God’s final Word – Chapter 22, verses 13 through 21


God’s final Word – God’s last invitation

The following comes through the notes of Mark Ramsey and the responses of the class.

  1. The promised Savior of the world

    In these concluding verses, the Bible comes full circle. It opened with the promise of a coming Savior who would redeem His people from their sins.

    And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 NIV)

    Now, the Bible ends with the promise of His second coming. It is only fitting that the book, whose focus is on the second coming, ends with a final invitation in anticipation of that glorious reality. It is an urgent invitation pleading with sinners to come to Jesus Christ and receive the free gift of eternal life before it is forever too late.

    Do you feel the urgency to offer such an invitation?

    One class member responded with a tale of her grandchildren and their reluctance to accept Bible stories now that her daughter seems less accepting of what she was brought up to believe.

    Another class member spoke of feeling the urgency to share the gospel with his neighbors. That neighbor had rejected those overtures for years. Now both were open to the news.

  2. The Person of Christ — Revelation 22:13

    I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Revelation 22:13 NIV)

    As Jesus identifies Himself, His identity expresses Christ’s infinity, eternity and boundless life transcending all limitations. He is the source of all that is true, from beginning to end. It is also a statement of His deity as there can only be one Alpha and Omega, first and last and beginning and end — God. He is God the Son, the second Person of the eternal Trinity.

  3. The exclusivity of heaven — Revelation 22:14-15

    “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14‭-‬15 NIV)

    This section begins with the last of the 7 beatitudes in Revelation. “Blessed are those who wash their robes” graphically portrays the believers’ participation in the death of Christ.

    I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14 NIV)

    Those who have experienced the washing from sin that marks salvation will forever have the right to the tree of life. The tree of life is located in the New Jerusalem and this will be a fulfillment of Jesus’ promise:

    Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7 NIV)

    Heaven is exclusively for those who have been cleansed from their sins by faith in the blood of Jesus and whose names have been written in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.

    All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. (Revelation 13:8 NIV)

    In contrast, everyone else will remain forever outside the New Jerusalem in the lake of fire.

    Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:27 NIV)

    The inclusion of “dogs” is included because dogs were despised scavengers that milled about the cities’ garbage dumps. To call a person a dog was to describe that person as someone of low character. In fact, the first time blatantly impure sinners are called dogs is in Deuternonmy 23:18 referring to male homosexual prostitutes.

    You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the Lord your God to pay any vow, because the Lord your God detests them both. (Deuteronomy 23:18 NIV)

    All those described as excluded are not everyone who have ever committed any of these sins but those who love and habitually practice any such sin, stubbornly clinging to it and refusing Christ’s invitation to salvation.

  4. The truth of the book of Revelation — Revelation 22:16

    “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:16 NIV)

    The expression, “I, Jesus” appears only here in the Bible. This verse testifies to the truth of the whole book of Revelation. Like a king affixing a royal seal to an official document, Jesus ties His reputation as Son of David and Son of God to the prophecies of the book. The words of the book are faithful and true because they were given by the One who is altogether faithful and true.

    In His deity, Christ is David’s root, and in His humanity, He is David’s descendant.

    “The bright morning star” – Jesus promised the overcomers of Thyatira the “morning star” that is, Himself.

  5. Two invitations — Revelation 22:17

    The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17 NIV)

    The last 5 verses in the book of Revelation represent the last God-breathed words we have before the return of Christ. Let that sink in.

    First, God continually speaks an invitation to all who are thirsty – “Come!” Only Christ can quench the deepest needs and necessities of the heart. In fact, the entire book of Revelation can be considered as a long invitation to separate ourselves from the pollution and wickedness of the world and to join God’s eternal banquet. The Lord’s ultimate reason for revealing future events is to draw people to Himself.

    Note the first invitation is for Jesus Christ to come back to earth. And notice that the Holy Spirit and the Church, the bride of Christ, long for His soon return. That is the desire of every true believer.

    The second invitation is for whoever will take the water of life – that is, the salvation offered to all in Jesus Christ. He said that whoever will drink this water will never thirst again.

    but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14 NIV)

    Revelation 22:17 is God’s final invitation in the Bible.

  6. A stern warning — Revelation 22:18-19

    I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. (Revelation 22:18‭-‬19 NIV)

    How do people add to the book of Revelation? (Predicting the date of Christ’s return; adding ways to salvation, etc.) How do people take away the words of Revelation? (We have this new progressive understanding – everything in this book has already happened – this is history, not prophecy.)

