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.” 

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.
# 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.  

   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.

+++ An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W.E. Vine