, my thoughts for you and only you outnumber the grains of sand on every beach on earth...and each one is good and makes me smile!" The unfathomable beauty of it all is that He can say that about each and every person...and that includes you!!

The third thought that came rushing through my mind happened yesterday while I was out surfing. I sat out there watching wave after wave come in, some I rode while others I just floated over and watched as the white water refreshed the seashore. The Lord said, "A wave is coming. A wave that has never been seen before in history. It is going to be big and powerful, but if you love me and rest in me, you are going to see it coming and building. But, will you ride it with me or will you just watch? You can't control the wave. You must surrender to its power and let it take you." Wow! As we study Revelation, we see that a new, fresh, never-seen-before wave is coming (and is coming soon!). Many are going to see this wave and either just sit and watch or they are going to get out of the water altogether. A few are going to see this wave coming and are going to get excited about the possibilities. Just as a wave breaks and refreshes the seashore with new grains of sand, in the same way this Wave is bringing with it restoration and renewal. The Wave is bringing with it the Kingdom of heaven to earth!! It is going to be powerful and it is going to be scary, but I can promise you it is going to be exhilarating and for lack of a better word, good.

So how does this relate to Revelation 1? Well in verses 12-18 John vividly describes his vision of Jesus. It is the same vision Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1), Isaiah (Isaiah 6) and Daniel (Daniel 10) had. This Wave that is coming is bringing with it a clear Revelation of who Jesus is! A Jesus that is "dressed in a robe reaching down to His feet and with a golden sash around His chest." A Jesus whose "head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were like blazing fire...feet like burning bronze in a furnace." And this last description brings it back full circle, "And His voice was like the sound of rushing waters." A voice that is so thunderous and full of power that every other noise is drowned out. Imagine Niagara Falls multiplied by I don't know, some high number! : )

One of my blog posts would not be complete if I didn't mention something that relates to worship. This vision and portrayal of Jesus is one that most of us don't regularly think of. Let's be honest, when I think of Jesus, I see a caucasian male with a beard, wearing sandals and a smile. This may be true and all, but when we come into a worship setting, we need to have the same picture of Jesus that John (and others) describes. A picture of royalty and majesty; of power and of someone that shines brilliantly with glory and light! We need to focus on Him majestically walking throughout the aisles of your church with a double-edged sword bursting forth from His mouth ready to pierce our very beings and change us for eternity! I'll wager a bet and say that our worship experience will be completely altered once we have this image etched into our minds and hearts. Agree?

Anyway, thanks for reading my random musings...until next time...

Grace and peace.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Revelation 1

Ok I'm back and we are on a mission. We are going to go through the book of Revelation, starting from the beginning. Well...at least I hope to go through every chapter. I may skip around a little bit...don't hate me!

We are going to start by looking at the first half of chapter 1...

It is important to understand first that the book of Revelation was written about things present and about the things to come...both in the near future and in the distant future. The first 3 chapters are written about the things present.

In verse 1 John addresses one of the things I cannot stand right off the bat..."The revelation of Jesus Christ...". Like I've said before, this book is about only ONE revelation...the Revelation of Jesus Christ! This is not the book of RevelationS. That's one of my pet-peeves (spelling?). I literally cringe when someone says Revelations instead of Revelation. The main focus of this book is to reveal the Father's heart for the Bridegroom (Jesus) to be reunited with His bride (us, the church), and for us to come to the realization that we must fall deeply in love with Jesus!

Verse 3: "Blessed 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."

There are 3 crucial things a Believer MUST do when it comes to this book: 1) Read it; 2) Hear it; and 3) Take it to heart. The last imperative there means that this book must alter how we live our lives. Believers have to take this book to heart and change the way they live. We must live as love-sick brides longing for the return of our Bridegroom!

Verse 4: "...Grace and peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before His throne." The "seven spirits" is also translated "sevenfold Spirit." So what is the "seven spirits?" We find the answer in Isaiah 11:2, which states, "The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him (Jesus) - the Spirit of wisdom (1) and of understanding (2), the Spirit of counsel (3) and of power (4), the Spirit of knowledge (5) and of the fear of the Lord (6) - and He will delight in the fear of the Lord (7)."

Verse 5: "...and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth." The firstborn of the dead refers to Jesus being the first One ever to be resurrected from the dead and who is the King of Kings. He will soon rule over the entire earth with His iron sceptor and every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Lord of heaven and of earth.

We will skip down to verse 7 which describes Jesus' descension and earthly procession:

"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." The Bible tells us that Jesus is going to return the same way He left. After He was resurrected and walk the earth with His disciples, it says that Jesus ascended up into the clouds. So, we know that this is the same way He is going to return...with the clouds. When He does this, every eye is going to see Him. To me this is crazy to even think about and there are opinions being tossed back and forth as to how this is going to actually look. Some say that every person on earth is going to see Jesus at the same time. I know that He is God in the flesh, but this seems rather hard to process. It is hard to imagine that every living person on planet earth is going to see Him at the same time.

I have a thought of my own here (well maybe not my own but it's backed by Scripture). In Malachi 1, verse 11 it says, "My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun." It is the rising and setting of the sun that serves as a symbol of how Jesus' triumphal procession is going to look!

Want another reference? Psalm 19:4-6

"In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat." The bold there is to emphasize my point. This basically says that the sun is our day-to-day example of how the bridegroom is going to run his course when He comes again! To maybe try and make more sense of this, take for example the sun rising. Nowadays, the sun rises around say 6:30 in the morning here in Georgia. In California, the sun rises at around the same time; and the same goes for people in Hawaii, Australia, India, etc. So in essence, we will all see Jesus at the same time, but not at the exact same time. Make sense?! I hope it does.

And I would love to hear your thoughts!!

In that same verse it says that "all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him." This may have several meanings. One may be the type of mourning described in Matthew 5. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." We as Believers must mourn (ie. long or ache) for His return, and we will be comforted when we see Him coming on the clouds because we would have just gone through the worst time period in history...the Great Tribulation. Also, people are going to mourn because they know their names are not written in the book of life and they are now going to spend eternity in hell, apart from Jesus.

Can I just say here that I cannot imagine how crazy unbelievable His return or procession is going to be. Imagine now the Son of Man, riding on the clouds in all of His glory with all of the resurrected bodies with Him, cruising around the earth! Man, it gives me chill bumps even thinking about it now. Since Jesus is fully man (and fully God), one would have to think that the cloud He is riding on will have to be close enough to the ground in order for us to recognize Him...maybe? Thoughts?

Jesus then is quoted in verse 8: "I am the Alpha and the Omega...who is, and who was, and who is to come, THE Almighty." We all know that Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last letter of the alphabet. So Jesus is saying here that He was the first (He was there WITH God before the creation of the universe - John 1) and He is the last (He is coming back to reign forever). Jesus then sums it all up by saying that He is THE ALMIGHTY! There is none like Him; none past, present or future. He is above ALL! He is so completely other!

So there you go, the start of our study of the book of Revelation. Again, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments as we proceed.

Until next time...

Grace and peace.