    Consider these ways of altering God’s Word: Disobeying the clear commands of Scripture; intentionally ignoring what is written; purposely twisting the true meaning of God’s word to accommodate our opinions and adding other commands or traditions or texts as authoritative truths.

  7. The benediction — Revelation 22:20-21

    I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. (Revelation 22:18‭-‬19 NIV)

    Jesus says He is coming quickly – no promise could offer more hope.

    John adds “Amen” – “So be it!” Then John adds a personal prayer: “Come Lord Jesus!”

    Is that your prayer? Are you ready for the return of the Lord Jesus? Fittingly, the last words of the Bible – “the grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen,” is an expression of God’s grace toward fallen humanity and a desire that all will accept His free gift of salvation.

 

God’s final Word – Chapter 22, verses 6 through 12


 

God’s final Word – A time of urgency

The following comes through the notes of Mark Ramsey and the responses of the class.

  1. A sense of urgency — Revelation 22:6

    The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.” (Revelation 22:6 NIV)

    At this point, all that is left for John to record is this divine epilogue or postscript. All the glorious and gracious purposes that God ordained before the foundation of the world will have been attained. The devastating judgments of the Tribulation will have been carried out. The Lord Jesus will have returned in all His glory, executed His enemies, and reigned on the earth for a thousand years. All the rebels, angels and humans, will have been sentenced to their final, eternal punishment in the lake of fire. The present universe will have been “uncreated” and the eternal new heaven and earth “created,” in which the King of kings will be reigning with His Father. The holy angels and the redeemed of all ages will be dwelling in the new creation and particularly in the New Jerusalem. From the throne in the center of that majestic city, the brilliant, blazing glory of God will radiate throughout the re-created universe. Holiness will characterize all who dwell in the kingdom. They will constantly praise, worship and serve Him throughout eternity in an environment of perfect peace, joy and fulfillment. What is your reaction/response to this time in history?

    One class member responded with the observation that he would fall on his face in worship. Just imagining this scene stretches the human imagination.

    Another class member noted that, since God often acted as His own messenger and often used angels (which translates “messenger”) as messengers, we must be wary of who we worship in heaven (even though holy angels won’t accept worship).

    Another class member said that she would be overcome with the magnificence of the situation.

    These verses are filled with a sense of urgency. Since Jesus could rapture His church at any moment, triggering all the end time events, believers and unbelievers need to be ready. The angel’s words reinforce an important truth: Everything John has seen in Revelation will come to pass.

    The God Who moved the spirits of His spokesmen, the prophets, to inspire both the New Testament and the Oid Testament is the same God Who sent His angel to show His bondservants the things which must soon take place.

    What do you believe your response should be to the book of Revelation?

    One class member responded with “Obedience.”

    “Evangelism” was another response.

  2. Immediate obedience — Revelation 22:7

    “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.” (Revelation 22:7 NIV)

    The original translation of this verse has the word, “Καὶ” (Kai), which means “and”, which marks a change in speakers. The speaker is no longer the angel who spoke in 22:6, but the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who is coming quickly. He pronounces the 6th of the 7 beatitudes. The word “τηρῶν” (teron) translates as “hold fast” or “to guard.”

    As believers we are called to guard or protect the book of Revelation. How do we do that (defend it against detractors who deny its relevance; defend it against critics who deny its veracity and authority as well as confused interpreters who obscure its meaning. In fact, all scripture should be so guarded)?

    As believers, we are called to defend Scripture and to obey it. How do we obey Scripture and this prophecy?

    There was general agreement that the Scripture must be defended. However, one class member cited a source he was not sure of when he noted, “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love.”

    God inspired Revelation for one purpose: to reveal the glory of His Son and call believers to live godly, faithful and obedient lives in light of His return. This book should provide motivation for godly living. Do you believe that it does?

    It is the only book in the Bible that has a special blessing for those who read it and obey it.

  3. Immediate worship — Revelation 22:8-9

    I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!” (Revelation 22:8‭-‬9 NIV)

    Again, we have a change of speakers, this time being John. John’s impulsive worship of the wrong object should serve as a warning to each of us. How easy it is for finite, fallen creatures to get caught up in the moment and forget the One who deserves our full affection and devotion. How prone we are as humans to mistake the gift for the Giver when we receive another of His remarkable blessings. How can we avoid this?

    One class member said that, while we are on earth, we can make a habit of keeping our eyes on God by keeping in the Word.

