Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Revelation 21 – New Jerusalem

This chapter describes the New Jerusalem following the Millennium and the final judgment.  Heaven and earth are replaced by a new heaven and a new earth.  Everything is now cleansed from all sin and is ready for God’s people.  Everything is made new!  Earth had been the domain of Satan and now is purified so God can come down to the new earth.  It will be like the Garden of Eden. 

John saw a new heaven and a new earth.  The 1st earth and the 1st heaven were now gone.  Even the sea was gone.  2 Peter 3:13 says the earth will be destroyed by fire.  It will be consumed, destroyed, and completely forgotten.  Why then do we try to build riches of houses, cars, large bank accounts?  Nothing on earth is going to survive this fire.

Then John saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven.  This city is called holy because everyone who in it is holy.  It is Christ’s Kingdom.  John heard a loud voice saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”Rev. 21:1-4   

New Jerusalem comes down from heaven to us just like Jesus came down to earth to us.  God desires to dwell with us ever since the garden.  With the New Jerusalem God will be with us continually and believers will literally see Him as He is.  All sin will be gone and all tears, pain, sorrow, fear, and death will be removed.  God repairs creation and re-creates it for His children.  There will be eternal life there for all believers.  God’s dwelling with His people is His grand plan of redemption, which He has stated throughout the Bible.

How much time do you spend with Him each day?  He wants to be with you all day long every day.
What in your life needs to pass away?

John was told by God to write these words because they are trustworthy and true.  God said, “I am making everything new!”Rev. 21:5  Everything that He said will happen.  Then He said, “It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.”Rev. 21:6  God has completed His final work.  He completed creation in Genesis.  He completed His work on the cross.  Now His has completed His plan for renewing creation.  His plan is complete.  He leaves nothing unfinished.

Alpha and Omega is the A to Z in the Greek alphabet meaning He is the first and the last.  The water of life is free.  People today are thirsting for so many things that won’t give them fulfillment – like money possessions and even relationships.  Only Jesus can give you satisfaction to never thirst for anything again.  All you need to do is ask God to deepen your thirst for Him.  Then He will fill your life with satisfaction and joy.

The overcomers will inherit all this, but the unbelieving have their place in the fiery lake, the 2nd death. (Rev. 21:7-8)  There are 2 kinds of people – believers and unbelievers.  They experience 2 different lifestyles on earth and go to 2 different eternal destinies.  Believers go to eternal life.  Unbelievers will experience the 2nd death - the lake of fire, because they are vile, murderers, sexually immoral, practice magic arts, idolaters, and liars as described in verse 8.  Those whose lives are characterized by such things are evidence they are not saved and will not enter the heavenly city.  All who prefer sin to Jesus Christ are assured of the 2nd death.

How can we be overcomers?  If you have belief, faith and trust in Jesus, you have overcome the temptations of the world.  Your inheritance of eternal life is sure.  The promise of eternal fellowship with God is the believer’s reason for living and motive for witnessing to others.  Accepting Him is the most important thing you will ever do.

We all will have eternal life, but where will you spend it?

Then one of the 7 angels who had the 7 bowls of plagues called John to come and he would show him the wife of the Lamb.  At this point the marriage had already taken place.  John was carried away in the Spirit to a mountain where he saw the Holy City of Jerusalem coming down from heaven.  I am sure John had a hard time describing what he saw with human words.  He said it shone with the glory of God.  It had brilliance like precious jewels, clear as crystal.  It had a high wall with 12 gates with 12 angels at the gates.  On the gates were written the names of the 12 tribes of Israel.  Three gates were on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west.  The city wall had 12 foundations with the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb. (Rev. 21:9-14)  The Lamb’s wife is described as the new city of Jerusalem.  This is where the bride of Christ, the church will live forever.

This world is not our home.  Our home is in heaven.  There is nothing like going home.  There is no place like home.  There is a peace, joy, rest, tranquility, and a sense of belonging.  The best part is that Jesus will be there with us.  That is what heaven will be like.  John gives us a beautiful description of our heavenly home.

The city was laid out in a square, as long as it was wide.  It measured 12,000 stadia in length, wide, and high.  Its wall was 144 cubits thick and made of jasper.  The city was made of pure gold as pure as glass.  The foundations of the walls were decorated with all kinds of precious stones – jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, carnelian, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth, and amethyst.  The 12 gates were pearls.  The streets were pure gold like transparent glass.  (Rev. 21:15-21)

Who is serving as the foundation in your life?

