Revelation 21:23

Jeremiah 4, Revelation 21:9-27


Revelation 21:23 (New International Version)

23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.


The sun and the moon appear in the opening pages of the Bible, on the fourth day of creation. Here, in the closing pages of the Bible, the sun and moon are declared redundant.

Yes, the sun, described in Psalm 19 in glowing terms as a bridegroom and a champion, is now superseded. The brilliant radiation of the sun, which floods the earth with heat and light and so sustains life, is now eclipsed by a greater glory. The sun pales into insignificance in the face of the glory of God and the Lamb.

And just as the sun physically illuminates the whole earth, so the heavenly spiritual radiance bathes the entire planet. “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it”. Jesus is not just our light or Israel’s light but Jesus is the light of the world; and whoever – whoever – follows him will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).

 

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War breaks out in heaven

The scene presented in reading from Revelation 12:7-17 is at odds with any perception we may have of heaven as a place of peace and tranquillity.

At a point described in Daniel 12 as the mid-point of the great tribulation the Archangel Michael and his faithful army of angels are locked in a battle with the dragon and his fallen angels that will finally deny Satan access to heaven (see Job 1:12; Zechariah 3:1; Luke 10:18).

How is this battle fought? We know this is a real fight; while our battle with Satan and his demons is spiritual, among angels, it is possible that there is a material battle to be fought in a way we can only imagine.

Note the various titles and descriptions in verse 9 – dragon, serpent of old (Genesis 3), the Devil, Satan, who deceives the whole world; he is vicious, an adversary, an accuser and a deceiver.

Verse 11 provides three keys to the saint’s victory over Satan:

  • The blood overcomes Satan’s accusations – those accusations mean nothing against us because the price has already been paid by Jesus Christ. We may be even worse than Satan accuses us of being, but we are still are made righteous by the work of Jesus on the cross (Ephesians 1:7Hebrews 9:14)
  • The word of their testimony overcomes Satan’s deceptions; they need not be deceived because they have known and remembered the work that God has done in their lives. As faithful witnesses, they have a testimony to bear – and because they know what they have seen and heard and experienced from God, they cannot be deceived by Satan’s lies telling them it isn’t true.
  • Loving not their lives overcomes Satan’s violence; if they do not cling to their own earthly lives, then there really is no threat Satan can bring against them.

While Heaven rejoices at the eviction of Satan the wrath of the dragon is focused against God’s people on earth. Satan attacks the woman (v.13-16) but God protects her and delivers her to a place in the wilderness where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time (Daniel 12:7).

There are various interpretations about these verses as to what, who and when. Some have taught that the woman is a symbol that represents all the people of God, including faithful Israel and the church; they use this to advance the idea that the church is here during the tribulation period. Others see her as Israel in general, or Messianic Jews in particular.

Satan’s power is real and terrifying, but not because he is triumphant, but because he knows he is beaten and has a short time left – like a wounded, cornered animal, he can fight with great ferociousness. We may ask if he is defeated – why doesn’t he just give up? But we should remember that Satan is utterly depraved – he may have deceived even himself into thinking that he has a chance.

A pair of Kings, from different houses and judgement

Today’s (Wed 31/05/2017) FDRs are 1 Samuel 26 & 27 and Revelation 17 & 18

As we continue our reading in the books of Samuel about two earthly kings from different families we continue to see a stark contrast between Saul and David.  Saul is now under God’s judgement and has been given over to an evil spirit or demon.  Do you remember after which sin God turned His back on Saul?

David is still making day to day decisions with God’s supremacy and will in his mind.  So he chooses not to take revenge opportunities that he comes into but to leave judgement to God.  Given our first impulses many of us will want to react to offences given. Just like David’s men in both the cave and Saul’s tent.  It is hard to restrain the ‘urge’ to strike out at the person who has hurt us.  Perhaps we’ve been passed over for a promotion or the desired cream task has been handed to somebody else! Perhaps our friends have been told a false story about us or our family that they’ve believed!

In the moment we discover that this has happened to us we often want to teach the perpetrator a lesson!

Jesus teaches us that there, in the flash of a thought to take revenge, we have sinned!  How do we remedy this response in us?

Why do you think we see David acting differently?   Look into Jesus’s teaching and the apostles writings about how to keep ourselves from sinning?