    Another class member suggested the same might apply to us while in heaven: keep our eyes on Jesus.

  4. Immediate proclamation — Revelation 22:10-11

    Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.” (Revelation 22:10‭-‬11 NIV)

    The message is not to be hidden; it is a message to be proclaimed to produce obedience and worship.

    When the angel says, “Let the one who does wrong…”, he is proclaiming a truth that people’s response to the proclamation of the truth will fix their eternal destiny. The truths can become an instrument of salvation or an instrument of damnation and must be proclaimed as long as men and women still have time to hear them.

  5. Immediate Service — Revelation 22:12

    “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. (Revelation 22:12 NIV)

    Jesus’ statement means that His coming is imminent.

    Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ” (Mark 13:33‭-‬37 NIV)

    When Jesus comes, He will bring His reward. Believers’ eternal rewards will be based on their faithfulness in serving the Lord in this life. The knowledge that Jesus could return at any moment should produce diligent, obedient, worshipful service to God and an urgent proclamation of the gospel to unbelievers.

 

God’s final Word – Chapter 21, verse 9 through 22, verse 5


God’s final Word – The celestial city of Heaven

The following comes through the notes of Mark Ramsey and the responses of the class.

  1. Looking back

    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:1‭-‬6 NIV)

    When the class was asked for their response to this passage, one class member noted that Christ has promised to come back for us. Therefore, these were the best words.

    Another class member said that this underscored her urgency for sharing to her grandchildren.

    Yet another class member noted the wedding feast imagery. He noted that the bride’s party (the Church) would wait for the party of the bridegroom to come at an unknown time. The bride’s party would need to have oil (the Holy Spirit) in their lamps when the groom’s party came. The groom would take the bride to his home (heaven).

    Still another class member noted the wedding feast imagery. He noted how only those with white robes would be allowed to stay and that the robes would be supplied.

    Another class member noted that this all combined to erase their fear of death.

    Finally, one class member observed how this worked to encourage them to share the good news.

    The apostle John was among the eleven that memorable night. Decades later, pondering those events, John recorded Christ’s promise that He would come again to receive His church to Himself and to provide that special place that was prepared for them – a place in His Father’s house that has many rooms. Sixty years later, near the end of the first century, this same John was given a guided tour of the eternal dwelling place of the saints, the new heaven and earth.

    As we take in these incredible scenes, we need to keep in mind that this is an inspired, prophetic unveiling of our eternal home. Human language is inadequate to fully describe the unimaginable magnificence of the believers’ indescribable eternal home.

  2. The origin of the celestial city — Revelation 21:9-10

    One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. (Revelation 21:9‭-‬10 NIV)

    “The bride, the wife of the Lamb” – this image has several meanings in Scripture – the physical Jerusalem and its inhabitants; Israel, the Old Testament people of God and the church, the New Testament people of God. Here, the image of the bride encompasses all of the Old and New Testament concepts. It will be the dwelling of all the redeemed of all the ages. Hebrews 11:10 and 12:22 describe the heavenly Jerusalem “whose architect and builder is God.” The angel then has John witness this Celestial City complete its descent to the new earth.

    For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10 NIV)

    But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, (Hebrews 12:22 NIV)

  3. The appearance of the celestial city — Revelation 21:11

    It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (Revelation 21:11 NIV)

    John uses two words to convey its stunning appearance: glory and brilliance – two terms that describe the brilliant glory of God. This most likely refers to the fiery, glowing presence of God-shekinah glory.

    When John refers to the “jasper” stone, this probably refers to an unblemished, perfectly clear diamond. Nothing on earth even begins to compare what God has prepared for us.

    One class member commented on the difficult matter that John faced translating what he was shown by God into something we can understand.

    That class member wonder what might John have seen to tell us of “brilliance” and “glory?” Considering that he described transparent gold (something that does not occur normally in our universe), what else has he seen, but not been able to describe?

  4. The exterior of the celestial city — Revelation 21:12-14

    It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:12‭-‬14 NIV)

    Upon the gates were the names of the 12 tribes of Israel, representing the totality of the Old Testament people of God and upon the foundations were the names of the 12 apostles of Christ, representing the New Testament church of God. The city will be the dwelling place of the united people of God, whose salvation rests on the completed work of Jesus Christ.

  5. The dimensions of the celestial city — Revelation 21:15-17

    The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. (Revelation 21:15‭-‬17 NIV)

    The size of the city is staggering – nearly 1,500 miles along one wall! This city will be perfectly proportionate to the new earth, which God will fashion for the eternal state.

