Wednesday, September 23, 2015

God's Prophecy - Introduction to Revelation

Revelation is a book of prophecy.  God wants to bless us through prophecy and anchor us with a firm foundation.  “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”Rev. 1:3.  Revelation is when God shows His truth to us.  God shows us what we must do and say.  He shows Himself through Jesus Christ.  It’s all about Jesus.  It tells us about the future climax of world history with God’s final judgment.  He will judge those who don’t believe in Him.  For those who do believe it is a book of joy.

Prophecy is from God.  God speaks through prophets.  True prophecy is not manipulated by man.  Bible prophecy is always fulfilled, because God is sovereign and controls history.  We can know when a prophecy is true when it doesn’t contradict scripture, when it keeps God in the center, and when it’s confirmed by events in history.  There are a lot of false prophets and prophecies today so how do we know it they are true?  “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive the elect…”  No one knows when Jesus will return. (Matthew 24:24-29).  So we need to be discerning, prayerful and ready when He does come.  We can know by false prophets by their fruit or their actions.  Their actions speak much louder than their words. 

The book of Daniel is a book of prophecy and talks about the End Times.  In Daniel 12:4 Daniel is told to close up and seal the words of the scroll or the book until the time of the end.  This was done because it could not be understood until more prophesied events were unfolded.  Then as events predicted would be unfolded, it would be clearer and we could understand the prophecy, the Book of Revelation.  Jesus said He told the future before it happened so when it does happen we will believe.  (John 13:19; 14:29).

There are many, many prophecies that have been fulfilled.  In Isaiah7:14 we see Isaiah’s prophecy of the birth of a Savior, Jesus by a virgin.  In Micah 5:2 we see Jesus birth place of Bethlehem foretold.  In Isaiah 53:3-6 we see that Jesus will be rejected and hated, but will still die for all mankind.

It is important to know that Bible records fulfilled prophecies, because it reveals God’s sovereignty.  It brings us comfort and hope.  It takes away our fears and builds our faith.

The purpose of Revelation is to reveal the full identity of Christ and to give warnings and hope and encouragement to believers.  It shows God’s servants things that will take place in the future.  It is for all of us, because we are all His servants.  It shows all the events leading up to the “Day of the Lord” referenced many times throughout the Bible.  Jesus speaks through John.  He says these things will take place soon.  It may be today, tomorrow or next week.  In God’s timing “…with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day” - 2 Peter 3:8.  Whenever this happens, we can see He is giving us a warning to be watchful and expectant and be ready for what is to come.

The outline of Revelation is found in Rev. 1:19 -“Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things.”  The events in Revelation were prophesied in the book of Daniel.  These prophesies have been and are being fulfilled and others will be fulfilled.  This vision of John will unfold in the following chapters.

God promises His blessings on us 7 times in Revelation.  Rev. 1:3 is considered to be the key verse in Revelation.  This is the only book that promises a blessing to those who read and hear its message.  The blessing is for everyone.  You however must do what it says.  It tells you what to expect and what to do when the wonderful as well as terrible times come.  During the last 7 years Satan will reign over the earth.  This is called the Great Tribulation.  We need to know all the things that will happen and how to handle all the events that follow those 7 years.

People today want to know the future in many ways.  They go to fortune tellers, use tarot cards, use crystals, read palms, read books on End Times, and even use astrology.  The only future we need to know is what the Bible tells us.  The Bible gives us many prophesies.  2 Peter 2:19-20 tells us true prophecy doesn’t originate with man, but that the prophets spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.  In John 13 Jesus says He is telling us the future before it happens so when it happens we will believe.  God is the only one to know and foretells the future.

Jesus through John writes to 7 churches.  These churches represent all the churches of God, now and throughout history.  He also writes to the angels of the 7 churches.  They are responsible for getting the message to the churches, just as we are responsible to get the message of Jesus to others.

Do you tell others about your Jesus?
Do you tell them how He has blessed your life?

