Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Monday, December 26, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Dec 27, Rev 1-5

Today's readings are Rev 1-5. Tomorrow's are Rev 6-11.

Revelation brings the story of redemption through Jesus Christ to its climactic ending. The story started out in the Garden with God declaring everything as good. Adam falls into sin, evil enters into the narrative and the storyline of the entire Bible becomes a documentary of how God redeems His children and His creation through the sacrifice of His only Son, restoring everything back to "good."

Revelation can be cryptic and hard to interpret. Perhaps the best way to read it is to look at the big picture rather than try to discern the meaning of all the math, the symbols and the present day equivalents of countries, kings and leaders. In the end, Revelation tells us God is victorious and His kingdom is established for all eternity in a new heaven and a new garden (the new earth). The end result is a new creation that exceeds the old one in every way.

Revelation was written by John in the later years of the first century. It is expressly written as the words of Christ to seven churches.

The first chapters start out with an affirmation of Christ and detail letters written to each of seven churches. It would be a mistake to think the messages to the churches are unique to those churches and have no application to us. In reality, the seven churches are a diverse lot, representing all possible flavors of churches that comprise the body of Christ. They have their parallels in today’s church as well.

By the near-end of the first century, in spite of seeing all the miracles and hearing all the phenomenal teaching, the new church has fallen into some of the same traps into which the Jews had fallen. A few are doing OK, a few more are struggling and a few more have stumbled pretty badly. One, Laodicea, seems to have completely shut Christ out of their services. Could there be a better representation of the state of some churches today?

Still, they are proclaimed the "lampstands" and Christ walks among them, a sign of the faithfulness of God, even when His church is struggling. There is a clear warning that suffering is on the way for all of the churches, not due to their failure, but because it is part of His plan for the last days, which we are in presently and have been since the ascension of Christ.

Rev 4 & 5 set the stage for the suffering of the churches to heighten at the hand of the world in which they exist. These chapters also portray the coming judgment of the Lamb upon the world and all those who would cause His bride to suffer. God is absolutely sovereign over all that happens and is pictured as seated on His throne, surrounded by His divine delegation. The book of judgment is opened by Christ, the only One able to do so, for He is the One who was slain. This is the final judgment that will fall upon those who reject Him. All heaven rejoices and worships Him. He judges those who refuse.

Rather than looking at these events as some future occurrence, we should see them as the ongoing process of God refining His church, preparing it for glory.  The suffering and persecution have been happening all along, as has the gradual falling away of some. Yet, God is gracious and "walks among His lampstands" faithful to prepare them for this coming battle and the victory He has already guaranteed His children. 

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