Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Alpha and The Omega

   “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 
   “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” 

   Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 

   But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 
   “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” 22:12-16 


Set The Priorities


   I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.  To change the Greek to simple English, Christ is saying, I am the "A" and the "Z" in the alphabet.

  He may also have meant, I am the one who started The Church and I will be with it when the Church moves to heaven; or maybe He meant, of all the things that matter to you I am the first requisite and you will find nothing beyond me that matters more. 

   Behold, I am coming quickly! 22:7  In the previous post I said By reading it carefully, we notice that here it is not Christ that was speaking.  It is the angel who said these words.
  • However, here in 22:12, Christ starts speaking again, as is clarified by 22:16, I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify these things to you in the churches. 
  • and from the description, He gives of himself; I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. 22:13.  
  • also, that it is not the angel that is speaking these words, My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work, 22:12, is obvious from the fact that it is Christ, and not the angel, who will reward his servants.
   My reward is with me to give to every one according to his work.  To reiterate a thought made concerning 20:14, Christ will reward even non-Christians according to their work.  In this case, the word work means lifestyle.  Not only Christians will be rewarded but all those who have lived good lives and done good deeds.  At the great Judgment Seat "justice will prevail".


  Blessed are those who do his commandments has been changed by the newer translations to blessed are they that wash their robes, with variations in the wording.  One difference is that The Living Bible has it as a continuing operation; are washing their robes.  With clean robes, they have a right to partake of the tree of life and they may enter in through the gates into the city.

  Outside the city are dogs, sorcerers, those who are sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. The Jews used the word "dogs" to refer to Gentiles because, according to them, Gentiles, like dogs, are ceremonially unclean.

The Epilogue



  We need to remember that we are now in the epilogue of The Apocalypse and not in one of the “videos” which the writers saw.  Therefore, when Christ is speaking in the present tense, it is to be understood as referring to The Church age.  That is, the period of time when The Church is living on the earth, and that is why this reference to murderers, sorcerers, etc. is still applicable.

   In 21:8 we learned that those groups of people are being eternally punished.  So that in reference to time, 22:15 is actually in effect before 21:8 transpires.

   I, Jesus, have sent My angel.  This is the same angel introduced to us in 1:1; He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.  Perhaps, it is the same angel, which we met throughout the book, the one who was the writer's host. 

   I am the Root and the Offspring of David.  not the root out of which David springs, as if He would say that He is David’s Lord as well as David’s Son, but the "shoot that comes out of the stock of Jesse and the branch out of his roots that bears fruit" EBC  Or, in other words, Christ's origin and genealogy spring from king David.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Christ's Final Invitation

Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true.” And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.
    “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
    Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.
   Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
   And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.
   “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” 
22:6-11  


The Time is at Hand


Then he, the angel, said to me, these sayings are faithful and true or as Wuest# has it, these things you have heard are trustworthy and dependable.

In the statement, the Lord God of the holy prophets, the word, holy, means sanctified (made pure) and it does not infer that prophets are to be worshiped.  The prophets that were used by God were first sanctified and then used by the Lord.

   Now, in reiteration, the writer takes us back to the introduction of The Apocalypse.  The word servants, 22:6, take us back to 1:20, where the seven stars are the servants of the seven churches;

   the things that must shortly take place, 22:6, reminds us of 1:1 to show his servants --- things which must shortly take place.


Behold, I am coming quickly.  It is easy to believe that it was Christ who said these words since that is what the church has taught us, and the red-letter editions of the New Testament have those words printed in red which indicates that Christ spoke them.  

   By reading it carefully, we notice that here it is not Christ that was speaking.  It is the angel who said these words.  The Living Bible changes these words to, Then the angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true: ‘I am coming soon!’ God...has sent his angel to tell you this will happen soon.  

I fell down to worship...the angel which showed me these things.  The writer, a Jew, knew better; in another time and situation, he would not have considered worshipping an angel.  No doubt he knew this portion of scripture: You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve. Ex. 34:14.  


