Posts Tagged ‘Obedience’

Revelation 20

Revelation 20 has John describing the removal of Satan, sin and death – at least for a while.  “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended”.  Satan tried to imprison Jesus in a tomb, but couldn’t. Here, God has no problem restraining Satan, and this incarceration is not for punishment, but restraint.  He will be allowed out after 1000 years.

So what happens during this 1000 year reign of Christ – the Millennium as it is often referred?  There are lots of different ideas and interpretations around what happens.  One thing we know is that Jesus Christ will reign, and some of the saints will be there with Him.  “They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years”.  The saints will administrate the kingdom of Jesus Christ over the earth, reigning over those who pass from the earth of the Great Tribulation to the earth of the Millennium.  Not all believers will be raised during this first resurrection.

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years”.  Guzik writes ‘This first resurrection is the granting of resurrection life in resurrection bodies to all those who are dead in Jesus.

  • This is a resurrection of blessing (blessed and holy is the one)
  • This is a resurrection of power (over the second death has no power)
  • This is a resurrection of privilege (they will be priests of God … will reign with Him a thousand years)’

These verses create much discussion around the rapture and the exact order of events that will happen during the end times.  I don’t claim to know any more than who wins – God and Jesus Christ will end victorious!

John does give us some details on what that final victory will look like:

  • when the thousand years are ended,  Satan will be released
  • will come out to deceive the nations
  • gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea
  • fire came down from heaven and consumed them
  • the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire
  • they will be tormented day and night forever and ever

We win.  Satan and his evil forces take one last run at taking on God and Christ – but they are soundly defeated and sent away forever!

But that’s not the end of the story.  Then comes judgment from Him who is seated on “a great white throne”.  We’ll all stand before God someday and account for what we have done.  “I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened”.  Some believe that God doesn’t pay attention and keep score.  That is not true.  How we live matters.  What we do with Jesus matters even more.  We’re going to be compared against what is writing in “the book of life”.   It will determine our eternity.  “And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done”.  Everyone will give account.  The outcome is black and white and final.  We won’t be bargaining with God.  “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire”.  That’s not the outcome we want.  We need to address our sin and get right with God.  Jesus is the only way for that to happen.  Don’t wait.  There will be no second chance when standing before Him!


Revelation 18

Revelation 18 continues John’s revealing of Babylon.  In chapter 17, John describes Babylon as a religious city, while in chapter 18, the view is of Babylon as a commercial city.  “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living”.

Guzik writes about the city this way.  ‘There are definite similarities between Babylon as described in Revelation 17 and Revelation 18.  Both are under the rule of Antichrist, and have ruling queens; both are filled with blasphemy; both hate the saints, and shed their blood; both are associates with kings in fornication; and both are under judgment and destroyed.  However, there are also some significant differences:

Religious Babylon (Rev. 17) Commercial Babylon (Rev. 18)
1. Mystery Babylon 1. Great Babylon; Babylon the Great
2. Symbol: a harlot woman 2. Symbol: a great city
3. Identified with Rome (inland) 3. Identified with a port city
4. Woman, whore, and mother 4. Habitation, great city, market place
5. Guilty: religious abominations 5. Guilty: greed, self-indulgence
6. Destroyed by a political power
that previously supported her
6. Destroyed by a sudden act of God

The counsel is clear – we need to get away from bad influences in our lives.  “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities”.  The guidance is clear – we need to flee anything that causes us to be drawn into sin.  That applies to us right here, right now too.  We need to pay attention carefully to the people we hang out with.  We need to recognize the influence of the church we are part of (or aren’t).  We need to surround ourselves with godly influence and run from any influence that will drag us away from God and being a Christ Follower walking in obedience to Him.

Sin always carries a huge price.  Babylon, whether a great literal city, or merely a rhetorical place, will pay a stiff penalty for its sin.  “For in a single hour your judgment has come…. For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste….For in a single hour she has been laid waste”.  It goes from boom to bust in an instant when God calls it to account and passes judgment upon it for the way it.  What is the price of sin?  It costs us everything.  It brings God’s judgment and will separate us from Him for eternity.  It’s why Jesus came to earth – to give us an opportunity to overcome the penalty of sin through His shed blood on the cross.  God has made a way.  We merely need to confess, repent and receive His gift of grace through Jesus!

