Promise of Eternity II

revelation-21

 “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”  Revelation 21:2

The goal in our Christian life is to be apart from sin-not to allow ourselves to be influenced to compromise our faith and life in Christ.

When we choose to mix or add in evil and try to rationalize evil away, we become the evil people Revelation talks about and the fools that the Proverbs talk about.  We must be above reproach and open to inspection when we claim Christ as Lord.  Our faith matters, because what we do and say does indeed echo into and throughout eternity.  Our spiritual growth affects our moral success and failures (2 Cor. 5:10).  We will give an account and Christ our Lord will wipe away our tears!

Take a careful read of Revelation 21 without any preconceived notions, take in God’s marvelous Word.

New Jerusalem means God comes to us.  Jerusalem refers to the city where God reigns and where He is among His people. It represents the holiness and eminence, as Jerusalem is a place of gathering, community, and worship in Jewish culture and faith.  It was also a place for Israel to be a blessing and evangelist to the world. Where the world came to Israel to see a magnificent Temple and then they would hear about a One True God who takes cares for His people. Their gods they worshiped were petty, conniving, hateful and had no care. So, all people groups of the earth would send their tradesmen, diplomats, war, spies, and travelers too, though the hub, where The Temple sat, of the world’s trade routes.

For Now, this is reversed, as Christ in us, we go to the world. Then, we may have a further fulfillment at Christ’s return.

The contrast is, then, in the Old Jerusalem, where they journeyed to meet Him.  Now, the New Jerusalem is God who journeys to meet them. In ancient Judaism, this theme also meant “hope.” It is also a position and representation of the people of God, “His people,” as a bride of God. Here, it is pointing to Christ as Messiah and our hope. Christ and His Kingdom are the New Jerusalem.  Faithfulness is the key that opens to us the door to life in the New Jerusalem (Gen. 12:1-3; Neh. 11:1-18; Psalm 87:5-6; Is. 48:2; 52:1; 54:11-12; 62:12; 65:17-18; John 1:14; 13:34; 16:33; Gal. 4:26; Phil. 1; Heb. 11-10; 12:22; 1 John 4:20; 5:4-5; Rev. 2:11, 17, 26; 3:5-13, 12, 21; 19:7; 21:1-22:5).

This is further set in by this key word, Bride.  This is an identification of His people and an image of our Redeemer’s intimacy and the community between God and His children (Eph. 5:31-32; Rev. 19:7).

The key word, Throne… dwelling of God, means, “God is among us!” It refers to the Tabernacle-how God resides among His people, and the theme of “Immanuel.”   Tabernacle and Sanctuary are images of the Old Testament Tabernacle tent that was God’s heavenly dwelling. As a throne, this refers to the inner sanctum of God’s most holy of holies where the Ark, with the two tablets of the Testimony Moses brought from Mount Sinai dwelt.  This represented God’s home on earth as a “copy” of God’s Throne Room, made for His presence in the inner chamber of Jewish Temples and the Tabernacle, a tent used before the Temple was built by Solomon.  Now, John sees the real heavenly version has been brought down to us. This is very significant in Christian redemption (Ex. 24:9-11; 25:8-9, 40; 29:45; 32:15; 37: 24-28; 43:7-10; Lev. 26:11-12; Deut 10:5; 1 Kings 6:12-13; 22:19; Is. 8:8-10; 51:16; Ezek. 37: 24-28; Zech. 2:11; Dan. 7:9-10; Matt. 1:22-23; 13:38; John 8:42-45; 2 Cor. 6:16; Heb. 8:1-6; 9:1-14; Rev. 3:12; 4:1; 7:15; 11:19; 14:15-17; 15:5-16:1, 16:17; 21:22).

Jesus tells us in John 14:1-4 that we have an Eternity waiting for us! 

Father’s house, means Heaven where God’s presence dwells with us, as opposed to Hell where God’s presence is absent. This is our ultimate future hope and residence, our future reward and our current motivation to pursue righteousness.  Classically, in Judaism, this meant the Temple, God’s dwelling on earth, where God dwelt amongst His people. Here, this refers to our heavenly dwelling place that God prepares for us that no mere human words could ever describe (Ezek. 43:7-9; 44:9-16; 48:11, 35; Luke 16:9; John 8:35; 14:28; Acts 1:10-11; Rom. 5:2; 1 Cor. 15:16-19; Heb. 7:25; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; 1 John 2:1).