Revelation tells of the “second coming” of Jesus.  “Look, he is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him.  So shall it be!  Amen.”Rev. 1:7.  In 1 Thess. 4:16-17 there is more about His return.  This is hope for all believers!  We will see throughout Revelation more and more details of His coming.

He gives warnings to the churches and the consequences that will come to those who continue in disobedience and unbelief.  Then Jesus will open 7 seals and judgments for mankind and earth.  Then there will be Jesus’ second coming and His 1,000 year reign called the Millennium with Satan being bound.  Then Satan will be released for a short time after which he and his followers will be destroyed in the Lake of Fire.  Then we will see the Great White Throne judgment, which is the final judgment and then there will be a new heaven, a new earth, and a New Jerusalem.  God is then finished with His work.

What do you need to do to make yourself ready?
Do you trust God's Word?
Who else is more worthy of your faith?

Revelation is divided into 3 sections:
Rev. 1 - the things John had seen in his vision of Christ. 
Rev. 2-3 - the things which are, what is now – the situations of the 7 churches. 
Rev. 4-5 -the things that are to take place in heaven after these things – the future events. 
Rev. 6-22 - the things which will take place on earth after these things – the future events.

God's people can follow Him with confidence, because He controls the future. 
Prophecy is God confiding in His people for their good.

“Behold, I am coming soon!  Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.” Rev. 22:7.

As you begin to study God’s Word, remember the truth is being revealed.  Do your part.  Study and allow God to do His part so He can guide you to His truth.  Always begin with prayer.

Now get ready to be amazed and enlightened by what you are going to read and learn.  Join me next week when we will study Revelation 1.  Hope to see you here.


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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Revelation - The Bible

The Bible is God’s Word.  It’s 1 BIG story.  It’s God’s story.  It’s a story of Himself and His purpose for man.  Who is God?  God was there before all things.  He is the Holy Creator and unlike anyone.  He desires to be with us and wants a relationship with every person.   He created us in His image so we are an exceptional value to Him.  He has a plan for us and the world and nothing can stop His perfect plan.

God reveals himself in many ways, but mainly He chose to reveal himself through his Word.  The Bible was written over 1500 years ago.  It was written by 40 different people, in 3 different languages and on 3 different continents.  Each writer of the books in the Bible reflect his own personality, but the words and truth are God's. 

There are 66 books in the Bible – 39 in Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament.  It has high standards of morality and is the best-selling book that the world has ever known.  No book has ever been more analyzed or criticized.  Why is it attacked?  It’s the revelation of God whose message demands must be destroyed or obeyed.  Many times people have tried to destroy it.

The Bible is about:
How the universe and the human race started, how humans sinned and how the suffering started, and how the human rescue plan of God started - Gen 3:15 (the promise).
The Bible reveals:
God, his creation, his unlimited power and wisdom, his laws, a God of moral standards, history with God in control, Jesus as a God of compassion, God’s solution to sin, his special people in a special place, a special family, a special child:  John 3:16  (fulfillment of his promise)
It also reveals in the book of Revelation the future with a new heaven and a new earth without pain and cruelty.  Only the righteous will be there with the Lord.

75 % of the Bible is Old Testament.  Jesus came to fulfill the OT prophecy.  God tells how, why and when Jesus, the Messiah would come.  Proverbs 30:5-6 tells us His Word is flawless.  Revelation 22:19 tells us not to add or take words away from it.  We should not sit around and argue about what it says.  It implies complete authority and we should not debate over it. 

Hebrews 4:12“For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”   So matter what your age, 10 – 110, it can speak to us.

When you read the word of God, do you believe it is God speaking to you or do you read it and then just go back to your regular life? 
If God came in person and told you to stop stealing or cheating, or whatever, wouldn’t you say, “OK, I will”? 
Why wouldn’t you do it, if God’s Word says to do the same thing?

