Posts by rickbarbareblog

I am a retired Clergyman and a retired College instructor. I live in Trenton, SC in Edgefield County.

Malachi 3:17—God’s People are His Treasured Possession

Malachi 3:17-18

Image above is from https://www.greatbigcanvas.com/view/illustration-of-shepherd-separating-his-sheep-from-the-goats-gospel-of-matthew,1907843/

If you are like I am, your memories of Malachi are pretty much Malachi 3:10—

10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

Tithes

In fact, I remember the song based on Malachi 3:10 rather than the scripture text itself.

1 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,
All your money, talents, time and love;
Consecrate them all upon the altar,
While your Savior from above speaks sweetly,

Chorus:
Trust Me, try Me, prove Me, saith the Lord of hosts, and see
If a blessing, unmeasured blessing,
I will not pour out on thee. (see Leech, below; author pictured on the right). leech_ses

This was usually sung when giving was lower than needs demanded. We got the message, “It’s time to give more. Your church is the storehouse that needs to be made ‘full’ again!”

Later on when traveling “evangelists” began to circulate, they solicited funds saying, “Now is the time to put the Lord to the test and He will give it back to you in blessings!” The evangelists de-emphasized the storehouse aspect and concentrated on the multiplied blessings. Some even changed the “blessings” to “God will give back to you double/triple what you give.”

Malachi is much more than a text to solicit funds from church members. (Jesus commanded pastors to feed His sheep, not fleece His sheep.)

As we shift our focus from evil times, in which God’s people are esteemed of little import, to the end time, we see God will amply compensate His people for their troubles when Jesus comes again.

The chorus of an another old hymn comes to mind—

It will be worth it all
when we see Jesus!
Life’s trials will seem so small
when we see Christ.
One glimpse of his dear face,
all sorrow will erase.
So, bravely run the race
till we see Christ.
(see Rusthoi, below)

17 “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.

I. God will openly acknowledge us, manifesting the fact that we are His Children before the watching world. vs. 3:17. 

We were His precious children all along, but in the end, this will be manifest for all to see. Compare what our eyes focus on now and our future status—II Corinthians 4:16

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.


Henry Venn and Perspectives on Life

One day a stranger called to see Henry Venn, Honorable Secretary of the Church Henry_VennMissionary Society, and as it happened, on the African mail-day when every moment was precious. The Secretary was busy with his dispatches when the visitor was announced. He came to complain of the ministrations provided for passing tourists in a favorite health-resort. (A German missionary was currently ministering there. He called the congregation to prayer by saying, “Let us bray.”)

Henry Venn grasped the arms of his chair, drew it close to the table, shifted his letters to and fro, and, looking his interviewer straight in the face, said, “I know, Sir, but of two [types of persons] in this world, Timists and Eternists. I am an Eternist.” The gentleman picked up his hat and left… . (see Charmichael, below.)


Henry Venn understands that Paul identifies in II Corinthians 4 two types of people in this world: (1) those whose eyes are only on things in time and space—timists; and (2) those whose eyes are on eternity—eternists. These verses give us the perspective from which to evaluate all things in this world.

We are not negligent of our physical duties on earth. We work, etc., to feed our families. But, we do not work to amass a fortune to insulate them from pain. Physical eyes are on this world, but the eye of faith is always on eternity.

I John 3: 1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure. (KJV; emphasis mine; words modified for meaning.)

Beatific Vision

Gustave Dore’s illustration of the sight of Christ in Dante’s Paradise, 1868.

Theologians refer to the believer’s first sight of the glorified Christ as “the Beatific Vision.” The word “beatific” in English seems to mean “beautiful.” The sight of Christ is beautiful. However, “beatific” means the person who sees God is made “perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.” (Westminster Shorter Catechism #38)

Rev Albert Barnes (1798-1870) - Find A Grave MemorialTreasured possession is segullah in Hebrew. “The ‘treasured possession,’ is something, much prized, made great store of, and guarded.” (see Barnes, below; pictured right.) The reference is to Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession [segullah], out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers… .

18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

II. In the end God will make known the character of each person for all to see. vs. 18.

God spares His own people when Christ comes to separate the sheep from the goats and inflict His righteous wrath on the ungodly. The word “spare” is chamal in Hebrew and means “to have compassion on.” (see BDB, below.) Note it is used twice in the same verse in Malachi 3:17.

Earlier we saw in Malachi 3:14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts?” (ESV; emphasis mine.) The ungodly living among godly Israelites were looking for a pay-off in this life. That which may or may not have monetary reward in this life, will “pay off” in eternity.

sistine-altar-2-4

The Last Judgment by Michelangelo located in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City.

We might think, “What does such a distinction mean to us?” Those who are God’s people in this life, are aware of God’s “looking over their shoulders,” as it were. The Reformers were fond of saying, “We live Coram Deo—”Before the Face of God.”

“To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God.”

Integrity is found where men and women live their lives in a pattern of consistency. It is a pattern that functions the same basic way in church and out of church. It is a life that is open before God. It is a life in which all that is done is done as to the Lord. It is a life lived by principle, not expediency; by humility before God, not defiance. It is a life lived under the tutelage of conscience that is held captive by the Word of God.” (see Sproul, below.)  God misses nothing, whether evil or righteous.

Outward appearances deceive now, but all will be revealed at the second coming of Christ. It will be worth whatever sacrifices we made in time and space to proclaim the Him to the world.

Notes on Sources

Barnes, A. (1884) Notes on the Old Testament: Malachi. London, UK :Blackie & Son. Accessed 26 November 2021 from https://biblehub.com/commentaries/malachi/3-17.htm

BDB Hebrew Lexicon. (1906). “2550. Chamal”. Accessed 26 November 2021 from https://biblehub.com/hebrew/2550.htm

Carmichael, A. (1922). Amy Carmichael: Her Early Works. Kindle book. Amy Carmichael took this incident from Knight’s Memoir of Venn.

Leech, L. S. (1923). “Bring Ye all the Tithes into the Storehouse;” Hymn. Accessed 24 November 2021 at https://hymnary.org/text/bring_ye_all_the_tithes_into_the_leech

Rusthoi, E. L. K. (1941) “When We See Christ”; hymn. Accessed 27 November 2021 at https://wordwisehymns.com/2013/02/01/when-we-see-christ/

Sproul, R. C. (2017). What Does “Coram Deo” Mean? Accessed 26 November 2021 from https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/what-does-coram-deo-mean

Malachi 3:16 Encouraging One Another in Times when Evil Abounds

Image above is from Steve Law, 7 September 2018, Patterns of Evidence blog. It shows the Israelites worship of the gold calf while Moses was on the Mount receiving the Ten Commandments.

An anonymous author says, “Reverence is the very first element of religion; it cannot but be felt by everyone who has right views of the divine greatness and holiness, and of his own character in the sight of God.” (See Reverence, below.) Whenever a society as a whole deviates from the Word of God as the only rule of faith and practice, idolatrous living, ensues. Idols are not necessarily carvings or pictures. Idols can be mental as well as metal. See Isaiah 44:9-20. See Calvin quotation below.

Calvin on Human heart as idol factory


Definition of a “Public Square”

Meeting of village“A public square” is any place that a story can be shared: a newspaper, magazine, book, website, blog, song, broadcast station or channel, street corner, theater, conference, government body and more. The American origins lie in the colonial village square and the first [printing] presses, which published the pamphlets and newspapers that advocated the birth of a new nation. (See Haack, below.)

(Picture above left “The Colonists Under Liberty Tree,” from Cassell’s Illustrated History of England, Volume 5, page 109 (1865); Public Domain from Wikipedia.)

Quotefancy-3440951-3840x2160 (2)

[In modern public discourse,] the problems and dilemmas of society, e.g., issues like the economy, education, technology, judicial reform or immigration should be discussed and solved without any reference to the Divine. The Divine can be mentioned if the discussion is about one’s personal, private life, but not as an essential part of finding a solution to pressing national or regional questions. (See Haack, below; emphasis mine.) People who say they believe in God, yet live like the ungodly, are practical-atheists.

What can believers do if the larger society in which they live becomes Anti-God? Today people who mention God or the Bible aren’t permitted a place at the table of discussion. The anti-God want a piece of the financial pie.

Malachi 3:16 gives us a remedy, lest we become isolated and feel like we alone.

16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.

Malachi 3:16 gives God’s people a strategy for living in an age that does neither acknowledge God nor live by His Word as the only rule of faith and practice.

I. We can gather in smaller groups to encourage one another to remain firm in our own faith. vs. 16a

vs. 16a Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. 

Moses at the Burning Bush

Moses at the Burning Bush illustrates the Fear of the Lord (from Pinterest). He removed his shoes from his feet as a sign of reverence.

We ought to pay attention to what the ungodly say in verses 13-15. By the way the word for “spoke to one another” is the same in 3:13—”But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’” By saying—

1. Serving God doesn’t pay for us in this life.
2. We mourn over sin, but the sinners are the happy ones.
3. Evil people sin with impunity, yet they escape punishment.