  6. The materials of the celestial city — Revelation 21:18-21

    The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. (Revelation 21:18‭-‬21 NIV)

    When asked about the gates (each made from a single pearl), one class member commented on how pearls get formed when an injury gets inflicted on the oyster. Likewise, our entry into heaven depends on the stripes laid on Christ for our healing.

    Another class member commented on the pure white quality of the pearl and the purity of Christ’s sacrifice.

    The foundations of the city will be adorned with “every kind” of jewel. Such materials probably symbolize the great diversity of people that will dwell within the city’s walls. Secondly, the city is pure as gold, pure as glass, reflecting the holiness and glory of God. Third, each gate will be created from one giant pearl. The significance of the “pearly gates” is often missed – John Phillips comments:

    “All other precious gems are metals or stones, but a pearl is a gem formed within an oyster- the only one formed by living flesh. The humble oyster receives an irritation or wound, and around its offending article that penetrated and hurt it, the oyster builds a pearl. The pearl, we might say, is the answer of the oyster to that which injured it.” ( Exploring Revelation, p.254)

    The pearl represents pain, resulting in beauty, reminding us that Christ’s suffering had an eternal purpose and opened heaven for us.

    There will be no vanity, no materialism, no envy, and no greed.

  7. The distinctiveness of the celestial city — Revelation 21:22

    I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. (Revelation 21:22 NIV)

    There will be no temple. The center of worship will be the Father and the Son. All the inhabitants will worship forever in the presence and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

  8. The brilliance of the celestial city — Revelation 21:23-27

    The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:23‭-‬27 NIV)

    When asked, one class member said that this brought her feelings of security and peace in light of the pervasive power of God.

    Another class member noted that all believers have their names in the Lamb’s book of life. That will ensure our entrance to heaven.

    The new creation will not have seasons, nor require sources of light as God will illumine heaven and earth with His own glory. In this new creation, God will replace error, sin’s corruption, the fallen flesh and the evil administration of the world. As light dispels darkness, the holy, shining presence of God will drive out all wickedness and falsehood. In this light-the glory of God – all nations will walk. They will pass through the open gates without hesitation. Can you imagine what a glorious place this will be?

  9. The blessing of the celestial city — Revelation 22:1-5

    Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:1‭-‬5 NIV)

    The water of life is not water as we know it; it is a symbol of eternal life.

    With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3 NIV)

    And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:13‭-‬14 NIV)

    It is a constant flow of everlasting life from God’s throne to God’s people. The tree of life is the celestial counterpart to the tree of life in Eden and this tree provides for those who are immortal. The tree of life was a familiar Jewish concept that expressed blessing and the celestial tree symbolizes the blessing of eternal life. The 12 kinds of fruit yielding its fruit every month emphasizes the infinite variety that will fill heaven. The term, “month”, is an anthropomorphic expression of the joyous provision of eternity couched in the familiar terms of time since this is an eternal state and time is no more.

    “Leaves were for healing” – the Greek word, “θεραπείαν” (healing) does not imply illness and a better way to translate it would be “life-giving” or “therapeutic.”

    The saints in the New Jerusalem will also see God’s face.

    Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8 NIV)

    Being perfectly holy and righteous, they will be able to endure the heavenly level of blazing, glorious light from God’s presence without being consumed-something impossible for mortal men.. The redeemed will also be God’s personal possessions – leaving no doubt as to who they belong to forever.

    Their (our) heavenly experience reveals that we will reign forever and ever.

    To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21 NIV)

    Can you imagine? The glorious reality that we, as sinful rebels, made righteous through Christ, will enjoy intimate fellowship with the Father and the Son, Jehovah God Almighty, and the King of kings and Lord of lords, serve Them and reign with Them forever in complete joy and constant praise. Indescribable; incomprehensible.

  10. Reflection

    How does the description of our ultimate destiny address your present frustrations, sorrows or fears? Reflect on the influence our study of this passage has on your attitude, your decisions and your relationship with others.

 

God’s final Word – Chapter 21, verses 1 through 8


God’s final Word – The new heaven and earth

The following comes through the notes of Mark Ramsey and the responses of the class.

  1. Where is your focus?

    Typically, in our daily life, we tend to focus on certain things that provide economic security, safety, good physical and mental health, healthy relationships, happiness and peace is there anything wrong with this?