2 Timothy 3:16-17All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

2 Peter 1:20-21 “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”.

The purpose of the Bible is essential for:
            Salvation – it reveals God, ourselves, our Savior
            Teaching – foundation of what we believe
            Conviction – it’s the test of our action
            Training – the rod of discipline

Why do we believe it’s true?
            The Prophets – spoke for God.
            Jesus – the Spirit will guide you into all truth.
            Paul – we speak in words taught by the Spirit.
            Peter – not clearly invented myths, but an eyewitness.
            John – we proclaim what we’ve seen. 
            It speaks with authority. 
            Many gave their lives for it. 
            By listening and weighing the evidence.

God created Adam and Eve in the beginning.  They chose to act independently from God.  They sinned and died spiritually and because of their sin, they would also die physically.  Now we are all under the curse of sin.  We sin when we gossip, tell lies, with adultery, idol worship, etc.  Because of sin, we are separated from God. 

In the Old Testament God provided a way for man to restore their relationships with Him by setting up blood sacrifices with animals, but this was only a temporary solution.  We needed a Savior.  God Himself came to earth through His Son, Jesus.  Jesus came to save the people from their sins.  He was accused and condemned by religious authorities and the Roman Empire.  He was sentenced to die on a cross.  Jesus went willingly.  He died a horrible death, but after 3 days He arose from the dead demonstrating His power and victory over the consequences of sin, which is death.  His resurrection guaranteed new life for all who believe in Him.

After His death the Holy Spirit was sent to us to guide us how to live.  Jesus promised one day He would return and take His people, the church, to heaven to be with Him forever.  We see this in the end of God’s story in the book of Revelation.  The book of Revelation will be fulfilled exactly how all the other prophecies have been fulfilled.  God started history and He will finish it.  All His plans will come to pass.

Jesus is woven throughout the Bible and Revelation tells us the end of the story.  It ends with the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus and the judgment of those who do not and will not believe in Him.  What an awesome study this will be!

We, too are part of this story.  We have a chance to change to world.  Like Jesus’ disciples who traveled the world telling others about Him, we can spread the good news about Jesus to the unsaved before it’s too late.

The unsaved don’t know they are headed for destruction and judgment.  Who do you know who needs a SaviorWill you share His love and truth with them before it's too late?

God created the world and mankind for His glorious purposes.
Sin separates us from God and His perfect plan.
The curse is removed to all who trust in Jesus our living Savior.
Those with faith in Jesus find great hope in God’s promises of perfect restoration.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Revelation Overview

People don’t read or study Revelation as much as other books of the Bible, because they don’t understand it or they are fearful of what it says.  BSF (Bible Study International) will begin a study of Revelation in the fall.  I will be posting my insights then, but for now I thought I would post an overview to get you interested.

Revelation means the act of revealing or disclosing something.  This is about Jesus revealing Himself to us.  Why study this book?  Jesus wants us to be encouraged, to know the ending, and be aware of what’s going to happen so we’re not afraid.  Then we can stand firm when the Anti-Christ comes and tries to deceive us.  He wants us to be steadfast in our Christian walk, have sound doctrine, and be separated from false teachings.

God the father gave God the Son the Revelation for Him in turn to give to His angel, then to John.  He wants to reveal what must soon take place.  John testifies to what he saw.  Revelation is written by the Apostle John while in he was in exile on the Island of Patmos.  This book was written to give hope and encouragement to Christians who need to know God is in control and will someday judge and punish evil.  Then He will establish His everlasting kingdom with a new heaven and a new earth.

It begins with letters of correction to 7 churches.  Then 7 Judgments are revealed – 7 Seals, 7 Triumphs, and 7 Bowl Judgments.   Rev. 1:3 is the only place in the Bible that blesses those who read it and heed it.  “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near”.  This should be encouraging to us who study Revelation. 

The Key Verse or Outline of Revelation is Rev. 1:19“Write therefore the things which you have seen and the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things.”