As we read our Revelation chapters today, are you struck, as I am, by the immense forces unleashed on  the earth and its people.

We read, hear or see news of apparent threats from North Korea and this country’s testing of missiles that could carry nuclear war heads onto our country.  War heads that can unleash tremendous destruction and desolation.  What will these end-times forces that God is sending in judgement do?  Why judgement?

Whatever you believe the form of these visions in Revelation are, it is pretty clear they depict the end of the world and its peoples.  The way in which these descriptions occur and are written are similar to any other passages in the Bible where God brings judgement on an individual, on a people, on nations and on countries.  As a direct example look at the earlier Samuel passage where Saul is judged as God withdraws Himself and allows an evil spirit to control Saul.

While David’s prime role in the Bible is to continue the line from which the gracious gift of God is made, that of Jesus Christ in the form of forgiveness for our sins.  This is so that forgiveness comes to life personally in our world.  So too we are reminded by Revelation that judgement can and will come to us all.

David’s life, although faulted, becomes an exemplar for our own life.  To live in faith and hope under the glorious grace and mercy of our Triune God.  Our Father God!

I trust this hymn and its words build you up and encourage you as you seek to live as God asks.  I encourage to go into today with these words and your commitment to our Almighty God on your heart and mind.

I, the Lord of sea and sky

May we be blessed by God and bless each other as we seek to walk together as children of God.

Glenn

Thanks to youtube.com for the clip above.

 

…not with sword and spear

Today’s readings are both well known passages. The first, 1 Samuel 17, is perhaps everyone’s favourite Sunday School story about David and Goliath. It can be easy with these well known passages to gravitate towards our favourite sections, or miss out on things because we think we know it so well. There is so much interesting detail in this account outside of the main line of action that could be explored, like the relationship between David, his father, his brothers (especially Eliab) and Saul (and how that fits chronologically with the previous chapter).

I tend to be drawn though by verses that speak to why, so today want to reflect on one small part of one verse in the mainline narrative. In verses 46-47, as David answers Goliath’s taunt, not only does he Goliath he will die, but why:

that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear

I wonder what “all this assembly” made of “the Lord saves not with sword and spear” as the giant fell. Continue reading

The Messenger killed. Judgement for All.

Today’s (Fr 03/06/2016) FDRs are from 2 Samuel 1 and Revelation 20 .

1 Samuel 2 – As we change books into the second book of Samuel it is worth noting that this book should be read as a continuation of the first although David shortly becomes the major focus.

While there is a sense of unfair treatment for the Amalekite messenger who, it appears was expecting a reward for finishing-off David’s public enemy (v10), David acts with continued great regard for Saul, (God’s appointed King, Jonathan’s father, and previously David’s direct boss) and has the messenger killed.  David continues to pay particular respect to King Saul, not just as his great friend’s father but as the person God carefully appointed to be King over Israel.

Given the breakdown in relationship between David and Saul it would have been very easy to dismiss Saul’s death as a gift and concentrate on Jonathan’s death in David’s dirge.  Yet this is not what David does.  He respects God’s choice of King and the dirge that follows (vv 19 – 27) and expresses his and his men’s grief over the death of both the  leaders yet the defeat of Israel is not included here.  Jonathan rates a particular mention in vv 25 and 26 as befits a very close friend, who was like a brother to David.  This expression, of his brotherhood with Jonathan, brings into the spotlight David’s son-like relationship with Saul.  This Saul who sought to take his life many times is still considered as a father to David!

We can see here a representation of God’s love for you and I.  Despite all we do in sin God still loves us and through His grace has provided His Son, Jesus to stand for us on Judgement Day.

Hypothetically, If we were unforgiving of Saul, as it is easy to be, then David and Saul’s relationship would have ended in a cave where Saul went to relieve himself and David had advantage over him.  NO more running and hiding.  NO more separation from his brother Jonathan.  NO serving the Philistine King.  Oh – and Jonathan would be free of his father.  Seems easy doesn’t it?

Yet, if we were to act as in the above hypothetical, we would be discounting and dishonouring God who had Samuel anoint Saul as King.

As I write this I am convicted that I should examine my own human responses to people whom God has put in my life!  People I have turned from because of some apparent offense!  Equally important, I realise an assessment of my life’s relationship with my God appointed King Jesus Christ is necessary.  Regularly and when prompted.