 

Promise of Eternity PI

eternity b

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.” Revelation 21:1

John 14:1-4; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10; Revelation 21:1-4

What to expect? Total renovation!  God will be making all things new, and we have hope beyond wonder as a new heaven and a new earth will be formed.  We can take comfort that God will remove evil from humanity, separating out the good. The old earth and heaven will be restored prior to sin; even fear will be gone.  In Revelation, everyone is celebrating, shouting that the presence of God is now among us all, as God Himself now lives with us and within us for eternity.

Then, the greatest comfort is given; God wipes away all of our sorrows and fears so there is no more death, suffering, or pain as evil is wiped away for good.

God’s Word is true and trustworthy.  He reveals one of His names, the first and last, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.  He promises refreshment to quench the thirst of all who are victorious in Christ, who will inherit everlasting life.  Christ gives us springs of water without charging us what is owed, and thus, His grace continues.  But, God will also keep His promise of judgment; all those who are evil will be removed from those who are good, and all those evil people will be sent to hell for all eternity.

New, in context, means “rejuvenated.”  God is changing the “old order of things,” but that does not necessarily mean He is replacing it.  As Paul states, we are being reconditioned in Christ by our “new” covenant of grace, as the “old” is passed away (Gen 3:17; Is. 51:15-16; 65:17; 66:22; Rom. 8:18-23; 2 Cor. 5:17).

New heaven and a new earth. This theme comes from Isaiah 65, teaching that God will completely and thoroughly accomplish and achieve His purpose throughout the universe.  As Christians, we will be “transfigured” so we will have no ties to the old nature of sin and evil.  An “extreme makeover” where the entire creation is restored to its original parameters-before sin corrupted everything-and we receive our new bodies (Gen. 1:1; Is. 42:9; 48:6; 51:15-16; 65:17-25; 66:22; 1 Cor. 15:35-57).

This IS God the Creator, Redeemer, and Consummator communing with us and making a total transformation and renovation of His creation!

He will bring all things to fruition. He will bring peace and a future to those in Christ!  As magnificent as this is, it is only the backdrop of what will be going on; the far more spectacular “center stage” is that God IS among us.  He is our Lord, Protector, and Sustainer.  He will remove the evil; so those who are in Him will never hear, “depart from me.” Rather, we will hear “come to me and I will give you rest.” He has saved us, but here is how He continues to save us as His grace is continually at work, involved, and shepherding us now and for eternity. He promises us all things new, and for those who reject Him, all things of judgment.  In the meantime, we have Christ in us now, empowering us-a preview, and a real, effectual presence and hope for us now. This is to inspire us for faith, reliability, and steadfastness in our Christian life (Ex. 33:14; Matt. 7:23; 11:28-30; 25:41; John 5:22).

Our lives here on earth, whether joyful or in suffering, is not the end of the story!  God will achieve His purpose; we will inherit His wonders and blessings!

Christ will “wipe away every tear.” This must resound in us not just for our personal hope and comfort, but also to enable us to trust in Christ for all things and situations.  Those in Christ are His and His for all time; there is no fear or dread when we are with our Lord King.  He IS the Alpha and Omega.  He will bring all things new to those who know and love Him, and judgment to those who fight Him. We can be encouraged, as we have hope, reason, and purpose, to be faithful because of our confidence in Him, producing active faith that glorifies Christ and builds His kingdom (Eph 1:14; Heb. 12: 18-29)!

 

 

 

 

Scoffers on the Second Coming PIII

Read, 2 Peter 3: 1-9

Have you ever thought that God seems slow? What needs to take place so we can understand that we can have patience and trust in Him and His timing? 

Because it has been nearly two thousand years since Christ’s ascension and proclamation to return, many people have given up and even stated, perhaps Jesus is not coming back. But is this valid? No. If we take God’s Word as true, then we know He is coming back. If we really read the Scriptures and see that God lives outside of space and time and is not governed by our physical or temporal laws of physics or humanity, then we can easily see two thousand years is nothing for God. Besides, this is an aspect of grace to give humanity time to consider the implication of God’s sovereignty and our convection to receive Him as Lord.

For God, time is totally relative and in the scope of eternity. This does not necessarily refer to a literal timeline. Rather, that God’s view and perspective of things is not our view and the converse thereof. This long wait is an aspect of His sovereignty (Psalm 90:4).

We have no knowledge of God’s timing! Thus we are not to forget or refuse to heed to God’s Lordship when we feel impatient.