What did the God-fearing speak about? We cannot know for certain, but I think they countered what the ungodly said about God. Life in this world with God is difficult. Life in this world without God is impossible.


The Fear of the Lord

Servile or abject fear is not to be understood [fear of punishment], but filial fear [fear of marring the relationship], by which we fear to offend God. The expression describes that reverential attitude or holy fear which man, when his heart is set aright, observes towards God. (See Proverbs 1:7, below.)


Speaking to each other words that encourage includes positive words about who God really is and what will happen at the final judgment. We should remind each other that reward in this life in not final. God will reward His faithful servants in eternity!


God settles all His accounts, but not necessarily in this life

One time an atheistic farmer in New England tried to rob God of His glory. He wrote this letter to the newspaper in the Fall: “I bought my seed on the Sabbath, I sowed it on the Sabbath, I watered it on the Sabbath, I fertilized it on the Sabbath, and I harvested it on the Sabbath. Now it’s October and I have the largest crop in the valley.”

The editor printed his letter and simply added one sentence: “God does not settle all of His accounts in October.”

It might seem as if the ungodly and the wicked prosper and grow, and that all goes well for them—even if they thumb their noses at God and directly defy His commandments.

We can trust God to make all wrongs right. We can wait upon Him to bring justice to His children. All accounts will be settled, whether it is in this life or the next. Indeed, He does not settle accounts in October.

 [See Kennedy, D.J., below.]


16 The Lord paid attention and heard them… .

II. We can encourage each other’s faithfulness by reminding each other God hears everything we say, especially prayers. 16b. 


Alan Redpath quotation 2 croppedI once heard the late Alan Redpath speak in the late ’60s at the Ben Lippen Conference in Asheville, NC. We could eat supper in Greenville, SC and make it to the evening meeting at Ben Lippen in time (especially if the driver had a heavy foot on the accelerator). Redpath related the story of his problems in Chicago 1953-1962 as pastor of Moody Memorial Church in the sermon at Ben Lippen that night. (I used two written accounts to refresh my memory.)

At one of Alan Redpath’s lowest moments, Tozer phoned him and invited Redpath, who had been so successful in Great Britain and would be successful again after he left Chicago, to meet him on a beach along Lake Michigan for prayer. Tozer regularly prayed (April to October) on the lake front, between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. Redpath said he didn’t go often, but when he did go, there was the Lord’s servant on his face waiting before the Lord, and it was holy ground. (See Biser, below.)

It was early in the morning, at daybreak, when Redpath arrived [one day]. Tozer was face down in the sand crying out to God in prayer and worshiping him. He was oblivious to all else. Redpath said the way that he prayed for him that morning helped turn his life around and put him back on a right course. He would face the failure of his Chicago ministry with renewed power and the aid of the Holy Spirit.

A-W-Tozer-Quote-It-is-doubtful-whether-God-can-bless-a-man-greatly

Moody Church had had a couple of short pastorates since Harry Ironside, pastor from 1929-1948, had left. It was obvious to Redpath that the leaders compared every new pastor to Ironside. A.W. Tozer himself was disliked by a wide array of evangelicals in the Chicago area, and beyond, and thus he often missed the ‘big opportunities’ that he might have enjoyed had he not been so outspoken.” Tozer was a good prayer partner for Redpath because of his experiences with criticism and discord.  (see Armstrong & Biser, below.)


We can and should minister to our fellow believers in the area in which we share the same hurt. II Corinthians 1—

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. [ESV; emphasis mine.]

Has God permitted us to be hurt deeply? We will recognize hurt believers when we see and hear them. We should use the opportunity to minister out of our painful experiences.

16c and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.

III. We can encourage each other by realizing God remembers everything we do for Him. vs.16c 

While the ungodly complain and distort the image of God, the godly can meet to counteract the errors of the ungodly. We can also connect God to our problems by praying together.


Cottage Prayer Meetings

When I was a boy, people in my home church told me about cottage prayer meetings that always preceded the special meetings referred to as “revivals.” They realized a church cannot schedule revival, but it can prepare for it.

Prayer before special meetings was the norm before and after WWII, dying our only in the 1970s. These used to be called “cottage prayer meetings” and they were common in some parts of America in the first part of the 20th century. They were still common in the 1960s and 1970s. But they have gone by the wayside in most churches. Special meetings are not preceded by special prayer, and the result is a lack of spiritual power. We tend to depend more on advertising, enthusiasm, decorations, special music, and the dynamism of the speaker.

Pelham Baptist Church in South Carolina, was pastored by Harold B. Sightler from 1942 until 1952. Consider the following testimony about the power of prayer for revival and evangelism—

“In 1946 only three people were baptized at Pelham, and so in early 1947 a week of prayer meetings were held at night at the church, prayer only, for revival and salvation of souls, with no preaching or singing. People began to get saved, and the church grew. The prayer meetings continued, and by 1949 were being held on Sunday nights after church in a pasture. These often drew a hundred people and sometimes lasted until one o’clock in the morning. A rock altar was built around a tree. Each represented a person being prayed for by name” (James Sightler, “Observations on Dr. Harold B. Sightler’s Early Ministry and the Heritage of Tabernacle Baptist Church,” http://tabernacleministries.org/Church/ history.php4).

We can and should meet with like-minded believers who will pray and encourage us and other fellow-believers.

Majesty, Worship His Majesty: Written by Jack Williams Hayford

Power flows from the throne of God in answer to believing prayer!

Sources I Used

Armstrong, J. H. (2008). “Why A. W. Tozer Has Been a Great Blessing to Me” blog post daccessed 29 September 2021 from https://johnharmstrong.typepad.com/john_h_armstrong_/2008/06/why-a-w-tozer-h.html

Biser, D. (2014). Accessed 29 September 2021 from https://www.baptistpress.com/resource-library/news/call-to-prayer-a-great-place-to-start-psalm-27/

Haack, D. (2017). “Idols in Our Modern World.” blog-post accessed 2 October 2021 from https://ransomfellowship.org/article/idols-in-our-modern-world/

Kennedy, D. J. (2021). God Will Settle All Accounts. devotional. Accessed 11 November 2021 from https://www.djameskennedy.com/full-view-devotions/20211003-god-will-settle-all-accounts

Proverbs 1:7. (1909). From The Pulpit Commentary; accessed 2 October 2021 from https://www.biblehub.com/proverbs/1-7.htm

Reverence. (2007.) Sermon Central blog accessed 29 September 2021 from https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon-illustrations/48554/christian-values-by-sermon-central

Malachi 3:15—God’s People do not Conform to Ungodly Behavior

Malachi 3:13-15

Image above in public domain; Tower of Babel by Dutch painter (17th century) from Wikipedia commons. It is the epitome of man’s futile effort to displace God by building upward to His dwelling and displacing Him.

As I have pointed out in the previous posts, the theme of verses 13-15 is—
Believers need to remain faithful to God and the teachings of His Word in order to avoid contributing toward building a godless civilization. 

This week we finish the conversation of the ungodly—the conversation of those who have rejected the Lord and His Word so they can better get along in society (Malachi 3:13-15).

The prophet Malachi is the one giving us the dialogue. He is functioning as a covenant prosecutor. (For more on this aspect of a prophet’s ministry see R. C. Sproul’s Covenant Prosecutors.)

We are faced with a decision as to which group we will join today. Will we be faithful to our Lord? Or, will we reject Him and His Word? In our world the majority have opted for rejecting the Lord and His Word. So, believers are always swimming upstream against the ungodly current of life.


Priorities

Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, used to say that the three most important things in his life were God, his family, and McDonald’s and that when he got to the office, the order was reversed.

As Christians we must never reverse that order. We are an ambassador of Christ wherever we go. Our behavior and words must represent the one who we serve. (See Sheane, below.)


III. We cannot numb our consciences so we can become “covert” Christians within our society. vs. 15

vs.15 ‘And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’” 

Note the people who are acting opposite to God’s Word and ways have their priorities wrong. It is not healthy spiritually to numb our consciences so we can go in a direction that the rest of society is following.

Lemmings Logic


Our Consciences

The Bible speaks of an inner voice or awareness that can guide us toward what is good and righteous. There is no one word for it in the Hebrew Old Testament, but in the New Testament a word does emerge—syneidesis. …Conscience is an inner awareness about the rightness or wrongness of our thoughts, words, and deeds. The Greek word literally means the self that knows itself.

how to live the bible logo

So the best case scenario is when God the Holy Spirit enlivens and shapes conscience [through the Word of God], making it a reliable voice as we make one decision after another throughout the day. The conscience is where the commands of God and love and faith converge… . (see Lawrenz, below)


One point in Malachi 3:13-15 is the play on God’s own words in Malachi 3:12. God said—Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts. Compare this with 3:15 “…we call the arrogant blessed.” (see Perowne, below.) I can only conclude that the Israelites who proclaimed the arrogant blessed had dulled their consciences and thus were led to act against God Himself.

When we act against the Word of God, our consciences become unreliable referees in deciding between what is good and what is evil.


