Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Revelation 5 - The Scroll and the Lamb

In this chapter we see the scroll with 7 seals that no one could open until the Lion of Judah, the Lamb came and was worthy to open them.  “Worthy is the lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”Rev. 5:12.   They sang this is a loud voice (Rev. 5:12) 

John saw a scroll with writings on both sides and sealed with 7 seals.  The writing on both sides means it is complete and there is nothing to add to it.  A strong angel (some translations say a mighty angel) said no one was worthy to open the scroll.  These strong angels are mentioned 3 times in Revelation.  These angels are not identified; they are special and proclaim God’s revelation.  God could not open it, because He had given the right to man to rule the earth.  John wept and wept, because he seemed to know the importance of this scroll.  John felt hopeless, but God never leaves us hopeless.  Then an elder told John to stop weeping, because the Lion of Judah, the Root of David has overcome and He could open it.  That was Jesus, the Messiah who was foretold in Genesis 49:9-10, Samuel 7, Isaiah and others books in the Old Testament.

Then John saw a Lamb standing there as if slain meaning He was slain, but now is alive.  He had 7 horns and 7 eyes, which are the 7 Spirits of God.  The Horns indicate great power.  The eyes show He knows everything and nothing is hidden from Him.  The 7 Spirits show His completeness, the Trinity.  The Lamb took the book and the creatures and elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb.  They had with them harps and golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.  This Lamb was Jesus.  Then they sang a new song, “You are worthy, to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slain and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”Rev. 5:9-10. 

He was the only one worthy to open the scroll and the song tells just why He was worthy:
He is the Lamb who had been slain.  He died on a cross for the sins of us all.  Now He lives.
His death provides a ransom for His people.  He bought us freedom from the power of sin.
He makes His people into a kingdom and priests who serve God here on earth.

Then John saw thousands and thousands of angels around the throne and together with the creatures and elders they sang a song of praise.  “Worthy is the lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”Rev. 5:12.  You will notice in this verse there are 7 qualities indicating perfection.  Then every creature in heaven and on earth sang, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Rev. 5:13.

Wow!  You see a lot of worshipping going on and if anyone deserves it, it is Jesus.  All I can say is WOW!

How are you in awe toward Jesus and what He has done?
Does this chapter challenge you to be more worshipful?
How does this influence your daily worship?
What difference does the exalted Christ make in the way you think and live?

Join me next week we continue our study.  Hope to see you here.


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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Revelation 4 - The Heavenly Throne

Worship in Heaven

In our studies of Revelation so far we saw that John wrote to the 7 churches as directed by Jesus.  He was told to write the things he saw, what is now, and what will take place later.  The letters to the churches are what is now.  Now John is shown the heavenly throne in Revelation 4.  This is the start of visions shown to John starting with a description of heaven, including the throne, elders, creatures, and what they are doing.

John heard a voice calling him to come up to heaven so he could be shown what will take place next.  John enters heaven and was in the Spirit - meaning he was in a vision.  He describes what he saw.  John saw God sitting on His heavenly throne.  God is the King of all kings and is the One with all power.  He is the One who controls all of history in heaven and on earth.  He has the end of history planned and He shows John what will happen. 

The throne is in the center of heaven and all of heaven looked to the throne and all worship Him.  God seems to not have a physical body, but one as a bright light shining through precious stones, which showed the glory of God.   Before the throne he described the floor of God’s throne room as a sea of glass.   (Rev. 4:1-3).  This was only John’s impression as he was probably unable to really find words to describe what he saw.  Can you image?  I am sure he was in awe of God’s glory.

In these first verses we can see the Trinity.  I see the door as being Jesus, the One on the throne of course is God and the 7 lamps of fire is the Holy Spirit.

Around the throne were 24 elders on 24 thrones.  These are heavenly beings who serve and worship God.  Some say these are the 12 patriarchs of Israel (the 12 sons of Jacob) and the 12 disciples of Jesus, but we really don’t know exactly who they are.  They wore white clothes and crowns.  The white clothes mean that are clean from any sin and symbolized their purity and victory in Christ.  All believers are promised white garment of righteousness.  Their crowns show they are royalty.  (Rev. 4:4) 

There was lightning and thunder indicating the power of God.  This is the sound of God’s judgment.  God is beautiful yet terrifying at the same time.  There were 7 lamps of fire which represent the Holy Spirit.  He appears as fire in other places in the Bible.  The number 7 means perfection or completeness. (Rev. 4:5-6a).