Chapter 1
Things you have seen.
Verse 1 – tells us that this book is the Revelation of Jesus Christ and is from God to Jesus to the angel and then to John and then to us.  Revelation means to unveil or disclose.
Verse 11 - The angel told John to write in a book what he sees, and send it to the seven churches.
Verse 13 – Lampstands are the churches – Jesus was in the middle of the churches to protect them.

Chapters 2-3 
Things which are (messages to the churches).

Chapters 4-22
Things which shall take place after these things.

Chapter 5
The Lamb (Jesus) is the only one worthy to break the seal of the scrolls.  God couldn’t open it, because He had given the right to man to rule the earth and Jesus was without sin and has overcome the devil so He had to be the one. 

Chapter 6
Start of the judgments – 6 seals broken. (John sees what the future holds.)
1st seal – one on a white horse with bow, a crown is given to him, he went out conquering
2nd seal – one on a red horse to take peace from earth, and that men should slay one another, he had great sword.
3rd seal – one on a black horse with a pair of scales (sounds like famine to follow).
4th seal – one on an ashen horse named Death and Hades followed him, he was given authority to kill with sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts.
5th seal – John saw those killed during the tribulation.
6th seal – there was great a earthquake, sun became black, moon became like blood, stars fell, sky was split apart, mountains and islands moved from their places.  Verse 17“great day of wrath has come…”

Chapter 7
144,000 sealed – these are the believing Jews with the seal of salvation, sealed during the Great Tribulation

Chapter 8
7th seal broken – 7 angels with 7 trumpets
1st angel – came hail & fire mixed w/blood, thrown to earth, 1/3 of
earth burned up, 1/3 of trees burned up and all green grass burned up
2nd angel – something like a great mountain burning w/fire thrown into sea, 1/3 of sea became blood, 1/3 of the creatures in sea died, 1/3 of ships destroyed
3rd angel – great star called Wormwood fell from heaven burning like torch, 1/3 fell on rivers & streams making waters become wormwood, men died from the water, made it bitter
4th angel – 1/3 of sun and 1/3 of moon and 1/3 of stars were darkened so 1/3 of the day and night were darkened
3 WOES! - Last 3 angels’ trumpets were about to sound

Chapter 9
5th angel – star from heaven fell to earth with key to bottomless pit which
opened, smoke went up like furnace, sun and air were darkened.  Out of the pit came locust as big as horses and power was given them as scorpions.  They could only hurt men who didn’t have the seal of God.  They could not kill anyone, only torment for 5 months.   
1st WOE is past, 2 more to come.
6th angel – told to release 4 angels who are bound.  They were released to kill 1/3 of mankind.  200 million horsemen with fire, smoke, & brimstone coming out of their mouths killed 1/3 of mankind. Rest of mankind did not repent.

Chapter 10 
Another angel with a little book, John told to eat book, book was bitter.

Chapter 11
2 witnesses given authority to prophesy for 1260 days. (Some believe that Elijah is one of the witnesses – (Malachi 4:1-5, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord”). They have power to shut up the sky, turn water to blood, and smite with plagues.
The Beast will come out of the abyss and attack them & kill them, their bodies lie in street 3 ½ days, God gives them breath, resurrecting them and they go to heaven.
Great earthquake – 1/10th of city fell, 7,000 killed the rest were terrified and gave glory to God – but did not repent!  
2nd WOE is past, 3rd WOE is coming quickly.
7th angel - starts 3rd WOE. “Thou hast begun to reign”.  Nations enraged, God’s wrath has come, time for dead to be judged, saints rewarded, time to destroy those who destroy the earth.  Temple of God opened, Ark of Covenant appeared, lightning, thunder, earthquake, great hailstorm. 

Chapter 12
Signs in heaven – woman, which is Israel and red dragon, which is Satan.
War in heaven is with Michael and angels with dragon and his angels.  “The great dragon was Hurled down…”Rev. 12:9.  Meaning the dragon (devil) could not go back and forth from heaven to earth anymore.  He was thrown down to the earth & sea, because he will have great wrath for he knows he has only a short time left.