Revelation 17

Revelation 17 begins a two chapter discussion on the fall of Babylon, a place mentioned 287 times in scripture, second only to Jerusalem.  Babylon was a literal city on the Euphrates River and was hostile toward God.  In general terms, the name Babylon is associated with organized idolatry, blasphemy and the persecution of God’s people.  It’s concept is far beyond a city or place, but throughout history has been presented as the world system that is opposed to God.  It is beyond a religious movement and includes economic and commercial aspects as well.

This chapter begins the prophecy of the fall of Babylon.  I won’t try to interpret what John writes here in detail.  Guzik writes “As a religious system, Babylon came into being long before Christianity, but in Satanic imitation it anticipated the coming true Messiah. According to religious history and legend, the Babylonian religion was founded by the wife of Nimrod (a great-grandson of Noah), named Semiramis. She was a high priestess of idol worship, and she gave birth to a son who she claimed was conceived miraculously. The son, named Tammuz, was considered a savior. It was also said that Tammuz was killed by a wild beast and then miraculously brought back to life. Baal was the local, Canaanite name for the Babylonian Tammuz”.

John is carried away in the spirit to see the future.  “And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come”.  Deceit will continue to be a big part of the activity during the end times.  The enemy will not only cause people to believe what is not true, but will have the power to cause people to come together in ways that are unexpected, with those who were enemies now becoming part of the same team.  “These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast”.

He will unify them against Christ.  Whatever their exact identity, their actions are clear. They ally with the Antichrist in the war against Christ.  “They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful”.  There will be a unified front against the King of Kings.  But even this is done under God’s plan.  “God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled”.  And the best news of all – we know who wins!  No matter who comes against Christ, it won’t matter.  Jesus wins!

Revelation 14

Revelation 14 has John telling of God’s victory and the beast’s defeat. “Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him  144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads”. Since they stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb, it shows that they emerge victorious from the great tribulation. The beast of Revelation 13 certainly has not defeated the 144,000; here they are triumphant, worshipping, and standing firm with Jesus.  That’s the good news of Revelation – we know that Jesus Christ is victorious and with Him all who are His!

John describes an angel who flies around proclaiming the gospel.  The angel preaches the gospel, but also announces judgment, and tells the people everywhere to Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water”.  This is how we all should see God.  He is Creator, Judge, and worthy of our praise.  He has made all things and is in charge of all things and will judge all things and before Him all of us will stand and give account.

How we live on earth matters.  “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus”. The endurance and work of the saints is remembered in heaven. Our work for the Lord goes with us into heaven, giving dignity and significance to all work here below.  God is paying attention.  Our works will not go unnoticed.  If we live in obedience and serve the Lord faithfully, there will be a reward.  God is watching how we live and how we live out our faith in Christ.

John finishes the chapter by describing the “harvest of the earth” by to angels with sickles who cut away and reap.  The scene is powerful and complete as all the earth is cut down.  It is a vivid, powerful description that shows how complete the judgment of God is.  Nothing will be overlooked or left untouched.  God will reap those who have real faith in Christ.  This is when true believers will be separated from those who merely go to church – at the final harvest.  We will all stand before Him some day.  It won’t matter our church affiliation.  All that matters is whether or not we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  That is the only factor that will determine where we end up!

Revelation 2

Revelation 2 begins the letters to the seven churches which all share a similar structure. In this chapter four of the churches are addressed. In each letter John gives:

  • An address to a particular congregation
  • An introduction of Jesus
  • A statement regarding the condition of the church
  • A verdict from Jesus regarding the condition of the church
  • A command from Jesus to the church
  • A general exhortation to all Christians
  • A promise of reward

We can see the condition of each of these seven churches and then apply those learnings to our own walk with Jesus by examining what Jesus has to say to each church.