In the center around the throne were 4 living creatures - a lion, an ox, one with a face one like a man, and an eagle.  They were possibly located in four directions: north, east, south, and west.  This shows that they were strong like a lion, full of power like an ox, wise like a wise man, and fast like a flying eagle.  Each had eyes in front and back and 6 wings.  The eyes could mean they could see everything.  Nothing was hidden from them.  The wings could mean they had speed when obeying God.  These creatures represent the entire created order of animals and mankind.  The creatures constantly praised and gave glory, honor and thanks to the Lord saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”Rev. 4:6b-8  They express praises of the holy, powerful, and eternal nature of God.

What do these words really mean? 
Holy, holy, holy  - God is perfect and without flaws.  Every part of God’s nature is holy.
Lord God Almighty – God is in control and has His hand in everything.  It shows His power and authority over all.
Who is, and is and is to come - God has always existed and will always exist.  He is active and present.

How do you give glory to God?   We can give Him glory and worship by acknowledging Him, by worshipping, by our gratitude, by recognizing and submitting to His authority, by repenting of sin and following His Word.  He is the object of true worship in heaven and it should be here on earth for us as well.  He is worthy of our worship.

The elders lay their crowns before the throne.  This is an act of honor and respectfully acknowledges God is the source and authority over everything we have.  He is the giver of every gift.  Crowns will be given to the faithful and we will lay our crowns at His feet, because all our rewards come from Him.  No one else, not any king or anyone is worthy of such honor and praise as God.

When the creatures praised God, the elders would fall down before the throne and worship the Lord, because He is the supreme Ruler, the King of Kings and Creator of all things.  The job of these elders was to solely give praises to God.  “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you crated all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”Rev. 4:11.

Can you image standing before the throne a seeing and worshiping the one true living God?  One day we will be right there in heaven before His throne.  Oh, what a day of glorious worship that will be!  Wait until you see Him!  We will be like the elders and creatures and never tire of giving Him praise.  That will be our job to worship Him.

How often do you think of God?
What is worship to you?
How do you worship God?
Are you frightened by John’s vision?
What do you think you will do when your see God?

God is Creator of all things, and everyone and everything owes their existence to Him.
God has always existed and will always exist.
The throne of God reveals God’s limitless power and eternal rule.
Our Creator God is worthy of all honor, glory and worship.

Next week we will study Revelation 5 where John’s vision continues.  Hope to see you here.


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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Daniel 1-2, 6-7

Daniel 1 – Daniel’s Faithfulness

In the 3rd year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Jerusalem was taken captive by the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar.  God allowed them to be delivered into Babylon’s hands along with some of the articles from the temple.  King Nebuchadnezzar chose the brightest young men from the Israelite families to serve in his palace.  Among them were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.  They were given new names.  Daniel given the name Belteshazzar; Hananiah was given Shadrach; Mishael was given Meshach; Azariah was given Abednego. (Dan. 1-7)  Daniel was a teenager, about 17 years old.

Daniel didn’t want to defile himself with the king’s rich food and wine so he asked the guard if they would eat only vegetables and water.  He ask to let them do this for 10 days and then compare their appearance with the others who at the rich food.  The guard agreed.  At the end of the 10 days Daniel and his friends looked healthier that the others.  Since they were so faithful to God by not defiling themselves, God gave the 4 knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.  Daniel was able to understand dreams and visions.  The king was pleased and they entered into the service of the king. (Dan. 8-21)

Daniel’s life changed when he was captured.  Why?  God had a bigger purpose for him.  The king tried to change Daniel and his friend’s thinking and make them citizens of Babylon, but God’s kingdom is in every location and in every person.  Whether you believe Him or not, He is the ruler of all.  As Creator, He rules all things.  Daniel shows us what it’s like to be in the kingdom of God.  As we submit and obey Him, we are expanding His kingdom on earth.  God’s kingdom is here and now and also in the future.  God is in charge.

I am sure it was very hard to resist the charms of Babylon.  Babylon was all about self.  It was a philosophy, an attitude, and all about indulgent choices.  It was about beauty and self-absorption.  We live in a Babylonian time.  We are surrounded by a Babylon of our own.  In this day and time the world is all about ME.  As a nation we believe in luxury, culture, education and beauty.  We have everything, yet we are still not happy and satisfied.  Daniel and his friends resisted Babylon’s poisonous harms.  They are great examples for us to resist our Babylon.

Do you have the strength of Daniel to resist worldly choices?
How does Daniel encourage you?
How has God blessed you in your faithfulness?