Matthew HenryMatthew Henry Simplifies Things for us

The remembrance of the works of God, will be a powerful remedy against distrust of his promise and goodness; for he is God, and changes not. God’s way is in the sanctuary. We are sure that God is holy in all his works. God’s ways are like the deep waters, which cannot be fathomed; like the way of a ship, which cannot be tracked.


We need today a heightened vision to see things as they are. Prosperity is not a sign of success from the eternal prospective. Psalm 73 gives us God’s perspective on “success.”

1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.
3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

The great sin of democracy is envy. “If you have a dime, it is because you stole a nickle from me,” as one pundit has put it.


king midasSudden Wealth

The puritans had a proverb about a person who suddenly comes into wealth. “God is perhaps blessing that person; or He may be testing him; or He might given him what he wanted and is and by it cursing him” (e.g. “the Midas touch” pictured right he hugged his daughter and she turns to gold). Riches without God’s direction is a curse because riches affect one’s children.


How do we get God’s perspective? consider Psalm 73—

16 But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.
18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.
19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!

the-maidens-prayerGod’s ways are discerned in the sanctuary (the Holy place—either (1) in one’s Church, or (2) in a meeting with fellow believers, or (3) in one’s own private prayer closet). We need to take specific problems we struggle with and lay them before the Lord. (Picture left is from picryl.com)

Psalm 77—

11 I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.
12 I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.
13 [Your] way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?

Compare another way for trying to discerning God’s ways—

motorboat-425053_960_72019 [Your] way is in the sea, and [your] path in the great waters, and [your] footsteps are not known.
20 [You] led [your] people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

You can see the wake of a boat, but as it disappears so also does its wake after a very short while. (Public domain image right from pixabay.com)

I always rely on Romans 11, when I do not understand a matter—

33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his [counselor]? [KJV]
35 “Or who has first given to Him, and it shall be repaid to him?” [NKJV]
36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. [KJV]

Next week we will move to the conversation among the godly.

Sources

Lawrenz, M. (2018). “How to Live The Bible — Voice of Conscience,” sermon series. Accessed 24 October 2021 from https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2018/01/how-to-live-the-bible-voice-of-conscience/

Perowne, T. T. (1890). Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi with Notes and Introduction in the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Accessed 24 October 2021 from https://biblehub.com/commentaries/malachi/3-15.htm

Sheane, S. (2010). “Employers and Employees.” Sermon. Accessed 25 October 2021 from https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon-illustrations/76399/are-your-life-s-priorities-by-sermon-central

Malachi 3:14 God’s Word in the Modern Public Sphere

Malachi 3:13-15

Image above is of the First Nicene Council; from a Fresco in Sistine Chapel, Vatican; public domain.

I remind you from the last post that in Malachi we are “listening-in on” two conversations from the past—

  1. The conversation of those who have rejected the Lord and His Word 3:13-15;
  2. The conversation of those who have remained faithful to the Lord and His Word 3:16-4:3.

We have these two conversations still ongoing today in our church and nation. Some individuals and even Churches compromise their beliefs to “fit-in better with the culture.”

As we saw last post, the theme of Malachi 3:13-15 is—

Believers need to remain faithful to God and the teachings of His Word in order to avoid building a godless civilization.

vs. 14 You have said, “It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts?”

II. We cannot reduce the application of God’s Word to fit a compatible theology of our modern public sphere. vs. 14

Richard John Neuhaus wrote a book that has greatly influenced evangelicals from the 1980s to the present—The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America. “The public sphere…is an area in social life where individuals can come together to freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action.” (see Public Sphere, below.) Today the public sphere includes social media. Neuhaus rightly saw the exclusion of God from the public square (national discourse) would lead to the collapse of democracy.

It is easy to be a follower of Christ in our homes or in Churches. In the public sphere, we may lose our livelihood for giving a testimony to the exclusiveness of Christ as God in human flesh. So some won’t do this outwardly, lest FB put them in “time-out” for violating public policy.


Papal Caution about Denying Communion to Abortion Politicians

Pope Francis has cautioned bishops about wading into politics as U.S. bishops question whether or not to deny communion to pro-choice politicians such as President Biden.

“I have never refused the Eucharist to anyone,” the pope said… .”

The point he stressed was that bishops should be pastors, not politicians, according to The New York Times. He referred to communion as “a gift” and not “a prize for the perfect.” “What must the pastor do? Be a pastor; don’t go condemning. Be a pastor, because he is a pastor also for the excommunicated.

Pope Meets with Pelosi

The pope stressed, however, that the Catholic Church views abortion as homicide. (See Aitken, below.)

Is not giving communion to pro-abortion politicians a political stance in line with the agenda of pro-abortionist politicians? Doesn’t the church try to maintain its place in society by aligning itself with popular politicians regardless of their anti-God bias?

The Church must conform to God and His Word in the public sphere to properly posture itself for maximum impact on the world! Thank God we have patterns of believer’s resistance to anti-Biblical ideas of government from the past. This is one reason I like biography of Christian greats from the past. They are mentors to follow.


Needed Words from Robert Cardinal Sarah

Robert Cardinal Sarah schooled the Pope and other church leaders by writing in God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith

The idea of putting Magisterial teaching in a beautiful display case while separating it from pastoral practice, which then could evolve along with circumstances, fashions, and passions, is a sort of heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology. I therefore solemnly state that the Church in Africa…is committed in the name of the Lord Jesus to keeping unchanged the teaching of God and of the Church. (See Cardinal Sarah, below; emphasis mine.)


As believers we cannot conclude that since it doesn’t pay to be too public with our theology, we must remain silent in the public sphere about religion.


“Against the word; for the World”

“In the fourth century, the number one heresy was the Arius_erstketterteaching of a presbyter in Alexandria named Arius, concerning the person of Christ. (pictured left). Arius held that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who was begotten by God the Father with the difference that the Son of God did not always exist but was begotten within time by God the Father, therefore Jesus was not co-eternal with God the Father. Arianism holds that the Son is distinct from the Father and therefore subordinate to Him.” (See Arianism, below.) Arians would say, “There was a time when He [the Son of God] was not.”

“Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, refuted the teaching of Arius and his followers and this eventually led the emperor Constantine to call the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea during the winter of 324–325. The Arian controversy produced not only the Nicene Creed of AD 325 (which is still recited in many churches today) but it also brought to the fore a truly heroic figure of the faith, namely, Athanasius of Alexandria.” (See Jones, below.)

“Alexander stood for truth and when he opposed Arius. He had a young deacon whom he had ordained in 319. In 325, Athanasius served as Alexander’s secretary at the First Council of Nicaea. Already a recognized theologian and ascetic, he was the obvious choice to replace his ageing mentor Alexander as the Patriarch of Alexandria. Athanasius had a mentor in Alexander.” (See Jones, below.) He later stood in opposition to Arius because of what he saw in his mentor. Who is looking at us as we stand for God and His word over the current fancy of the world? We may be a mentor to others who are younger and will take the same stand in the future.

Here are the words of the Nicene Creed that refutes Arianism—

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being† with the Father. [†con-substantial]
(See Nicene Creed, below)

Image left is “Saint Athanasius was persecuted.” Athanasius-Bitschnaufrom Wikimedia Commons; public domain.

Later after Athanasius became the Bishop of Alexandria, “Constantine [Emperor of the Roman Empire]…wrote a letter to Athanasius urging him to receive Arius ‘whose opinions had been misrepresented.’ Athanasius refused to re-admit Arius and his followers on the grounds that ‘there could be no fellowship between the church and the one who denied the divinity of Christ.’ Seeing that the Emperor and many of his fellow officers were pushing for restoration, concession would have been easy if not understandable for Athanasius, but he would not budge.” (See Jones, below.)

“Athanasius was theodosiusi-400x533hounded through five exiles, and he was finally summoned before emperor Theodosius [Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, pictured right], who demanded he cease his opposition to Arius. The emperor reproved him and asked, ‘Do you not realize that all the world is against you?’ Athanasius quickly answered, ‘Then I am against all the world.'” (see Athanasius, below.)

We can be against the world and for the world at the same time. We cannot be for the world and against God at the same time! Only by embracing God’s Word and ways can we influence people for eternity.

I John 2:15-17 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. [ESV; emphasis mine.]


The ones in Malachi 3:14 who had departed from God saw their compromising lifestyle as paying off in a big way. They would profit like the godless who seemed to prosper rather than suffer ill. The Hebrew word in vs. 14 for “vain” is shav which means “futility, emptiness, or vanity.” Further the Hebrew word for “profit” is betsameaning “gain made by violence, unjust gain, or profit.” Since there was no capitalism in the ancient world, people had to resort to cheating and robbery to get rich suddenly.

Those who had abandoned God and His ways in Malachi’s day…”had made some efforts at improvement [in their walk with God], expecting immediate results in added blessings; and as these did not come as quickly as they hoped, they relapsed into their old [compromising ways].” (see Spence, below.)