Revelation 20 – This chapter of Revelation, for me, is the pivot point of this book.  Satan and the Devil, already defeated at death by Jesus’ death and resurrection, is bound and finally (v10) restrained forever.

Judgement follows for me, and us all, everyone (vv 11-15).  In John’s vision, against books recording our deeds and also against the Book of Life.

These verses provide a clear view of the Bible’s expectation of what happens here on Judgement Day.  (I encourage you to refresh or inform your memory about this aspect of our Christian life.)

Matthew 16:27-28

Romans 2:5-11  
[You might like to read this passage more broadly than these six verses.]

2 Corinthians 5:10

A Prayer – Lord and Father, may I respect and treat with care those whom you bring me in contact with in whatever circumstance.  Forgive me Father, in Christ’s name, for those whom I have offended or deliberately hurt.  Help me keep observant and active in my relationships so that I treat your children, and those who do not know you, with the same respect and care that Jesus demonstrated.  I ask these things in Jesus name.  Amen.

Glenn

Revelation 19:11-21

1 Samuel 30-31, Revelation 19:11-21


Revelation 19:11b (New International Version)

11b With justice he judges and wages war.


This poetic passage contains myriad clashing symbols which challenge fine-grained interpretation. Yet, the main point is clear – the power of God through Jesus defeats all the forces arrayed against it. God’s victory is not a novel idea: it reiterates the main point of the first half of the chapter, that God is praiseworthy because he defeats all his enemies (verses 1-3).

The unveiling of the battle scene begins with one of the two opposing armies, the heavenly forces (verses 11-16). The leader of this, the Lord’s army, commands many titles, echoing terms associated with Jesus earlier in the book, like ‘Faithful and True’, ‘sharp sword’ and ‘iron rod’. The troops of heaven follow him.

The course of the action is described through the picture of a banquet. In contrast to the banquet mentioned earlier in verse 9, this one is gory and macabre. The banqueters here are the carrion birds. The story of the birds brackets the battle itself. In verse 17 they are invited to the forthcoming feast, and in verse 21 they gorge themselves with flesh of the battle-dead.

In the middle of the story of the birds, between the invitation and the consummation, the battle takes place. The battle itself occurs after the end of verse 19 and before the beginning of verse 20. In other words, it is not described at all. We move straight from the opposing armies aligning for battle to the final outcome of the battle having been decided. The consequence is that God’s enemies are defeated and destroyed.

There is no escaping that the language is explicit and gory and that the carnage is described graphically. We should not underestimate the horror of the sweeping cosmic battle between good and evil, but at the end, the victory is the Lord’s. Hallelujah! For the Lord, our God, the Almighty reigns.

 

Revelation 19:1-10

1 Samuel 28-29, Revelation 19:1-10


Revelation 19:6b (New International Version)

6b Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.


These few words capture the passage in a nutshell. We should worship God. Why? Because he is all powerful and reigns over everything.

“Hallelujah” is a well known Hebrew word meaning “Praise the Lord!” It is adopted into many languages besides English. While it occurs frequently in the Old Testament, it only occurs four times in the New Testament, and all four are in today’s passage! So then today of all days let’s take the opportunity to exclaim, “Hallelujah!”

This scene of worship in chapter 19 recalls similar scenes in chapter 4 and chapter 5. In chapter 4, the focus was on God, the creator. In chapter 5, the focus was on God, the redeemer. Here, the focus is on God, the ruler, the all powerful, the omnipotent, whom no enemy can withstand. Even the greatest challenge to Christians is defeated (v 2) and destroyed (v 3) by God. Whatever is arrayed against God, God defeats.

The flip side of the defeat of all evil is the celebration of the victory over that evil and the rejoicing of God’s people. It is compared to a wedding banquet where Jesus, the Lamb of God, meets his bride, the church, and she is arrayed in the righteous deeds of the saints.

So who is participating in this worship and praise? Both verse 1 and verse 6 describe a large and noisy multitude. The 24 elders of chapter 4, representing all God’s people through the ages, join in. And the four living creatures from chapter 4, representing all of creation, join in. And the large multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, joins in.

And a voice from the throne exclaims, ‘Praise our God, all you his servants!’ Let us rejoice and exult and give Him glory. Let us, today’s Faithful Daily Readers, join the 24 elders, the four living creatures and the shouting multitude in their praise! Hallelujah!