Be Careful Whom You Worship


Why was the writer planning to worship an angel so long after the first time he heard the voice of his host angel?  Perhaps he was awestruck at the sight of the marriage feast, or maybe at seeing all the raptured saints.  In any case, he felt that worship at that time was appropriate.  The voice said to him, do not worship me; I am a servant like you and your brothers are; Worship God. 22:9

   I am a fellow servant...of those who keep the words of this book.  Not including passing references to the book of Life, the last book that was mentioned in The Revelation was in 10:8-10 and there it was concluded that the little book was the Bible.  Here the angel again reminds us that to keep on being Christians we must keep the sayings of this book, the Bible.


Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.  In the KJV, there appears to be no distinction between this book in 22:9 and this book in 22:10.  The Living Bible has made the difference distinct by writing, this Book, with a capital "B", 22:9, by which is meant the Bible, and in 22:10 instead of using the word book they write, what you have written, which, of course, later became the last book of our Bible; The Apocalypse.

  
When Daniel received the prophecy of the last days he was told to seal the book, even to the time of the end.  Now, at the end of time, the writer of The Revelation is told Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.

   He that is unjust, let him be unjust still.  There are several very different ways of interpreting this.  One interpretation is; it is too late to change, Christ has returned and judgment is imminent.  Another interpretation is the way the Living Bible writes, All doing wrong will do it more and more, the vile will become more vile; good men will be better; those who are holy will continue on in greater holiness.

   For the testimony of (about) Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.  


“for it is of Jesus that thy brethren ... testify by the Spirit in them.” JFB


The design of prophecy is to bear testimony to Jesus. Barnes

   Whether right or wrong, The Living Bible has translated this part of 19:10 into understandable English; The purpose of all I have shown you is to tell about Jesus.
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# An Expanded Translation, K.W. Wuest.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Lamb is its Light

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. 21:1 


A New Sky; A New Earth



   Vine+++ defines the word new, like this, not “new” in time, … but “new” as to form or quality, of different nature from what is contrasted as old. Isaiah wrote, For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. Isa. 65:17.  According to Vine the earth and sky will remain but they will be different.  The rulers of the inhabitants of the new earth will periodically visit heaven to worship there.  ...the kings of the earth bring their glory and honour into it. … And they shall bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it. 21:22+24.


   
the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.  It sounds as if they cease to exist.  According to Peter also, it sounds as if the sky, the earth, and the sea will cease to exist. The heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10. 

   However, the words and meaning of the first heaven and the first earth had passed away in 
21:1 are entirely different than the words and meaning of 20:11, the earth and the heaven fled away or were quickly left behind


Inside the City


   And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
   In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
   And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.
   They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.  
22:1-4


   The word he refers to the same angle, one of the seven, who had poured out the bowls of wrath.

   This river flows In the middle of its street.  On each side of the river, but still in the centre of Main Street, as a median, is the tree of life.  The Living Bible has taken the liberty to make it more readable by writing, coursing down the centre of the main street: on each side of the river grew trees of life.  Then, as a footnote, The Living Bible has, the tree of life-used here as a collective noun, implying plurality.


  This tree (or trees) bears twelve kinds of fruit, a different kind each month. It is interesting that in heaven, the Holy City, there are also twelve months per year.  Does this thought also imply that there will be seasonal changes in the weather in heaven?  Will the leaves also change colour and fall in Autumn? Here, on earth, some fruits need warmer weather and others need cooler temperatures to produce.

  Also interesting is the fact that the leaves are for medicine for the nations, that is, for those people living on the new earth.  Certainly, they cannot be for healing those in the lake of fire; and they are not for the occupants of heaven because in that city there will be no more sorrow or pain, hence no need for medicine.

  We recall that in the story which Christ told about the rich man and Lazurus the rich man in torment asked for a drop of water to cool his tongue and Abraham's response was in your life you were well off and you had no regard for the poor, now there is no pity for you.
Luke 16:20-25. Therefore, it can be assumed that the leaves used for medicine will not be for those in torment.

  The tree of life grows fruit.  It would seem that the fruit would be for eating, it would certainly not for wasting.  Still, in spite of that, Bakers Bible Dictionary of Theology says, there is no eating or drinking (in heaven), and to substantiate that statement they cite the kingdom of God is not meat and drink,
Romans 14:17, but give it a totally false meaning.