Today some often subconsciously do a profit margin analysis between the lives of those who serve God and those who do not. The business analysis is always the bottom line—how much does it pay. Serving and walking with God cannot be assessed from the standpoint of how much do I get out of following God in this life (contrary to the health and wealth gospel teachers.)

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” [ESV; emphasis mine.]

Jesus’s analysis is on another scale. Matthew 6 gives it—

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


The Christian Fight Song

On January 23, 2012, Dr. R.C. Sproul spoke at Reformation Bible College’s chapel service on the subject of “The Wrath of God Revealed” from Romans 1:18. At the close of his message, he reminded us of “the Christian fight song,” saying:
“It goes back to the fourth century to the Arian controversy when the Arians were denying the Trinity. And part of the way they communicated their heresy was to make up bawdy songs that were insulting, and they stood on one side of the river and sang these insulting songs to the Trinitarians. And so the Christians came up with their own fight song.”

Here is the Christian fight song that the Trinitarians would sing back to the Arians.

Glory be to the Father;
And to the Son;
And to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end.

The word “it” refers to the eternal nature of God as three persons equal in power and glory.

The attribute of glory that is the supreme attribute of deity, is to be given to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The next time you sing it, will you sing the Gloria as the Christian fight song? (See Sproul, below.)


Next time we will look at verse 15.

Notes on Sources

Aitken, P. (2021). “Pope Francis on communion for ‘controversial’ Catholic politicians” Accessed 11 October 2021 from https://www.foxnews.com/world/pope-francis-communion-catholic-politicians-eucharist

Athanasius. (2021). “Athanasius of Alexandria” accessed 11 October 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athanasius_of_Alexandria

Arianism. (2021). Accessed 11 October 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arianism

Cardinal Sarah, (2015). God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith. San Fransico, CA: Ignatius Press.

Halloran, K. P. (2013). Jim Elliot’s Diary Entry with He is no fool”; blog. Accessed 12 October 2021 from https://www.kevinhalloran.net/jim-elliot-quote-he-is-no-fool/

Jones, K. (2004). “Contra Mundum” [against the world]. Accessed 11 October 2021 from https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/contra-mundum

Maya, J. (2017). “Profit Margin.” Accessed 11 October 2021 from https://brocorights.blogspot.com/2017/12/profit-margin-profit-margin-ratio.html

Nicene Creed. (1997). “English Language Liturgical Commission translation.” Accessed 11 October 2021 from https://www.creeds.net/ancient/nicene.htm

Public Sphere. (2021). Definition from Wikipedia accessed 13 October 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_sphere

Sproul, R. C. (2012). The Christian Fight Song. Blog post. Accessed 14 October 2021 from https://garyware.me/2012/02/08/the-christian-fight-song-via-nathan-bingham-r-c-sproul/

Malachi 3:13 Listening-in on Two Conversations

Malachi 3:13-15

Image above is from the Basilica of Saint Lawrence in Austria—Gothic stained glass window (AD 1330). Latin quotation is from Malachi 3:1—”The Lord shall come to his temple.” Wikipedia public domain.


Listening in on Another Person’s Conversation

When I was in Junior High School, I went to summer camp in upper Greenville County, SC. Since I was in the younger group, we were allowed to phone home once a week. There would be a long line of fellow campers, so the calls had to kept brief. To complicate matters, the telephone line we used was a 15-party line. (I realize party-line telephone lines are foreign to those born after 1960ish.)  Each of the 15 customers had a separate ringtone to identify a call that was for them.

On a party line, when you wanted to make a call, you would pick up the receiver to be certain no one was using the line already. Then, you would enter the number you wished to call (on a dial telephone). Frequently, you would hear someone else pick up and remain listening while you talked to Mom. This was the neighborhood gossip seeking information to pass along to others.


800px-Party_line_telephone_etiquette

As telephone upgrades made party lines more popular in the 1940s, local telephone companies ran frequent ads to instill community spirit and personal courtesy in party-line subscribers. Image from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_line_(telephony)


This telephone party-line story is not far off from the experience we have when reading the Bible. We read a text intended for an ancient original audience. Yet, it was written down for us, as well.

Paul writes of the experiences of the Old Testament saints in I Corinthians 10—

6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.

11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. (ESV; Emphasis mine.)

We should immerse ourselves in the Scriptures regularly to avoid the sins of those written about in the Old and New Testaments.

In Malachi we are listening-in on two conversations from the past—

  1. The conversation of those who have rejected the Lord and His Word 3:13-15; 
  2. The conversation of those who have remained faithful to the Lord and His Word 3:16-4:3.

God is the one giving us the dialogue. We are faced with a decision as to which group we will join today. Will we be faithful to our Lord? Or, will we reject Him and His Word? In our world the majority have opted for rejecting the Lord and His Word.


Oskar_Halecki

European Culture without Christianity

Oskar Halecki (pictured right) said, “The attempt to create a culture which would be European without being Christian…is now recognized as the main cause of the present crisis in European civilization.” That churchmen in great numbers are a part of this revolution, this de-Christianization of the West, is an amazing as well as an ugly fact. (see Selbrede below, p. 296.) 


The theme of verses 13-15 is—

Believers need to remain faithful to God and the teachings of His Word in order to avoid participating in the building a godless civilization.

I. We must separate ourselves from those who are hard-hearted towards God. vs. 13

vs. 13 “Your words have been hard against me,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have we spoken against you?” 

The word for “hard” in Hebrew is hazaq, meaning to grow stout, rigid, hard—with the idea of perversity. (see hazaq, below.) Compare Exodus 7:13 Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

Those who depart from God and the teachings of His Word harden their hearts against the Lord and His Word. Soon perverse, hard words come out of their mouths.

Such hard-hearted folks do not recognize their sin against God. “What have we spoken [among ourselves] against you?” The word “spoken” (in Hebrew dabar) carries the meaning of the “reciprocal sense, speak with one another.” We are listening-in on a conversation among persons who are hard-hearted toward God (see dabar, below).

We in the West have permitted our institutions of Higher Education to teach anti-God philosophies. We can restrict the classrooms of our K-12 grades from teaching it, but those who teach have been taught by godless professors.


Sowing and Reaping

On one occasion in the old First Baptist Church sanctuary in Atlanta, I heard Charles Stanley make this observation about sowing and reaping—”We reap what we sow; we reap more than we sow; and we reap later than we sow.”


I agree with Dr. Stanley! Our current religious situation began with hiring the first anti-Christian professor. He taught many students over the years who became teachers themselves; Etc. If Christian members of the various alumni associations had said, “We won’t give a dime to the university’s sports program, nor will we attend any more ball games until you get rid of anti-Christian professors,” We would have seen a different atmosphere in our institutions of higher learning today.

Quotefancy-3440951-3840x2160

Marvin Olasky asked then Gov. George W. Bush to rein-in the higher educational institutions in Texas. Sadly, Gov. George W. Bush said he didn’t have the power to take on that strong cabal.

We do not have the power to take on strong cabals in our world merely with our human abilities. But this is not the end. See Zechariah 4:6 [The angel] said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.

Next time we’ll look further at Malachi 3.

Notes on Sources

Dabar. (1939; 1994). Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon to the Old Testament. Accessed 9 October 2021 from https://biblehub.com/hebrew/1696.htm

Hazaq. (1939; 1994). Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon to the Old Testament. Accessed 9 October 2021 from https://biblehub.com/hebrew/2388.htm

Selbrede, M. G. (2017). “Power Grabs in Church and State.” Accessed 9 October 2021 from https://chalcedon.edu/magazine/power-grabs-in-church-and-state

Images from Wikipedia or public domain.

Revelation 22: Epilogue part 4

Revelation 22:18-21

The theme of this passage is—

God has placed upon us personal responsibility for our treatment of His Word.


Dutch Preacher and a Little Dramatic License

One morning in the 1620s, in a little village church, a preacher named John Rogers was preaching on the subject of the Bible in the Christian’s life. He allowed himself some pulpit dramatics. First, he acted the part of God telling the congregation:

“Well, I have trusted you so long with my Bible; you have slighted it; it lies in such and such houses all covered with dust and cobwebs; you care not to listen to it. Do you use my Bible so? Then you shall have my Bible no longer.” And he took the pulpit Bible away.

Then he knelt down and impersonated the people crying to God: “Lord, whatever thou dost to us, take not thy Bible from us; kill our children, burn our houses; destroy our goods but spare us thy Bible.”

Then he acted God again: “Say you so? Well, I will try you a while longer; and here is my Bible for you” (replacing it); “I will see how you will use it, whether you will love it more, observe it more, practice it more, live more according to it.”

At this the whole congregation dissolved in tears. What had happened? Rogers, under God, had touched a nerve, reminding them of their need to pay close attention to the Bible because reverence for God meant reverence for Scripture and serving God meant obeying Scripture. (see Packer, below.)


John ends the book of Revelation with a warning and some encouragement.

I. John issues a warning about the consequences of adding to the Word of God. vs. 18

vs. 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book… .

The form of this warning is taken from Deuteronomy 4:2—”You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.” (ESV)

Additions to the Bible are usually made by cults and false religious groups.