The number 12 is considered a perfect number indicating completeness and symbolizes God’s power and authority.  There are 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles, Jacob had 12 sons, the woman in chapter 12 wears a crown with 12 stars, the Holy City has 12 gates with 12 angels, and 12 precious stones mentioned here.  The 144,000 we saw sealed in chapter 12 is 12,000 cubed.  A stadia or furlong is about 1,200 miles in length.  The city then is approximately 1,200 miles times 12,000 on each of its 4 sides so there is plenty of room for billions of God’s people who are not limited by gravity.  I love how the Bible ties everything together in a neat bow.  God leaves nothing to chance or coincidence. 

I looked up what all these precious stones were:
Jasper = Diamond
Sapphire = Brilliant blue stone
Chalcedony = Sky blue with colored stripes
Emerald = Bright green stone
Sardonyx = Red and white striped stone
Carnelian = Various shades of Red
Chrysolite = Transparent gold or yellow
Beryl = Shades of green, yellow and blue
Topaz = Yellowish green
Chrysoprase = Gold tinted green
Jacinth = blue or violet colored
Amethyst = Purple stone

Precious stones like these are highly treasured and sought after.  God treasures His people.  We are precious to Him and He seeks after us. 

John didn’t see a temple, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  It didn’t need the sun or the moon for the glory of God gives it light and the Lamb is its lamp.  It’s never nighttime.  The Lord’s glory will illuminated the city.  This city is full of the glory of God.  At no time will be gates be closed, because there will be no enemy to enter.  Nothing impure will ever enter it, only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev. 21:22-27) 

What is your source of light?
How are you letting the light of Jesus shine in your life?

This is not a city that we can really understand.  Even John probably had a hard time describing it in human language.  The city is very large, because it would have to be since it is a place for all of God’s people.  It will be the center of the new earth and a place where the Lord will be the King over all nations.  He has already dealt with the unholy and only clean and good will exist there.

Do you want to live there?  I sure do.  It will be a place of rest, a place of complete security, a place of refreshment for God’s people, a place without fear, a place of true worship, and a place of joy and holiness.  God will provide security and stability and lavish provisions for His people.  We will enjoy its beauty and unity with other believers for eternity.  We will walk in His presence.  We will have unending fellowship with Jesus.  Hallelujah! 

Why would anyone want to miss out of this?
Will I see you there?

John’s revelation says eternity is real!  Believers will go to an eternal heaven forever, but unbelievers will go to eternal punishment forever.

Next week we will study Revelation 22.  Hope to see you here.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Revelation 20

Revelation 20:1-6 – The Thousand Year Millennium         

John saw an angel coming down from heaven.  He had the key to the Abyss and a great chain in his hand.  He seized the dragon, Satan and bound him for 1,000 years.  The angel threw him into the Abyss and locked and sealed it to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the 1,000 years ended.  There he will have no power.  Then Satan will be released for only a short time. (Rev. 20:1-3)  The Abyss is the place where demons live and the place where they wait for God to punish them. 

Why would God release Satan?  First of all it’s God’s plan.  Perhaps it is to show the depravity of the human heart and how easily we can be deceived.  It proves beyond any doubt the sinfulness of man and that we all need a Savior. 

Can you imagine a life where there is no Satan?  He can’t temp anyone.  Remember there are 3 types of people who will populate the Millennium – Christians who have been raptured, Old Testament and New Testament saints, and believers who naturally survived the Battle of Armageddon.  These natural believers will live and have children and life will go on as it does today.  Those children will have to be taught about Jesus and many will not accept Him even though He will constantly be with them.  Because the nature of man is wicked, many of these children will rebel.  The earth will be filled with many people just like it is today.  There will be believers and unbelievers.

Then John saw those who had been given authority to judge sitting on thrones.  He saw souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and the Word of God.  They had not worshiped the beast or his image or received his mark.  They came to life and reigned with Christ for 1,000 years.  This is the 1st resurrection.  The 2nd death has no power over them.  The rest of the dead will not come to life until the 1,000 years has ended.  That will be the 2nd resurrection, the 2nd death.  (Rev. 20:4-6)

Believers will not suffer the 2nd death, which is the Lake of Fire.  They are safe and will live with Jesus always.  God will judge the rest of the people after the 1,000 years.  During the 1,000 years many people will have not believed and trusted God and they, too will die the 2nd death going into the Lake of Fire.