The good each church has or is doing is called out.  The church at Ephesus gets this review.  “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary”.  Some glowing and positive comments.  These kinds of statements are made about each church.  But then comes the reality on the condition of the churches.

Again, for the church at Ephesus John writes “you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first”.  John’s charge is for the church to return to their first love – a passion to walk closely with Christ.  He tells them to:

  • Remember how you used to spend time in His Word?
  • Remember how you used to pray?
  • Remember the joy in getting together with other Christians?
  • Remember how excited you were about telling others about Jesus?

Each of the four churches in this chapter, have similar areas they need to change.  In some, there is sin that needs confessed and repented of.  But in all, there are areas where the church has fallen away and in order to get things back on track some repentance is needed.  John tells us to “hold fast” to the Truth of God’s Word and walk in obedience to His commandments.

Lest we think this doesn’t apply to us, John ends with these words.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”.  The lessons we can learn here in how these four churches (and the other three in the next chapter) are confronted is important.  This letter applies to each of us as Christ Followers.  The struggles these churches faced are similar to ours.  We’re all human after all, and sin is a very real threat to our faithfulness in walking with Jesus.  We all need to confess, repent and return to our first love for Christ.  He lives in us and wants to live through us, but we must clean up our lives and allow Him to have control.


Jude writes to warn the church of some bad people that are leading folks astray.  “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our  common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”.  His intention was to write about salvation, but the church was struggling and he wants to address it head on.  “But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively….they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain”.

Scripture is filled with prophecy warning about those who would come and work to tear down the church.  The enemy has been trying to do that since God banished him in the Garden.  “These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters,  showing favoritism to gain advantage”.  The common thread for those who destroy the church is a focus on self and what they can gain, rather than serving and focusing on others.  Being a Christ Followers is not about what we get for ourselves, but how we can love one another.

Jude warns “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions. It is these who cause divisions, worldly people,  devoid of the Spirit”.  Those who are set on causing destruction and division are not filled with the Spirit, but are focused on our own world view of self.  “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life”.  The secret of a successful life as a Christ Follower is being connected to God and His love through Christ.  It’s not about us.  It’s about being plugged into Him.

Jude reminds us what the mission is – “have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy  with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh”.  We are to snatch those who are struggling from the fire and restore them to their faith.  We can’t do it on our own, but we can be His instrument that brings them back.  “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless”.  Jesus can keep us on the path and will present us blameless when we stand before God.  But we need to follow Him, and to receive His free gift of grace.  He is our salvation and truth.

3 John

John 3 has our writer talking about following good examples in life.  He focuses on those who are walking as Christ Followers should.  “I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth”.  Nothing pleased John more than to know that his children walk in truth.  How we live matters, not only to us, but to all those around us.  “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth”. To walk in truth means to walk consistent with the truth you believe. If you believe that you are fallen, then walk in awareness of your sinfulness. If you believe you are a child of God, then walk like a child of His. If you believe you are forgiven, the walk like a person who stands pure before God Himself.

But Gaius, the recipient of this letter, was doing more than walking in truth. Gaius practices the command to love one another. “Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God”. John praised Gaius for his hospitality. This may seem somewhat trivial to us, but it is not to God. This is a practical way to live out the command to love one another; it is love in action.  Love is not a feeling.  It is action.

John challenges Gaius to also be a sender.  He’s not only praised for receiving those who came to worship in truth, but is to send people out to carry and share the good news, not merely with a farewell, but with support so they can carry on the mission of Jesus Christ.  “We ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth”.  John prays for the prosperity of Gaius because he used his resources in a godly way, being a blessing to others. If God blessed him with more, others would be blessed more also.

John warns of some bad eggs in the church.  It’s never easy to be a Christ Follower, as the enemy is always stirring things and trying to disrupt the world we live in. John warns us to walk in the truth, just as he started with praise in the first part of this letter for Gaius. “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God”.  John winds down his letter with a stern warning to do what is good – it should be an outcome of our faith.  How we live doesn’t save us, but it does indicate our heart and where we are in relationship with God.

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