Patient means that our God is a long-suffering God. When God delays His judgment, this means He is demonstrating His love, grace, and forbearance for the consummation of His purpose. We are to take comfort in that He is a God of grace and mercy and is patient with us when we do not deserve it. He seeks our repentance and trust. Therefore, we have no need to be impatient or confused or allow the mocking or misleading of others to distract us from His purpose and plan (John 6:39).

It seems that God is slow to us, but He is in absolute control and we can have patience and trust in Him and His timing. We are impatient with our thinking and expectations, whereas God is patient, allowing His grace and plan to work out. There is no need to make up dates or predict His Second Coming. We are called to be obedient and wait actively in His Word and truth.

Peter is restating his purpose of being an encourager and, at the same time, is shepherding them. A shepherd protects his sheep. If the sheep run astray, he will do what it takes to keep them safe and put, even if he has to break their legs so they will not be eaten.

A pastor needs to root out false teachers and discipline those who cause others to stumble. If not, others will fall prey to things that are misleading, counterfeit, and dangerous.

We can’t just look the other way, hoping all will work out. We have to be proactive and engage the enemy, even the ones in our own flock. Of course, we do this in love-but not just with feelings of love because we will not feel like loving them and, unless one has a disparaging personality, dispensing discipline will not be a joy.

However, we are called to act and to do so within the Fruit of the Spirit and love, carrying a staff to remove the wolves that desire to carry off our flock.

What does Revelation 20:7-15 mean to us now?

 

This passage is, besides being about death, judgment, and hell, also about the evils of determined pride. Pride is sin; it is the terror and oppressor of good people, the cause of the Fall, the fall of those who then become evil, and the main fuel of Satan himself. Pride is evil! Pride is the chief universal struggle of humanity and what holds us back and condemns us more than anything else.  

Satan is a betrayer who seeks evil and fights against God, righteousness, goodness, and all those who follow Christ. Yes, he is no match to God. Satan has been judged; his sentence is eternal damnation by his choice and deeds, where he will be tormented by his own evil that activates with all those who joined in his evil against God and His people. We can take great comfort that God protects and fights on our behalf. We can trust Him and not worry or fret over the things we can’t control or change. Our place is with Christ—now and forever more.  

Evil people think they can get away with it; they think they can frustrate those who are good—even God Himself. But, they cannot; there is no escape from God, His love, or His wrath. In the end, evil loses big! God will hold evil, injustice, and sufferings, and severely punish all those who produce them!  

Questions to ponder:

  1. Why can we never think we can hide our innermost thoughts and deeds from God? How can this be a comfort for us? How does the fact that God is omniscient—all knowing—help you make better decisions for your life? How is your faith strengthened, knowing that evil will never get away with its actions? 
  1. How would others you know estimate your conduct before God and man? How would your church be assessed by its community? 
  1. What if God judged you according to what you had done? What would He find? How can this passage help you see the character and wonders of God? 
  1.  Why does it do no one any good to fight God? Why do people do so anyway? After all this peace and prosperity, why will people oppose God, seeking evil and lining up to Satan’s side? What are the causes and motivations for people to hunt those who are good and fight against God and His people?   

© 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org

 

The Three Prevailing Millennium Views, Amillennial, Premillennial, and Postmillennial

 

1.    Amillennialism: They believe that Satan was bound at the cross of Christ and His work. Some take a futurist view that he is temporally held back and then will be bound in the future. Satan is let loose for a short time where he goes on the prowl, seeking to destroy the Church at the end of days, but he will be unsuccessful. Because Satan sought to persecute the Church, he is persecuted, judged, and sentenced to eternal damnation. This passage also represents Christ and His victory over death on the cross. For us, it further means we have no fear of death or judgment when we are in Christ. The fire and judgment of God represents those who are evil being consumed by God’s just wrath in one universal judgment where the wicked go to hell and Christians receive their reward. All this coincides with the Second Coming of Christ and then the rebuilding or creating of a new heaven and earth. 

 

2.    Premillennialism: This view sees a chronological sequence as Satan is bound in the future when Christ returns and before Christians receive their reward, and then the millennium commences, hence the name, “pre”. This makes two distinct judgments—one for Christians and one for non-Christians after the millennium. Then, Christ reigns on earth as the full extent of God’s kingdom lasts for 1,000 literal years. Most see this happening in Jerusalem, Israel. Jesus will judge the wicked; then, a new earth is created after Christ returns and after His 1,000 year reign (of course there are many divergent views in this camp, but this is the prominent view). 