What is the 1st resurrection?  This is the resurrection to life.  This is when all believers - the church, Old Testament and Tribulation saints will be raised to life.  They will reign with Christ during the 1,000 year millennium and for eternity in heaven with Jesus.  Unbelievers will have no part in this resurrection.
What is the 2nd resurrection or 2nd Death?  This is the resurrection to death.  This happens when the millennium is over.  These are unbelievers who will be raised for eternal punishment in the lake of fire.
What is the Millennium?  Some believe this is not a literal 1,000 years, but I believe it is.  It is 1,000 years when Christ will reign as God’s promise is fulfilled.  He will rule the world with the saints of all ages – Old and New Testament saints, Tribulation saints, and the church.  All evil is gone.  Satan is locked away and cannot influence anyone.  It will be a time of peace and tranquility. 

Have you trusted in Jesus?
Do you know where you will spend eternity?
What does reigning with Jesus mean to you?

Revelation 20:7-10 – Satan’s Doom

Satan has been actively deceiving people since the Garden of Eden.  He deceived Adam and Eve and all humanity fell into a sinful nature.  He even tried to tempt Jesus.  He prowls around looking for people to devour.  He tries anything he can to defeat God and His purposes.  He is a master deceiver, a liar, and a murderer.  But God restrained Satan showing his power is limited by the mighty hand of God.

Satan’s character will have not changed in the 1,000 years.  When the 1,000 years are over, Satan will be released from his prison only for a short time and will again try to deceive people of all the nations.  He will cause nations from the four corners of the earth (Gog and Magog) to come together for war.  They will surround the city God loves.  That city is Jerusalem.  When Satan thinks he has won, fire will come down from heaven and devour them.  The Satan will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur (Lake of Fire) joining the beast and the false prophet.  They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Rev. 20:7-10) 

Why would Satan and his rebels continue to fight the Kingdom of God?  Doesn’t Satan know God will win?  Pride is the worst and most evil of all sins and this pride has blinded Satan.  Sin is deceptive and deception is Satan’s very nature. 

Revelation 20:11-15 – Great White Throne Judgment

At the end of the Millennial the Great White Throne Judgment will take place.  It will be the time of judgment for all humans throughout history who have died in their sins.  This will be the final judgment of the human race, but Christians need not fear because, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Rom. 10:9

John saw God sitting on a great white throne.  The earth and heaven had disappeared.  The earth and sky as we know it did not exist.  He saw every person who had died standing before the throne.  The books were opened.  These books contained a record of each person’s life – their every thought, word and deed.  God judged each person according to His records in the books.  Everyone who didn’t accept Jesus will have to account for their deeds.  All the dead people and those who had gone to Hades were judged and thrown into the Lake of Fire.  The Lake of Fire is the 2nd death.  This is a place of eternal punishment.  Those whose names are written in the book of life will not go into the lake of fire, because these are God’s people.  They believe in Jesus and would not suffer for their sins.  Jesus had already taken away their sins when He died on the cross.  God has raised them to eternal life to be with Him forever. (Rev. 20:11-15)

Will you experienced the 2nd death or is your name in the book of life?

Do not make that terrible mistake by not accepting Jesus as your Savior.  Place your faith in Him and ask Him to forgive your sins.  Be ready when He returns with your name in the book of life.  Believe, repent and be baptized.  Do not put it off!  Tomorrow may be too late.

What can you do to be saved and be sure your name is in the Book of Life?

1.       Admit you are a sinner – Rom.3:23, 6:23
2.      Confess Jesus is Lord – Rom. 10:9-10
3.      Repent of your sins – Luke 13:5
4.      Believe in Jesus – John 3:16; 14:6
5.      Then be baptized in obedience as a public testimony.
6.      Then to promote spiritual growth – join with other Christians in a church, pray, read the Bible, and witness.

Here is an example of a prayer you might pray:

Heavenly Father,
I come to you in prayer asking for forgiveness of my sins.  I confess with my mouth and believe with my heart that Jesus is your Son, and that He died on the cross that I might be forgiven and have eternal life in heaven.  Father, I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and I ask you right now to come into my life and be my personal Lord and Savior.  I repent of my sins and will worship you all the days of my life!  Because your Word is truth, I believe that I am now born again and cleansed by the blood of Jesus! 
In Jesus Name, Amen!

Congratulation!  If you prayed this and believed this with all you heart, you are now a member of God’s family and will spend eternity with Him.  The Christian life is not easy.  There will be hard times, but God will be with you.  There will be times you will sin and not live up to how God’s wants, but remember no one but Jesus is perfect.  Christianity is a process and you won’t get there overnight.  Just stay in His Word and keep praying and trusting in God.

Next week we will study Revelation 21 where we will learn about the New Jerusalem.  Hope to see you here.

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