Cults add to God’s Bible as a Source of Authority

The first doctrinal pattern found in most cults is Addition. One should always ask the question of religious affiliation—

“Does this religious group add to God’s word with new Scripture or new interpretations of the Scriptures?”

“While almost every pseudo-Christian group will use the Bible in some fashion, they will usually say that the Bible…is not sufficient and must be supplemented by the cult’s own words.” They do this in one of three ways: 

David_koresh1. Some add to Scripture new, inspired “revelations” from God (e.g., the apocalyptic revelations of David Koresh of the Branch Davidians).

David Koresh taught that there had been various gospels throughout time (Seven Seals Manuscript, p. 6, Koresh). Based on 1 Peter 1:3-5, Koresh taught, that in the last days another new plan of salvation would be revealed (Seven Seals Manuscript, p. 6). The first seal (Revelation 6:1-2) according to Koresh, is “The Marriage of the Lamb.” (Based on Walker, below) 

See A summary of Koresh’s Seven Seals Manuscript. (Picture above of David Koresh from Wikipedia).

2. Others add to Scripture by declaring that the Bible cannot be understood apart from the indispensable teachings of their group. See this for an example of Scripture Twisting Methods of The Cults.

The biblical text is re-translated, not in accordance with sound Greek scholarship, to fit a preconceived teaching of a cult. Example: The New World Bible translates John 1:1 as “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the word was a god.” (see Scripture Twisting, below. Any first year Greek student could refute that by referring to a grammar of the Greek New Testament.

3. Others actually insert additional books into the canon (e.g., Apocrypha or pseudepigrapha). See this link to the book of II Maccabees 12:38-45 as validity of prayers for the dead. See also Ecclesiastes 9:5 as validity of prayers for the dead. See Hindu Krishna prayers for the dead also. (Material above was constructed from Walker, see below.)

Preface to the Geneva Bible for the Apocrypha—

The preface to the Apocrypha in the Geneva Bible explained that while these books “were not received by a common consent to be read and expounded publicly in the Church,” and did not serve “to prove any point of Christian religion save in so much as they had the consent of the other scriptures called canonical to confirm the same,” nonetheless, “as books proceeding from godly men they were received to be read for the advancement and furtherance of the knowledge of history and for the instruction of godly manners.” (see Biblical Apocrypha, below.)


II. John issues a warning about the consequences of subtracting from the Word of God. vs. 19

…19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Enlightenment-oriented Rationalists Take Away from the Scriptures

Thomas JeffersonSubtractions from the Bible are usually made by liberal, enlightenment-oriented persons or churches. “Christians may differ on secondary issues such as the spiritual gifts, eschatology (end-times), mode of baptism, and church government but they always agree on the fundamentals of the faith. One of those fundamentals is the identity of Jesus Christ as God the Son. One can be wrong on secondary doctrines and still be a Christian. Anyone who puts their faith in a counterfeit Christ, however, is a victim of a deadly case of mistaken identity.”

The question must be asked of religious affiliations and literature—

“Does this religious group subtract from the Bible’s clear teaching about Jesus?” 


Thomas Jefferson’s Mutilated Bible

…Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and he also created his own version of the Bible. Taking a penknife, he pored over the biblical text in Greek, Latin, French, and English and cut and pasted passages to create what we call The Jefferson Bible, 1820.

ATM-Jefferson-Bible-631

Thomas Jefferson cut verses from six copies of the New Testament to create his own personal version. Hugh Talman / NMAH, SI; from https://www.smithsonianmag.com

“To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other.” (Thomas Jefferson, A letter to Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803, Library of Congress).

“I made, for my own satisfaction, an Extract from the Evangelists of the texts of his morals, selecting those only whose style and spirit proved them genuine, and his own: and they are as distinguishable from the matter in which they are embedded as diamonds in dunghills.” (Thomas Jefferson, A letter to Francis Adrian Van Der Kemp, April 25, 1816, The National Archives).

Jefferson Bible

The last verse of the Jefferson Bible, “There [in the nearby garden] they [Jesus’s disciples] rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.”

There was no resurrection in Jefferson’s edition. (See Kidd, below.)


What are we to think of a Jesus who does no miracles and was not raised from the dead?


C. S. Lewis on Christ as: Liar, Lunatic, or Lord of Glory

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a c.s.lewisgreat moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Mere Christianity). (see Roat, A., below.)


These verses are taken as referring to the whole Bible. The Greek text reads ep’ auta—”on top of these things.” John is primarily warning against the altering of his book simply because the judgments and plagues are against the grain of society. Since Revelation comes at the end of the canon and Deuteronomy 4 at the beginning, it is taken secondarily to refer to the whole canon of Holy Scripture. Like literary “bookends” to God’s Word.

This verse does not teach that a person can lose his salvation. The way a person treats God’s Word demonstrates whether or not he is a true Christian.

III. Jesus Himself confirms the veracity of Holy Scripture. vs. 20

vs. 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

This is the third announcement of the imminent return of Christ. Christ adds “yes” to express the certainty of the event. John adds his affirmation—Come [Lord Jesus!]”

IV. Christ’s Church may experience suffering for supporting God’s Word, but Christ supplies the grace to endure it. vs. 21

vs. 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

God’s people will need his grace to live in such times as are described in the book. Revelation is a favorite book of the Bible in countries where persecution regularly occurs. They are not removed from suffering, and do not look for a return of Christ to remove them before persecution occurs.

This brings our studies in the Revelation to a close. I will pause a few weeks before going on to the next study.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Biblical Apocrypha. (1560). Geneva Version of the Bible. Accessed 23 September 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_apocrypha

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Kidd, T. (2021). “The ‘Jefferson Bible’ and a Founder’s Deism.” Accessed 22 September 2021 from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/evangelical-history/jefferson-bible-founders-deism/

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Packer, J. I. (1986). Your Father Loves You. Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers.

Poythress, V. (2000). The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing. 

Roat, A. (2019). “What Is the Jefferson Bible?” Accessed 20 September 2021 from https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/what-is-the-jefferson-bible.html

Scripture Twisting. (2020). Scripture Twisting: Methods Of The Cults. Accessed 21 September 2021 from https://believersweb.org/scripture-twisting-methods-of-the-cults/

Trimm, J. (n.d.) David Koresh’s Seven Seals Teaching. Accessed 21 September 2021 from https://www.watchman.org/articles/cults-alternative-religions/david-koreshs-seven-seals-teaching/

Walker, J. (2013). “Patterns In The Cults” accessed 20 September 2021 from https://www.watchman.org/profiles/pdf/patternsprofile.pdf

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 22: Epilogue, Part Three

Revelation 22:14-17

The theme of this paragraph is—

entrance into the Kingdom of God is by the grace freely offered in Christ.

The invitation is in 22:17. It is broad now. If anyone “wishes to enter let him come.”

Christ-on-the-cross

I. The blood of Christ makes us fit to enter the Kingdom. vs. 14

vs. 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

The verb “wash” is in the present tense—”keep on washing.” The word “right” is “authority.” John 1:12-13 says—

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right (the authority) to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Anyone can claim that they hope to enter the city, but only those who receive the God-given authority will actually enter. This comes by faith in Christ and His finished work.

II. Those excluded from the Kingdom refuse to be cleansed from sin by Christ. vs. 15

vs. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.


Refusal can be a Response to Christ’s Invitation

I had a teacher who spent much of his time as a younger man traveling with an evangelist who did the preaching while my teacher did the one-on-one work in the prayer room with people who responded to the message and wanted to pray to receive Christ. One young lady went to the prayer room and indicted she wanted to receive Christ. My teacher tried to lead her in the sinner’s prayer.

He asked her to repeat the words after him.

“Dear Lord Jesus,
I know that I am a sinner,
and I ask for Your forgiveness.
I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead.
I turn to You from my sin… .”

She had repeated all the words as he said them, but she stopped short of repeating “I turn to You from my sin.” He asked what the difficulty was. She replied she could not give up her sin. He told her she had to turn from her sin to Christ in order to be saved.

She said, “I’ll take my sin, thank you.” 

She rode back with friends to her hometown still in her sins instead of giving them up to receive Christ as Lord and Savior. 


The description of salvation has not changed from Paul’s day to ours. Turning to God from sin is the pattern.

I Thessalonians 1:9-10—

9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. [ESV; emphasis mine.]


Hymn for Salvation

The hymn is old and not according to modern tastes. I like what A. W. Tozer said, “We don’t sing the good hymns anymore, just the other ones.”


John-Milton_Paradise-Lost-0105121

This description is not of those who are excluded from the Kingdom in the present. The Scriptures say—

1 “As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:1-2 NIV)

It is a catalog of those who hold onto their sins and do not receive Christ. Realize also that these persons described are not knocking at the doors to get in after Christ’s coming. They are consigned along with the Devil and his angels in hell at the end.