Daniel 2 – Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream.  He called on all his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he dream and what it meant.  If they couldn’t, he would have them cut into pieces.  Then the astrologers remember Daniel who could interpret dreams so they call upon him.  Daniel and his friends prayed that God would reveal the dream and that night God did just that.  God revealed to Daniel the mystery of the dream.  Daniel was faithful to God and God was faithful to Daniel.  Daniel told the king what his dream was and what it meant.  He praised God for His wisdom, power, knowledge and for revealing to Daniel the meaning of the dream.  Daniel didn’t take credit for his wisdom, but told the king that the God in heaven is the one who reveals mysteries. (Dan. 2:1-28)

The dream was of an enormous statue.  The head was made of pure gold.  The chest and arms were silver.  Its belly and thighs were bronze.  Its legs were iron and its feet were part iron and baked clay.  Then a rock was cut out not by human hands, struck the statue’s feet and smashed them.  Then the rest of the status was broken into pieces.  The broken pieces were swept away without leaving a trace.  Then the rock became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. (Dan. 2:31-45)

Each of the parts of the statue represents a world empire. 
The head was Babylon - historical fulfillment in 626-539 B.C.
The chest and arms was the Medo-Persian Empire – historical fulfillment 539-331 B.C.
The belly and thighs were the Greek Empire – historical fulfillment 331-63 B.C.
The legs were the Roman Empire – historical fulfillment 63 B.C. – A.D. 476.
The feet could be the outgrowth of the divided Roman Empire.  The toes and feet may represent a political system yet to come.  The ten horns foretell a ten kingdom confederacy that will operate jointly at the time of Christ’s return.  (Dan. 7:7, 24; Rev. 13:1; 17:12)
The rock represents the kingdom of the Messiah, which will fill the whole earth.

History has proven Daniel’s interpretations.  Earthly kingdoms come and go, but the Kingdom of God will last forever.  It will NEVER be destroyed.

How is this encouraging to you?
How does the promise of God’s kingdom give you hope in the future?
What is your view of God’s authority?

Daniel 6 – Daniel in the Lion’s Den

Daniel was put in charge of all the king’s wise men.  He had distinguished himself among the others.  They became jealous of Daniel, but couldn’t find a way to discredit him.  They came up with a plan.  They told the king that he should order everyone to pray only to the king and not to other gods or they would be thrown to the lions.  I am sure this flattered the king so he agreed.  They knew this would finally be the end of Daniel, because they knew he would pray to God.

This didn’t stop Daniel.  He continued to pray 3 times a day to God with his windows open.  Of course he was found out and put into the lion’s den.  We all know the end of this story.  God saved Daniel.   Daniel said, “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions.”  Dan. 6:21.

Daniel was loyal to God, but loyalty to God’s kingdom often comes at a personal cost.  He doesn’t always rescue us when persecuted.  Sometimes rescue comes with suffering or even death.  With death we are rescued from this world then we can be with Him in heaven.

What hard choices do you have to make to be faithful to God?
How could you faithfully impact those around you?

Daniel 7 – Daniel’s Dream

(Note:  Chapter 6 and 7 are not in chronological order.  At the end of chapter 6 Daniel is about 80 years old.  In chapter 7 is about 68 years.)

Now Daniel was about 68 years old and he himself had a dream.  In his dream he saw 4 heavenly winds churning up the sea and 4 great beats came up out of the sea.  The first was like a lion with wings of an eagle.  The second was like a bear.  The third was like a leopard with 4 heads and was given authority to rule.  The fourth beast had 4 horns and was frightening and very powerful.  Daniel then saw a little horn that came up among the others.  This horn had eyes like a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.  (Dan. 7:1-8)

Verse 17 interprets the sea to be symbolic to the earth and the 4 beast to be 4 earthly kingdoms.  We saw these kingdoms in chapter 2 in the form of the statue.

 Then Daniel saw the Ancient of Days (God) seated on His throne.  He was clothed in white with hair like white wool.  The throne was blazing with fire.  There was a river of fire coming out from the throne.  Thousands attended Him.  The court was seated and the books were opened.  This is the Great White Throne Judgment and the books are considered to be the book of deeds.  God is about to judge the little horn, which is the Anti-Christ.  See Rev. 20.

This should give you great confidence in God and His dominion over all the earth.  God is in control and in charge and there is nothing or no one greater or more powerful.

Then Daniel saw the judgment of the beasts and little horn (Anti-Christ).  (Dan. 7:11-12)  Then he saw one like a son of man (Jesus) coming in the clouds.  The Ancient of Days gave him authority, glory and sovereign power over all people and nations.   All men worshiped Him and His dominion is everlasting and will never be destroyed.  (Dan. 7:13-14)

Daniel said he was deeply troubled by what he saw.  Does this trouble you or does it give you hope and encouragement?  I have mixed feelings here.  I am sadden that there will be those who will suffer, but encouraged that God is in charge and He will win in the end.

Next week we will get back to Revelation and study chapter 4 – The Heavenly Throne Room.  Hope to see you here.


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