Chapter 13
1st beast, which is Anti-Christ given power & authority by dragon performs signs.  Tod gave him power for 42 months.
2nd beast, which is False Prophet (Rev 19:20), makes earth worship the 1st beast, can perform great signs also, deceives the earth, makes image of 1st beast and makes earth worship him, gives breath to the image or be killed, makes people of earth take the mark of the beast – if not, they can’t buy or sell w/o the mark, 666.

Chapter 14
This chapter could be an overview of the bowls or 7th trumpet.  
144,000 are now in heaven.
Another angel - “Fear God His judgment has come”
2nd angel - “Fallen is Babylon the great”
3rd angel – “Whoever takes mark will be tormented…”
4th angel – “…hour to reap has come.” Son of Man on a cloud swung His sickle and earth was reaped.
5th angel – also had a sharp sickle
6th angel – had power over fire, “Put in your sharp sickle and gather vine of the earth.”
Blood from wine press up to horses’ bridles for 200 miles.

Chapter 15
7 angels with 7 plagues with them the wrath of God is finished, victory over the beast, they came out of temple, 7 angels given 7 bowls full of wrath of God.

Chapter 16
1st bowl poured on earth became loathsome and malignant sore upon men with mark of Beast
2nd bowl poured into sea, became blood, every living thing died
3rd bowl poured into rivers & springs, became blood of the saints & prophets
4th bowl poured upon sun and scorched men with fire, they refused to repent
5th bowl poured upon throne of beast, his kingdom darkened/gnawed their tongues with pain, they blasphemed God & refused to repent
6th bowl poured upon Euphrates River, it dried up, gathered kings for Armageddon
7th bowl poured upon the air, voice said “It is done.”
Lightning, thunder, great earthquake, city split, cities of nations fell, Babylon remembered by God for His wrath, hailstones, men blasphemed God

Chapter 17
Woman (Babylon) sitting on scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names with 7 heads & 10 horns, drunk w/blood of saint & witnesses.
Beast – 7 heads = 7 kings goes to destruction, 10 horns = 10 kings receive authority for 1 hour, was war against the Lamb, but Lamb will overcome them.   

Chapter 18
Fall of Babylon

Chapter 19
Multitude in heaven rejoices, Marriage of Lamb, wedding supper of the Lamb, Lord comes on white horse who judges & wages war, armies in heaven follow Him.

Chapter 20
Angel with key to abyss, bound dragon (Satan) for 1,000 years, threw him into abyss so he couldn't deceive the nations until 1,000 years was complete, then he will be released for a short time.
1st resurrection – those who did not receive the mark – Rev. 20:4
After 1,000 reign the unbelievers will be brought to life which is the 2nd resurrection.
After 1,000 year reign, Satan released and will go out to deceive the world for a short time, then will be thrown in lake of fire with false prophet.
Great White Throne Judgment – dead judged if name not written in Book of Life, thrown into Lake of Fire.

Chapter 21
New Heaven, New Earth, New Jerusalem
John saw New Jerusalem –
12 gates (name of 12 tribes on them
12 foundations stones (name of 12 apostles)
1500 miles – length, width, height
Wall – 72 yards
City – gold, adorned w/precious stones
Streets – pure gold
No temple – Lord God & Lamb are its temple
No sun or moon, the glory of God will illumine it; its lamp is the Lamb.
Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be there.

Chapter 22
River of life coming from throne of God & Lamb, Tree of Life, no longer any curse, no longer night, throne of God & Lamb shall be in it, they shall reign forever, behold I am coming quickly, my reward is with Me.
“Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” – Rev 22:7
“If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book”Re. 22:19
I hope you will join me next time as we begin to study the book of Revelation.  Please let me know if this is helpful.

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