The word “outside” is exō—outside the city spoken of in chapter 21:1-22:5. Note the people who are excluded from entering into the New Heavens and Earth—

(1) “dogs”—kunes—large ravenous beasts of the streets, scavengers, and not the pets we are so fond of today. This is figurative of people of low moral character.

(2) “those who practice magic arts”—pharmakos—”sorcerers,” “those who manipulate people through the use of drugs and magic spells.

(3) “the sexually immoral”—pornos—this covers those who practice all forms of deviant sexual behavior—the most general word for immoral acts in the Bible.

(4) “murderers”—phoneus—killers.

(5) “idolaters”—eidolatres—ones who worship or serve idols—an idol is anything molten, mental or metal that takes God’s primary place in mankind’s heart and life.

(6) “everyone who loves falsehood”—phileō + pseudos—those who may not lie but who may delight in hearing them e.g. gossips. The tense of phileō—is present.

(7) “everyone who practices falsehood”—poieō + pseudos; again the tense is present—in this case the person is the one who “does” falsehood—a liar.


Luther’s Phrase simul justus et peccator

1533_Cranach_d.Ä._Martin_Luther_im_50._Lebensjahr_anagoriaThese people are not simply ones who may have been guilty of such offenses once or more in their lives. Luther described a Christian as simul justus et peccator. (photo left from https://history.info/on-this-day/1483-martin-luther-born-a-day-before-st-martins/)

“In and of ourselves, under the analysis of God’s scrutiny, we still have sin; we’re still sinners. But, by imputation and by faith in Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is now transferred to our account, then we are considered just or righteous. This is the very heart of the gospel.” (See Sproul, below.)

Revelation 22:15 is a description of people who have the described character as a way of life. They will not repent; therefore, they are excluded from entrance into the New Jerusalem.

III. The one who enters the Kingdom is the one who receives the warnings and invitations given to John in his visions through angel. vs. 16

vs. 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

John rebuked for falling at knees of an angel -Rev

Vision of St. Peter Nolasco, 1629 wikiart.org

John uses the word martureō—”to bear witness to.” It is the present infinitive used to indicate purpose. “You’ is the 2nd person plural pronoun—humin. This definitely indicates that the book was and is intended to have an effect on the church of John’s day and every day from then to Christ’s second coming. Christ identifies himself as the Messiah of Israel. And also, Christ is the one who heralds the approach of the day—the morning star.

IV. The speaker invites all to enter the Kingdom now! vs. 17

vs. 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Kingdom of God

Shared from Logos Bible Software https://www.logos.com

This is an invitation for all who are at present interested to make preparation to enter the city. In light of the imminence of the events described in this book, men and women are urged to accept God’s invitation to salvation. The Spirit who inspired the prophets invites people to come. The Bride, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, hears the Spirit’s invitation and invites others to come. There is a further invitation solicited—from “the one who hears.” In other words, those who hear the invitation from the church are in turn commanded to invite others. Two further groups are invited to the city—(1) the thirsty (dipsaō) ; (2) the one who wishes (thelō). This makes the invitation universal. The offer is free, but it is also a command. All men and women have the responsibility to heed God’s invitation. Acts 17:30-31 corroborates this—

30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Next time the final paragraph of our study in Revelation.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Athanasiou, K. (n.d.). Imperative. Accessed 8 September 2021 from https://www.greekgrammar.eu/pdffiles/imper.pdf

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Carr, A. (1893). Matthew in The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges series. Cambridge: UK, at the University Press. Accessed 30 August 2021 from https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cgt/matthew-6.html

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Johnston, J. K. (1992). Why Christians Sin. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishing.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Pray. (2021). Accessed 8 September 2021 from https://www.etymonline.com/word/pray

Poythress, V. (2000). The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing. 

Sproul, R. C. (2019). “What does simul justus et peccatur mean?” Accessed 19 September 2021 from https://www.ligonier.org/posts/simul-justus-et-peccator

Stott, J.R.W. (1986). The Message of Galatians, part of The Bible Speaks Today series. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 22: Epilogue, Part Two

Revelation 22:10-13

Image above in public domain from https://www.publicdomainpictures.net

“The epilogue shows clearly that the purpose of the book is to induce holy obedience among God’s people in order that they receive the reward of salvation.” (see Beale, p. 508; below).


I would summarize the message of Revelation 22:10-13 as—

God reveals His purposes for the future so John’s churches and ours can walk with God amid the chaos of a world in opposition to God and His people. 

We live in such a chaotic day as did first century believers! We need Revelation’s warnings and promised incentives to help us live as Christians today!

I. We can live, in the midst of chaos, according to that which is revealed to us by John in the Revelation. vs.10

vs. 10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up¶ the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.


Luther on the Bible

“God is everywhere. However, He does not want you to reach out for Him everywhere but only in the Word. Reach out for it and you will grasp Him aright. Otherwise you are tempting God and setting up idolatry. That is why He has established a certain method for us. This teaches us how and where we are to look for Him and find Him, namely, in the Word.” (Bible Hub quotations).


What Daniel was commanded to do—seal the prophecy—John is forbidden to do. Revelation does have a present application in all ages of the church. It is not intended to be only for a future people, or for a people in the past. Daniel is in view in Revelation 22:10—

Daniel 8:26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.”

Daniel 12:4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

John is saying that what was distant to Daniel is being fulfilled now—inaugurated stages of the kingdom and at the very end consummation of the kingdom.


Now but not yet

I have shown the importance of seeing the Kingdom as inaugurated now; and, later the Kingdom to be consummated at the Second Coming. (See the chart above.) We have blessings of the Kingdom now, but not yet the fullness of the Kingdom blessings.


The word “time” is kairos (an opportune time). “Near”—engos—can be interpreted in different ways—(1) “near” in the sense of distance; (2) “near” in the sense of time. Philippians 4:5 demonstrates the ambiguity of the word engos—(5) Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

What is Paul trying to say? Is it that the Lord Jesus is close to us? Or is it that the return is imminent. Even though both senses of engos are true, I think that the latter is implied in Revelation 22:10—the time of fulfillment is always close in time. Remember, “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4; II Peter 3:8).


Two Great Presidents on the Bible & Government

It is impossible to righteously govern the world without God and the Bible. – George Washington

Within the covers of one single book, the Bible, are all the answers to all the problems that face us today—if only we would read and believe. – Ronald Reagan


Only the God who speaks in Holy Scripture can guide us in this murky world at present. We can trust what He has said within the pages of His Book!

II. We can safely conform our lives to God’s Word, but we need to refuse the “world’s mold” which tries to shape our thinking. vs. 11

vs. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

Note the following people are referred to by their character—

(1) “him who does wrong”—[adikon] “an unrighteous person,” or “a person not in a right relationship
with God.”
(2) “him who is vile”—rhuparos “dirty, filthy, unclean, or defiled persons”
(3) “him who does right”—dikaios “righteous persons,” or “persons in a right relationship with God”
(4) “him who is holy”—hagios “a person set apart from sin to serve God,” “a pure person”

John is seemingly commanding men to remain in their present state of character. I thought we were in the salvation business! However, the imperative is not always a categorical command, but sometimes a request or desire (see Athanasiou, below). In other words, we use an imperative—”Sit down”—when someone enters our house and we wish to be polite. It is hardly a categorical command, but is a request from us.

Daniel 12:10 Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. This is in mind when John writes. “Opposite heart orientations and behavior patterns have opposite destinies, as will be clear when the Lamb who is the supreme judge comes.” (see Johnson, D. E.; below.)


John Stott’s Application of an Adage

“You sow a thought and you reap a deed.
You sow a deed and you reap a habit.
You sow a habit and you reap a character.
You sow a character and you reap a destiny.”

(Original source is Ralph Waldo Emerson, according to Good Reads website.)

“Every time we allow our mind to harbor a grudge, nurse a grievance, entertain an impure fancy, wallow in self-pity, we are sowing to the flesh. Every time we linger in bad company whose insidious influence we know we cannot resist, every time we lie in bed when we ought to be up and praying, every time we read pornographic literature, every time we take a risk that strains our self-control, we are sowing, sowing, sowing to the flesh.” (see Stott, p. 170-171; below.)


The end, both of one’s personal life or the Second Coming of Christ, will cement that person’s character. There will come a time when men will no longer be moved to repentance. As they lived, so they will die. The wicked will be enticed to live more wickedly and the righteous will be inspired to live more righteously. God deals with man as he always has. He is not responsible for the wicked person’s rejection and hardening. “The same sun which melts wax hardens clay. And the same Gospel which melts some persons to repentance hardens others in their sins.” (original source: C. H. Spurgeon or Jonathan Edwards.) In other words, the experience of either hardening or melting, is dependent on the composition of the substance, not on the energy of sun.

Salvation may be all of grace, but damnation is purely by works.


Salvation is by Grace

The Heidelberg Catechism says—

Q. 1. What is your only comfort in life and death?

A. That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must work together for my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him


Although I was steeped in the Westminster Catechism, I like the personal nature of The Heidelberg Catechism.

III. We can count on God’s reward at Christ’s coming to compensate for our suffering. vs. 12

vs. 12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.”