    One class member noted that temporarily focusing on these might be helpful, but Christ must be the overall focus of our lives.

    Is there anything wrong with desiring material wealth or comfort?

    Again, that class member noted that there is nothing wrong with desiring wealth or comfort; however, those points must not be the focus of our lives. he further noted that Abraham, David, and Solomon were each very rich, but also drew close to God.

    Instant gratification?

    One class member noted that the miracles of Christ were points of instant gratification. The issue with instant gratification does not rest with the delivery system, but the focus.

    Do you ever focus on heaven? Explain.

    Yet another class member explained that he focused on heaven by using Christ’s model prayer (known as “the Lord’s Prayer” and “Our Father”). And another said he focused on Christ through the study of the Word.

    What does the Bible say about focusing on heaven?

    Philippians 3:19-20 tells us that the minds of the enemies of God are on earthly things while our citizenship is in heaven. In Colossians 3:1‭-‬2, we are told to set our hearts and minds on things above and not on earthly things. Also consider James 4:4 and 1 John 2:15-17.

    Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Philippians 3:19‭-‬20 NIV)

    Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1‭-‬2 NIV)

    You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4 NIV)

    Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15‭-‬17 NIV)

    What do you think the Bible means when it says we are to sat our minds and hearts on things above and not to love the world nor the things of the world? A heavenly perspective is vital since everything connected to our spiritual life and destiny is there. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Fellow believers who have already successfully run their earthly race. Our names are recorded in heaven we are citizens of heaven. Our inheritance is there as well as our rewards; we will receive glorified bodies.

    … the day of death better than the day of birth. (Ecclesiastes 7:1b NIV)

    I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; (Philippians 1:23 NIV)

    Do you believe that desiring heaven exerts an influence on your life here on earth? Explain (character, endurance, perseverance; sin; joy, thankfulness; honor God).

    The wholesale response from the class was that such a desire would influence our lives and would result in our speaking of Christ.

  2. The appearance of the new heaven and earth — Revelation 21:1

    Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (Revelation 21:1 NIV)

    God created the world to be ideally suited for mankind, whom He created to enjoy an disharmony and hostility. Creation has groaned for redemption since the Fall in God’s plan, sin will absolutely not have the last word and after the Great White Throne judgment. God will replace this present fallen universe with a new one. The phrase “a new heaven and a new earth” derives from Isaiah 65:17. What Isaiah predicted is now a reality in John’s vision.

    “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. (Isaiah 65:17 NIV)

    Καινόν (pronounced “kainon” and meaning “new”) means new in a qualitative sense-brand new, fresh, never seen before. In the book of Revelation, the sea serves as a “principle of disorder, violence or unrest that marks the old creation,” As there is no longer any sea, this illustrates the fact that the ordering of the new world will be radically different from the present earth.

  3. Twelve “No Mores” in the new heaven and earth
    1. No more sea — Revelation 21:1
    2. No more tears — Revelation 21:4
    3. No more death — Revelation 21:4
    4. No more mourning — Revelation 21:4
    5. No more crying — Revelation 21:4
    6. No more pain — Revelation 21:4
    7. No more thirst — Revelation 21:6
    8. No more wickedness — Revelation 21:8
    9. No more temple — Revelation 21:22
    10. No more night — Revelation 21:23-25
    11. No more closed gate — Revelation 21:25
    12. No more curse — Revelation 22:3

    How does this make you feel?

    All around, the class agreed that it was reassuring to see no more tears, no more thurst, no more closed gate
    and no more curse. One class member noted that no more wickedness and no more closed gate seemed to go hand in hand. Yet another noted that the illumination provided by Christ would both eliminate both night and the need for a temple.

  4. The Capital — Revelation 21:2

    I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2 NIV)

    This is the third city named Jerusalem in redemptive history. The first is the historic Jerusalem, the City of David, which currently exists in Palestine. The second Jerusalem will be the restored Jerusalem where Christ will reign during the millennial kingdom. This is the new eternal city. It is called the holy city because everyone who lives in it is holy. The city comes down out of heaven from God, its “architect and builder.”

    For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10 NIV)

    The implication that it already exists, a truth reinforced by Hebrews 12:22-23.

    But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, (Hebrews 12:22‭-‬23 NIV)

    All of heaven is currently contained in the new Jerusalem; it is separate from the present universe which a tainted by sin. When God creates the new heaven and earth, the new Jerusalem will descend into the new universe and serve as the dwelling place of the redeemed for all eternity.