  When Paul wrote that the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, he did not mean that we won't eat or drink in heaven.  In agreement with Paul's meaning, The Living Bible has worded Romans 14:17 correctly, after all, the important thing for us as Christians is not what we eat or drink.

  The statement, pure river of water of life surely must imply that we will be drinking from that river of life, and why would there be fruit trees if we would not be eating in heaven?

  There shall be no more curse.  This is a gigantic statement!  The curse has been the problem since Adam ate of the forbidden fruit.

  • God said to the serpent, you are cursedGenesis 3:14
  • to Adam God said, cursed is the ground for your sake. Genesis 3:17
  • to those who are trying to earn their way to heaven by keeping the laws of the Old Testament Paul wrote, for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." Gal. 3:10.  
  • Paul, quoting Deut. 21:23, said, for he who is hanged is accursed of God.  We see Christ, the Lamb of God, hanging on a tree; Cursed by Roman soldiers, cursed by Jewish law-makers, cursed by His Father - for us! 
  However, there, in heaven, shall be no more curse, for by then the Destroyer has been destroyed and Jehovah is dwelling with humans.

   His servants shall serve him, no doubt with pleasure, but not only that they shall see His face.  This applies to all those who have His name written on their foreheads as we learned in 7:5-12. 
 
  

  Note that before Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden he was already working, looking after the garden, and we have been told that The Garden of Eden is a prototype of Heaven. Work is not a curse, it is a blessing.  If we are healthy enough to work we should be thankful that we can work.
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+++ An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W.E. Vine

                                                       

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Heaven and Earth Fled Away


  Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 20:11 


The Writer on a Space Flight


  Earlier the writer said, I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 4:2.  Now the writer says, I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. 20:11.  Vine+++ tells us that the word, heaven, in this case means, the sky.  

  It is a gigantic thought to imagine that when the earth and the sky became aware that they were in God's presence they fled away in awe.   Some Bible expositors use that line of reasoning.   

  That, however, is likely not the right interpretation, because, according to their own teaching (the omnipresence of God), heaven and earth have been in the presence of God for many long ages before this incident happens so why would heaven and earth suddenly attempt to flee from the presence of God.

  A more likely interpretation is this.  The words, fled away, could mean that because the viewer was moving it created the illusion that the earth and the heaven (sky) fled away.   Could it be that the earth and the sky did not move at all but that the writer, in the presence of the great white throne, which was part of the spaceship that the writer was in, was being transported into outer space? In fact, the word, fled, does have an element of speed involved in it. Then he says, there was found no place for them; I could no longer see the place where the earth and the sky were visible before.


   But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
   The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.
   And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.
   Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).
   And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.
  But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. 
21:22-27  

I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. As long as we are mortal, we need some ritual, some formality.  However, there in eternity, we can bypass those things that help us unto God, because there we can worship Him in His actual presence. 

  While Christ was on earth, he frequently condemned his peers for being ritualistic but spiritually dead.  Once he said, You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. John 5:39-40.  He meant, you are coming close to spiritual reality, but because of your rules and rituals you are completely missing it. 

  Here we clearly see that even Bible study can be an empty ritual if the living Christ does not bless it.  While on earth, this is a constant hazard, but later, in that holy city, when we shall see Him as He is, our worship of Him will not need ritual, buildings, paintings, prayer chains or other things that lead us to worship.

  the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light.  This city, the New Jerusalem, has its own internal source of light and energy and does not need the light of the sun or moon to lighten the streets to walk on
.

the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. 21:24 
And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 21:26

  By repeating verse 24, verse 26, emphasizes the fact that, at that time, after the white throne judgement, when all Christians are safe in heaven, there are still people living on the earth, outside the Holy City, those who are not in the lake of fire; it is the rulers of those people who will bring glory and honour into the Holy City.


  Dr McGee* states, The kings of the earth bring their glory into it. This is my reason for saying that there will be a great deal of traffic commuting back and forth between the New Jerusalem and this earth down here. Not only will Israel come up there to worship, but the nations of the world, which have entered eternity will also come up. It will not be their permanent abode, but they will come up there to worship. 


  Throughout his Bible study he has been adamant that all people who are not born again must spend eternity in “hell”.  His argument here makes one wonder where he gets the people of the nations who will come and visit heaven, if they are all in perpetual eternal torment.