“Reward” is misthos which means “payment, wages, what is due—whether reward [remunerative justice] or punishment [retributive justice].” Note that the wicked will be given wages—Romans 6:23—For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God will reward the righteous—I Cor. 3:12-15—

12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

II Cor. 5:10-11—

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.

What we are is known to God, and I hope it is also known to our consciences. In every mention of Judgment in the Bible, it states that is on the basis of works. This is not to say that the judgment is based on a person’s performance. If he does right he will earn salvation, and if he does wrong, he will earn damnation. Indeed, not! This would invalidate grace—Romans 3:21-25a—

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

Works simply indicate the person’s character (see chart above). They prove infallibly that the person either received or rejected the gift of God’s grace.


Script Change

Many years ago in a Moscow theater, matinee idol Alexander Rostovzev was converted while playing the role of Jesus in a sacrilegious play entitled “Christ in a Tuxedo.” He was supposed to read two verses from the Sermon on the Mount, remove his gown, and cry out, “Give me my tuxedo and top hat!” But as he read the words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,” he began to tremble. Instead of following the script, he kept reading from Matthew 5, ignoring the coughs, calls, and foot-stamping of his fellow actors.

Finally, recalling a verse he had learned in his childhood in a Russian Orthodox church, he cried, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom!” (Luke 23:42 KJV). Before the curtain could be lowered, Rostovzev had trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. (see Johnston, J. K., pg. 121; below.)


I find when I have made a wrong turn or hear a questionable teaching, the best way out is “to change scripts”—to God’s Word.

I have sickness this week and could not release this blog post until today. Next week, hopefully we will continue with the epilogue of Revelation, although I cannot promise it will be on Sunday. 

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Athanasiou, K. (n.d.). Imperative. Accessed 8 September 2021 from https://www.greekgrammar.eu/pdffiles/imper.pdf

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Carr, A. (1893). Matthew in The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges series. Cambridge: UK, at the University Press. Accessed 30 August 2021 from https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cgt/matthew-6.html

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Johnston, J. K. (1992). Why Christians Sin. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishing.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Pray. (2021). Accessed 8 September 2021 from https://www.etymonline.com/word/pray

Poythress, V. (2000). The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing. 

Stott, J.R.W. (1986). The Message of Galatians, part of The Bible Speaks Today series. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 22: Epilogue, Part One

Revelation 22:6-9

The Epilogue of Revelation concludes with (1) promise, (2) exhortation, and (3). confirmation in order to….

(1) drive home to our hearts the message of the visions, and
(2) stir up hope for the coming of the Lord Jesus (22: 20). (see Poythress, below; emphasis mine.) 

“The epilogue shows clearly that the purpose of the book is to induce holy obedience among God’s people in order that they receive the reward of salvation.” (see Beale, p. 508; below).

I. We can trust the words of Revelation because they are sent to us by God Himself. [ESV]

vs. 6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

The word “true” is alēthinos—meaning “genuine.” The phrase “the God of the spirits of the prophets” is a reference to the divine inspiration of Scripture that has been placed before us in the Revelation of John. II Peter 1:19-21 gives us the method by which prophecy and its written form—Scripture—was given—”men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (see sailboat to the left). The Spirit of God kept the writers of Holy Scripture on course as they wrote. The Holy Spirit used human instrument’s education (or lack of it), gifts, talents, writing style, and vocabulary. This is affirmed by the angel speaking to John and the readers of his book. We can trust it because it is true!

Organic view of Inspiration 2

The phrase “things which must soon [en tachei] take place” has been interpreted in several different ways—

(1) En tachei is taken by some to mean “soon in time.” These folks say that John was obviously mistaken about the time of fulfillment. He expected the things in the visions to occur immediately, and they did not. This is the view of liberal commentators.
(2) Others take the phrase en tachei to mean “quickly,” or “speedy.” These folks see this as an assurance of the speed with which the events prophesied will occur when the time for fulfillment comes. This is the view of futurist conservative commentators.
(3) I believe the more accurate view is to take en tachie as “shortly.” The time of fulfillment was to begin immediately after Jesus’ Resurrection, Ascension, and Session—to sit at the right hand of the Father.

“Revelation 1:3 gives us an excellent commentary: the time is at hand, and the symbols begin to be realized immediately.” (see Hendriksen, below.) This is the view of those who hold to a realized millennium (Dr. Jay Adams’ term). 

II. We are blessed by keeping the exhortations written in Revelation. vs. 7

vs. 7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” [ESV]

The word “soon” is the same as the one in the last verse—tachei—meaning “shortly.” The same understanding of the word’s indication of imminent fulfillment and deployment throughout the age of the Church applies. Jesus will come when the time arrives for his coming. Until then, he could come at any moment!

This verse contains the sixth of seven “beatitudes.” The reason for such blessing being promised to the reader is obvious because it is the book which most exalts Jesus Christ. The Greek word for blessed is makairos—The word…expresses a permanent state of felicity, rather than the passive reception of a blessing bestowed by another.

The Seven Beatitudes in Revelation [ESV]

III. Angels give us unseen aid as children of God, but we need to take care so we will not give Angels what is due to God alone. vss. 8-9

vs. 8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

The revelation of God was mediated through an angel to John. This was the practice of God since OT times. Acts 7:38 51-52 state—

38 This is the one [Moses] who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles [logion zaō see § note below] to give to us. … 51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”


Note on Acts 7:38 in Greek

§ Logion from logos, “word,” but meaning “a divine declaration; a statement originating from God.” Zaō = from which we derive the English word Zoology. The Amplified Bible renders the words—”divine words that still live.” Matthew Poole says this of living oracles—”God’s law and word is so called, as the only rule to walk by unto life, Deuteronomy 32:45-47—

45 And when Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46 he said to them, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. 47 For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” [ESV]

[The living oracles are]…said to be our life; and it is the only ordinary means of a spiritual and holy life, which it begets and preserves.” (see Mattew Poole)


Note that Moses received revelation through angelic mediation. John stands in the same lineage of prophets as Moses, etc, in the OT. However, even he was tempted to go too far. He was tempted to worship the servant of God rather than God himself. If John was so tempted, so too might the readers be. Hence, the Holy Spirit sees fit to warn all against the worship of angels.

The angel doesn’t accept John’s worship. He uses the present imperative of horaō—”take care!”—”to perceive with inward spiritual perception.” (see Bible Hub). He follows the warning by a terse prohibition—don’t!” The negative particle used in these types of prohibitions indicates that the behavior in progress is strictly forbidden—”Stop!”

His kneeling in the previous verse was “for the purpose of worshiping the angel,” but such worship had commenced. The angel recognized what was coming and forbade it. The angel further clarifies his position by the word “fellow-servant.” The word is sundoulos—a fellow slave along with another. In other words, the two—the angel and John—shared the same position before God. John is grouped also with the prophets in this verse as he was in verse 6. Ephesians 2:19-21 declare how Christ’s church was founded—

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

We will move to part two of the epilogue next week.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Poythress, V. (2000). The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing. 

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© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 22: Blessed Life in the New Jerusalem Described, Part 2

Revelation 22:2-5

Image above public domain; “Tree” from public domain pictures net

The application of Revelation 22:1-5 is—

As we read, reread, and meditate on Revelation, our longing for Christ and the place he has prepared for us to dwell with Him ever increases and our church life is transformed into a vision of what we will experience in eternity.


A Look Back

We saw in the last post—

I. We will only achieve full satisfaction of soul and body from complete fellowship with God in eternity. vss. 1-2a

1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2a through the middle of the street of the city… .


Now let’s proceed to the other amazing details in Rev. 22:2b-5 about our life in the eternal state.

I also want us to think about how that vision affects our life in the church now. After all, the earthly church (in space and time as much as is possible) ought to reflect the ideals of the Bride of Christ in eternity.


II. All of our past physical needs in our life on earth will be met to the fullest in the New Jerusalem. vs. 2b.

vs. 2b … also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Ought not the church today partially meet the needs of those in its midst? Needs include—

(1) emotional support for those who are hurting; (2) financial help for those who cannot meet their own needs for survival; (3) prayer support for those who are overwhelmed in trial; (4) Bible teaching for those who are church members so they can grow in Christ and in the faith. People need to see Christ in us, so they can be drawn to Him. 

II Corinthians 3 tells of our seeing that glory partially now—Roman Table

15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. 17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a [mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. [KJV; emphasis mine]

N.B. Mmirrors in the ancient world were on bronze tables. The surface was polished so one could bend over and get an idea if they were ready to go out of their house. (Table right from Pinterest; Photo mharrsch on flickr taken at “Pompeii)


God’s Face is Toward Us. Always!

A young man’s wife had died, leaving him with a small son. Back home from the cemetery, they went to bed early because there was nothing else he could bear to do.

As he lay there in the darkness, grief-stricken and heartbroken, the little boy broke the stillness from his little bed with a disturbing question, “Daddy, where is mommy?”