 

3.    Postmillennialism: This view sees this passage as the successes of the spread of the gospel, which we, the Church, are responsible for and the resulting conversion of all or most of humanity to Christianity. The binding of Satan will greatly help the spread of Christianity; then will come a great future age of peace and prosperity for the Church. Then, Satan is let loose for a final period of persecution; after that, those who are in Christ are resurrected as Christ returns (of course there are many divergent views in this camp too, but this is the prominent view). 

 

Ironically, this is considered the most controversial passage in the Bible, the one over which most fights and divisions for Christians occur. Scripture is very clear in most places, but there are passages like this one that are hard to understand; if we are really willing to examine and look to the Spirit, we will have a better idea of its real, intended meaning. The sad fact is, most do not read the passage in its context and meaning; rather, many people seek an agenda and fight with all they can to prove it regardless of facts, ignoring effectual procedures to know and read God’s Word effectively. In addition, sincere Christians hold different views on non-essential theology like this, over which there is no reason to have disunity and strife! What is essential is that Christ will return, and as of this writing, He has not yet arrived in His second coming form (Col. 3:4). A final judgment will take place where all peoples will be judged; the righteous will be rewarded and the wicked will be held to account (Matt .25:31-46; John 5:28-29). 

 

Exegetical look into Revelation 20:12-15

 

  • The Book of Life. This is basically the heavenly roster of the saints who have been found to be faithful by Christ, who received their election, and who persevered. All ancient cities had rosters of those who lived there, and those that were added and expelled, as taking a census. Like a city roster, the Book of Life contains the names of all the people who are currently living. When a person dies, if he or she has claimed Jesus as Lord, has received his or her election, has let it become rooted in him or her, and has been faithful and obedient, their name remains in this book. All others are blotted out. This also refers to predestination. Once our names are in His book and we are saved by His grace, we are secure in our faith and have eternal security (Ex. 32:32-33; Psalm 69:28; Dan. 12:1; Mal. 3:16; Rom. 9:19-21; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:1-6; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12-15; 21:19, 27).
  • Judged according to what they had done. God keeps account and we are accountable. This does not mean we earn our salvation; rather, what we have done with it gives us rewards, and damnation to those who reject it. Evil is the evidence of one’s rejection of Christ, runaway pride, and agnosticism toward God. When one repents, the sins and offences before God are cancelled. For us, Jesus pays the debt and our good works are the gratitude and evidence of what He has done in and for us. This is a good place to assess one’s conduct before God and man (Psalm 62:12; Prov. 24:12; Jer. 17:10; 32:19; Ezek. 18:21-30; Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 10:43, Rom. 2:6; 3:23; Col. 2:13-15; 1 Pet. 1:17; 1 John 1:9).
  • Sea refers that all the souls ever created are accounted for.
  • Hades refers to Hell, the “abode of the dead,” the general place for those who have died, between death and resurrection of the dead for Jews and Greeks. Hell is normally used for eternal punishment. It comes from the Greek god of the underworld. To Jews, prior to the first century, it was represented as “Sheol,” or “the grave.” The term Gates of Hades refers to the realm and power of death and not necessarily the actual place of Hell. This phrase expresses that death itself shall not stop we who are in Christ. Death cannot silence His message or His church—great words of hope and comfort for the persecuted Church! It is now represented as “hell” and those who are under judgment (Job 38:17; Psalm 9:13; Luke 16:19-31 and 1 Enoch).
  • Lake of fire/Lake of burning sulfur means the final place of residence for Satan and evil; it is his judgment and the defeat of evil! Those who rebel against God have no hope; if there is no repentance, all that remains for them is eternal damnation. (See Revelation 19:20 study.)
  • Death and Hades/hell. Because of the word usage and context, this indicates Hell, the place of everlasting torment. It is the very worse thing that can ever happen to anyone, and the ultimate fear and dread. It is also a place the wicked send them selves because they do not want to be with God. It is a place of extreme suffering and anguish, and yet a place of grace, because a loving God does not force anyone to be with Him that would not want to be (2 King 16:3; 23:10; Is. 30:33; 66:15; Jer 7:31; Joel 2:3; Dan. 7:11; Matt. 5:22; 16:18; Mark 9:43; Rev. 14:9-10; 19:20; 20:10-15; 21:8; also1 Enoch 54:1).
  • Second death. The first death means when we physically die, we leave our earthly existence and then go into eternity for rewards and to wait for the resurrection of our body in some form we do not yet understand and a wondrous everlasting life in Christ. For the reason that Jesus has defeated death. This second death means that those who fail to accept Christ will also be resurrected, only to “die again” as in sentenced into the “lake of fire.” Some Jews, like the Sadducees, believed this was annihilation, but the Bible does not teach annihilation  that the sole is destroyed and we do not exist anymore, as both evil and good souls will continue to subsist (John 5:28-29; Rev. 19:20; 20:10-15).
  • Was not found. This is not good; once this happens it is too late to say “I am sorry,” and repent! To the Jews, if one followed the law and was faithful to God, he or she was saved. If they were evil and worshipped false gods, they would be held to account and be judged and condemned. God is exclusive and supreme; nothing comes before Him (Duet. 6:4-9; 1 John 2:23).