  The gates shall not be shut at all by day and since there is no night there, 22:5, one must assume that the gates are always open.

  Dr McGee* suggests that there will be a great deal of traffic commuting back and forth between the New Jerusalem and this earth down here.

  I will take that thought a step further and suggest that people are already travelling in space capsules to a satellite out in space. Once the Holy City "comes down" and is within reach for earth launched spaceships this space travel may become common occurrence.


  the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.  I wonder if by "kings" is meant the rich people of society.  We are already hearing of rich people who are buying tickets to take flights into space.

I find this array of thoughts completely fascinating!
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+++ An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W.E. Vine
* Through the Bible with Dr. J Vernon McGee.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Inhabitants of the New City

And I heard a great voice out of Heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 
And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor crying out, nor will there be any more pain; for the first things passed away. Rev 21:3-4  
He who overcomes will inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. Rev 21:7  
But the fearful, and the unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, will have their part in the Lake burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. Rev 21:8  
 And the nations of those who are saved will walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Rev 21:24 
 And there shall in no way enter into it anything that defiles, or any making an abomination or a lie; but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Rev 21:27 

Some Will Enter, Some won't


  By reading the last phrase of this chapter we can confirm who these are that are saved: they are the ones who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  We see again, that not all those whose names are not in the Book of Life are in torment, for if they were, who are those kings of the earth who bring their glory and honor into the city21:24.  If those who are saved all live in the city, and those who are not saved are in the lake of fire, what is the purpose of a new earth, since it would have no inhabitants?


Quoting Dr McGee* again, The children of Israel will be among the multitudes who come into this city to worship in eternity. They will come from the earth to bring their worship and glory.  This statement states that even the Old Testament saints that "walked with God" did not make it into heaven.   I cannot accept that teaching!  Is Jehovah really Anti-Semitic?

According to this study the Bible teaches that, at first, in eternity, there will be four categories of humans: 

1. The first ones are the martyrs. They reign with Christ for one thousand years. I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the Word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast nor his image, nor had received his mark on their foreheads, nor in their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 20:4 

  This is the same one thousand years in which Satan is bound in the bottomless pit.  After that time, they move into the Holy City when it descends.  Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 21:3

2.  The second are those who are saved, 21:24, the blood washed multitudes from all nations of the world.  The term for these, in Christian circles is, “those who are born again”.  

  Immediately, after the white throne judgment, they will enter the holy city, the place we usually call heaven.  It is then that Christians will join those who were martyred for Jesus.  There is no teaching in the Bible of a place out there somewhere, way beyond our imagination, that we will go to when we die. 

  We need to realign our thinking to agree with the teachings of the Bible. According to the description given in The Apocalypse heaven is a physical realm with dwelling places, streets and a wall to keep out those who may not enter.  The city has food to eat and water to drink.  It also grows trees, the leaves of which are, used for medicine for those who still dwell on earth.  We can surmise this because there is no sickness in heaven.


3. Third are those who did not accept Christ but they lived good, clean, honest lives.   They will not spend eternity in fiery anguish but they will be the inhabitants of the new earth.  These are the people, whose kings will come to visit the holy city: and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. 21:24.

  4. 
Fourth are those who turn back from following Christ because of fear, the cowards, or because of false doctrines, those without faith.  It also includes murderers; pimps; drug dealers; it includes those who knew better, but who willfully, deliberately disobeyed the cardinal basic rules of decent humanity.  But as for the cowards and those without faith and those who are disgusting in their filth and murderers and fornicators and those practicing spiritism and idolaters and all the liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This means the second death. Rev 21:8 NW.

  It is interesting that in the Greek text, in place of and those practicing spiritism we find this very modern prevailing sin listed; a sin found mostly in the younger generation: and to druggers.  Two thousand years ago the writer of The Revelation already predicted the coming of the curse of street drugs.  Now countries are jostling to get into line to be the next one to make it legal!

Those who insisted on living the lifestyle mentioned in this verse, and never in their life repented of their evil actions must, according to the rules of their Creator, pay the price in torment.
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* Through the Bible with Dr. J Vernon McGee.