The father got up and brought the little boy to bed with him, but the child was still disturbed and restless, occasionally asking questions such as, “Why isn’t she here?” and, “When is she coming back?”

Finally the little boy said, “Daddy, if your face is toward me, I think I can go to sleep now.” In a little while, he was quiet.

The father lay there in the darkness, and then in childlike faith, prayed this prayer: “O God, I don’t see how I can survive this. The future looks so miserable, but if Your face is toward me, somehow I think I can make it.”

…God’s face is always toward us. Nothing ever will be able to separate us from His love. Now, that’s real security. (See Moore, J. W., below)

(I had heard this story in a different version long before Pastor James Moore told it, but I think the way he tells it is better than the way I heard it in a past sermon.)

If God’s face is ever toward us in Christ, ought not our face be toward those who come to our church?


John draws upon Ezekiel for his image of the New Jerusalem. He updates the Old Testament prophecies in light of  Jesus death, burial, resurrection and ascension. Ezekiel 47:12 envisions trees on either side of the river, as well as Rev. 22—

12 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”

The presence of trees in Revelation 22 is John’s way of saying that mankind has regained paradise. It was this that mankind forfeited in the fall of Adam. The nations are now healed and made acceptable as a dwelling place for redeemed humanity.

spring_canal_fall_landscape_leaves_nature_outdoors_park.pg!d

Image above is of trees in full bloom on either side of a canal from Mocah HD Wallpapers; public domain.

III. Our life in the New Jerusalem will be free of sin and centered on worship of the Triune God. vs. 3

vs. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 

The New Heavens and Earth are released from the effects of Adam’s fall. The ground will no longer cursed by God. God’s dwelling place is in the Holy City.

John uses the word doulos (“slave”) to describe the people of God. They belong to God, and are his property, in the good sense of that term. Those who belong to God are taken care of by Him.

God’s people are said to “serve” him. The Greek word is latreuō “the service of worship.” We derive the word liturgy from latreuō. (Do not confuse it with a Latin word liturgus meaning “a servant of the state or an attendant,” Wiktionary.) The word in Greek means a worshiper of God. This word is used of the priestly service performed in the OT temple. This means that the saints will worship the Lord throughout all eternity, and such worship will not be boring or tedious. 


The Revival of the Church Communicates God’s Presence to People

During the Welsh Revival 1904-1905, a Welsh coal miner was heading home after his shift. It was dark and he saw a light on in the chapel. He opened the door, stuck his head in, and then he withdrew, exclaiming “Oh! God is here.”


We will not be in doubt about who is central in eternity—the Triune God. Ought not our church be centered on God now!


People are Not the Audience at Church

“If you were to eavesdrop on the conversations of churchgoers after a typical worship service, you’d hear comments Kierkegaard_olaviuslike, “I loved the band this morning” or “The choir was a little off” or “The sermon was great” or “Pastor Mark missed it this morning.” If you didn’t know anything about Christian worship, other than what you heard from worshipers on their way home from church, you’d figure that worship is some kind of performance. The churchgoers are the audience (or maybe even the critics). The band, choir, preacher, and other leaders are the performers.” (Kierkegaard pictured right from WikiMedia Commons.)

“According to Søren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher, God is the audience for worship. Congregational members were the performers. Worship leaders were the prompters.”  (see Audience for Worship, below.)


J. S. Bach said, “All music should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and the soul’s refreshment; where this is not remembered there is no real music but only a devilish hub-bub.”

He headed his compositions: “J. J.” “Jesus Juva” which means “Jesus help me.”

He ended them “S. D. G.” “Soli Dei gratia” which means “To God alone the praise.” (from https://bible.org/illustration/j-s-bach)


We need such musicians for our worship today. We must look to them as prompters, not as performers!

IV. God’s people will be marked as His very own and will live in His presence. vs. 4

vs. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

In glory we will be able to look on God. However, the Father need not take on human form, nor the Holy Spirit. Jesus already has human form. Other than this explanation, we do not know specifically how this will be fulfilled.This sight of God is called the Beatific Vision—the sight that makes us perfectly blessed!

I John 3:1-2—

1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Let me suggest two further lines of thought—

(1) The Aaronic blessing may give us further insight into “seeing God’s face.” Numbers 6:24-26—

24 The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. [ESV; emphasis mine.]

God’s turning His face toward us is being aware of His presence.

(2) A further idea is given by the Reformers when they used the phrase corem Deo—Latin for “before the face of God.”

“This phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God” (see Sproul Blog, below).

So, all we can say about Rev. 22:4 is to see God’s face is to be overwhelmingly aware of His Holy Presence. If this reflected in the face of Jesus, great.


R. B. Jones, the 1904 Revival in Wales, recalled something of the glory of it.

A sense of the Lord’s presence was everywhere. It pervaded, nay, it created the spiritual atmosphere. It mattered not where one went the consciousness of the reality and nearness of God followed. Felt, of course, in the revival gatherings, it was by no means confined to them; it was also felt in the homes, on the streets, in the mines and factories, in the schools, yea, and even in the theaters and drinking saloons. The strange result was that wherever people gathered became a place of awe, and places of amusement and carousal (revelry) were practically emptied… The pit bottoms and galleries became places of praise and prayer, where the miners gathered to worship ere they dispersed to their several stalls. Even the children of the day schools came under the spell of God. (see Lord’s Presence, below.)


Some things must be left to eternity. We think of the transcendence of God as a Being “way off somewhere.” This is not what transcendence means.


Transcendence of God
(R C Sproul)

“When the Bible speaks of God as transcendent, it is not describing God’s location… . …“up there” or “out there” somewhere. When we say that God is above and beyond the universe, we are saying that He is above and beyond the universe in terms of His being.”(see Sproul Theologian, below).

Let me add: He can be right beside us in location and yet be appreciably different from us and everything around us in creation in His Being. But…when He turns His face toward us, we and all around us are transformed! 

In times of refreshing God let’s His presence appear to us as we are overwhelmed by what he is doing among us. I have had that experience at least once.

When I was nine years old, I went to church camp for the first time. A foreign missionary and our local Baptist Association Missionary spoke. When we sang and the men preached and prayed, I sensed the presence of God in a way I had not done in my local church. My mother told me of similar experiences she had in the late 1940s. It was a heightened sense of God’s presence in our region that lasted through the early 1960s.

V. We will experience in the New Jerusalem the overwhelming, outshining of God’s glory. vs. 5

GodLight2vs. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

The day has finally arrived, and will be the experience of redeemed humanity forever. Our present time is often described in Scripture as “night time.” And the time when Jesus appears is described as the “day.” Romans 13:12 says—The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light [now!].

I Thessalonians 5:5 points out— For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.

II Peter 1:19 describes—

17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. [ESV; emphasis mine]

The Greek word for “carried along” in II Peter 1:21 (pherō) is used of a ship borne along by the wind in its sails in Acts 27:17—

13 Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore. 14 But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. 15 And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. 17 After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along. [ESV; emphasis mine]

Ought we not to pay closer attention to those who were borne along by the Holy Spirit as they wrote the Bible, rather than seeking those today who claim to speak prophecy about day-to-day events?


“The Runaway Bunny”

I quoted from Francis Thompson’s “Hound of Heaven” in the last post. I like another more down-to-earth depiction of love’s relentless pursuit. It is found in the classic children’s book The Runaway Bunny. I first became aware of this children’s book when I saw the movie, “Wit,” staring Emma Thompson and Blythe Danner.

Thompson’s character was a PhD whose scholarly endeavors had made her an expert on the Metaphysical Poets. Her professor who managed her dissertation came to Thompson’s deathbed (stage 5 metastasized cancer) and her professor asked if she wanted her to read from John Donne. A grown comes from her bed, “Noooo!” She then took the children’s book The Runaway Bunny out of her bag. She was taking it to her grandchildren. She read to Thompson’s character from it. Watch the short summary of the scene where Danner reads The Runaway Bunny in the movie WIT.

Brown, Margaret Wise. (1948). The Runaway Bunny (New York: HarperCollins). If you want to read the little children’s book without buy it click here


To be with God and have His face shine upon us will be the greatest blessing of our lives! We can have a smaller encounter as we read God’s Word and pray here and now.

This ends the vision section of the Revelation. I will wrap up the epilogue next.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Audience for Worship. (2014). Who is the audience for worship? Blog. Accessed 20 August 2021 from https://www.theologyofwork.org/the-high-calling/daily-reflection/who-audience-worship

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Lord’s Presence. (2006). The Awareness of God’s Presence in Revival. Blog accessed 20 August 2021 from https://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=46877&forum=40

Moore, J. W. (2019). “Presence of God.” Accessed 20 August 2021 from https://www.preaching.com/sermon-illustrations/illustration-presence-of-god-comfort/

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Poythress, V. (2000). The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing.

Sproul, R. C. (2014). Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing. Kindle Edition. 

Sproul Blog. (2017). “What Does “coram Deo” Mean?” Blog. Accessed 20 August 2021 from https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/what-does-coram-deo-mean

WikiMedia Commons for Images (unless otherwise noted)

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