 

Exegetical look into Revelation 20:7-11

 

  • Satan will be released. It is interesting to note that Satan is unchanged, unrepentant, and uncaring; he picks up where he left off, with deception and evil. Apparently, hell is not for reform; it is for protection, as the faithful being protected from the evil, and a place for evil to be held where they want. This too is an aspect of grace.
  • Gog and Magog. This comes from Ezekiel 38-39, and refers to the enemies of Israel from the land of Magog where Gog was a prince or ruler. According to Josephus, these were perhaps the Scythians from the north. These names occur many times in apocalyptic language, and basically mean those who have hostility and are enemies of God and His people. Here, it can mean those who rise up to fight God in any way and/or the last enemies of God who rise up collectively in a grand climatic battle, which never takes place because God puts a stop to it. A lot of speculation is read into these names, but it is not really intended to be cryptic or esoteric (Ezek. 37-39; Rev. 16:14).
  • Surrounded the camp of God’s people. This was a common happening and fear of the Israelites. If they were faithful, God protected them; if they were disloyal to Him, God would allow evil people to be His instruments to bring judgment to them (Zech. 12:3; 14:2; Rev. 16:13-16).
  • Fire came down. This is a theme of judgment for those who are evil, and protection to those who are faithful (Gen. 1:24; Ex. 13:21; Lev. 10:2; 2 Kings 1:10; Ezek. 39:6; Zech. 2:5).
  • The devil… was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur …for ever and ever. Ancient Jewish literature spoke of Satan being judged and condemned. God is “immutable” meaning He is unchangeable and unchallengeable; it is a great comfort to know nothing can thwart God’s plan, purpose, and reign (Psalm 102:27; Col 1:15-18; 2:9; Hebrews 6:17-18)!
  • Will be tormented. This is a reference that those who are evil judge themselves by knowingly refusing God and His offer of grace. This also shows that the wicked will not be annihilated (Rev. 14:10-11; 19:20; 20:10). 
  • White throne. Signifies a heavenly, eminent throne that gives a contrast to man’s pride. God dethrones the earthly, pompous kings and the pride of men, and rather points to His dignity and prestige. God is showing His eminence and importance. He is solely Pre-eminent and Supreme. This is also an image of the Old Testament Tabernacle where the “copy” of God’s Throne Room, made for His presence, was made known. Now, John sees the real heavenly version in a corporal state to condescend to his and our understanding (Ex. 24:9-11; 25: 40;1 Kings 5-7; 22:19; 2 Chron. 2-4; Isa. 6; Ezek. 1; 10:1; Dan. 7:9-10; Heb. 8:5-6; 9:1-14; Rev. 3:12; 4:2; 7:15; 11:19; 14:15-17; 15:5-16:1, 16:17; 21:22).
  • Earth and sky fled shows the cosmic and universal scope of God’s judgment and His sovereign rule.  Perhaps, it refers to Isaiah 34:4 and how a reader would open a scroll with the right hand and then role it up with the left. This is an image that the End of Days is at hand, and also a sign for the coming of Christ. Some see this as Armageddon (Isa. 24:21; 34:4; Jer. 4:24; Nahum 1:5; Dan. 8:10; 10:13; Mark 13:25-26; Rev. 6:14; 16:16, 20; 20:11).
  • Books were opened, meaning all is disclosed and made known publicly. We can never mistakenly think that our innermost thoughts and deeds can be hidden from God. He is omniscient—all knowing; thus, evil will never get away with its actions (Psalms 147:5; Job 22:12-14; Is. 40:28; 37:16; Rom. 11:33-34; 1 John 3:19-20, and 4 Ezra).