    By this post in Revelation, the “bride” concept expands to include the church and the rest of the redeemed from all the ages.

  5. The supreme reality — Revelation 21:3

    And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3 NIV)

    God will dwell among us. The supreme glory and joy of heaven is the Person pf God. We will enjoy fellowship with Him; we will see God as He is the pure in heart will see God, we will worship Him, we will serve him and most astonishing of all, the Lord will serve believers.

    “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. (Luke 12:35‭-‬37 NIV)

  6. The changes — Revelation 21:4-6a

    ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. (Revelation 21:4‭-‬6a NIV)

    There and be nothing to be sad about worry about or sorry about. There will be no more pain, Amazing!

    When God says. “It is done, the term carries with it absolute finality. This is not the same as Jesus’ final statement on the cross. “It is finished.” That emphasized something in the past that has come to its intended end – the suffering and payment for the sins of the world. When God says, “It is done, He is pointing forward to a permanent condition that has finally arrived.

  7. The residents — Revelation 21:6b-7

    To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. (Revelation 21:6‭b-‬7 NIV)

    Two descriptive phrases reveal who will live in this glorious new heaven and new earth.

    1. One who thirsts

      Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6 NIV)

      “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. (Isaiah 55:1 NIV)

      As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Psalms 42:1‭-‬2 NIV)

      Their thirst will be satisfied.

      Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13‭-‬14 NIV)

      On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:37‭-‬38 NIV)

    2. And the one who overcomes.

      for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4‭-‬5 NIV)

      And the closing promise of each of the 7 letters in Revelation 2 and 3. Do you consider yourself as one who thirsts? Do you consider yourself as an overcomer? Explain.

      These citizens of heaven will “inherit these things”

      and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, (1 Peter 1:4 NIV)

      The most wonderful promise is “I will be his God and the will the my son.” When we come into our inheritance our adoption all the fully realized.

  8. The outcasts — Revelation 21:8

    But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8 NIV)

    A solemn warning to those who will not participate in the blessings of heaven-all the unforgiven and unredeemed sinners. The choices men and women make in this life determine in which of these realms they will live in forever. Remember this: there is no sin you can commit for which you cannot be forgiven. If you have trusted in the blood of Jesus Christ to forgive and cleanse you, then you are saved and secure forever. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do you recognize the urgency of sharing the gospel?

 

God’s final Word – Chapter 20, verses 7 through 15


God’s final Word – The final judgement

The following comes through the notes of Mark Ramsey.

  1. The return of Satan — Revelation 20:7

    When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison (Revelation 20:7 NIV)

    Remember that Satan and his demon hordes will be imprisoned in the abyss for the duration of the Millennium. Only the redeemed from among the Jewish and Gentile survivors of the Tribulation will go into the kingdom in their normal, physical bodies. Although the initial inhabitants of the millennial kingdom will all be redeemed, they will still possess a sinful human nature. That sin nature will be passed to their offspring. Each successive generation throughout the 1,000 years will be made up of sinners in need of salvation. Many will come to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But, amazingly, despite the personal rule of Christ on the earth, many others will love their sin and reject Him.

    The issue regarding salvation is never lack of information; it is love of sin. What is your position on this statement? (this can be an entire sermon – refer to Romans 1:18-20 and John 3:19)

    The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:18‭-‬20 NIV)

    This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19 NIV)

    Why is Satan released at the end of the Millennium?

    One class member noted that God promised peace to Israel. With man’s sin nature, only the millennium rule of Christ could guarantee the peace of Israel. God is a promise keeper; therefore, we must have a prophesied millennium rule and the prophesied release of Satan.

  2. The Revolt — Revelation 20:8-10

    and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:8‭-‬10 NIV)

    The terms “Gog” and “Magog” are used here as generic references to the nations, or people groups, who are enemies of the Lord. Four corners = four main points of the compass – North, South, East, and West.

    One group of believers who entered the millennium includes Christians like you and me, who received our resurrection bodies at the rapture. At the second coming of Christ, the tribulation saints and Old Testament saints received their resurrection bodies. The third group are the redeemed saints who survived the Tribulation. Those who rebel are the children of the tribulation saints. There will be no possibility of reproduction or death among those of us who are resurrected.

    Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. (Luke 20:34‭-‬36 NIV)

    The battle will be like an execution. The enemies of God will be swiftly, instantly exterminated as they surround Jerusalem, the center of the millennial world and the place of the Messiah’s throne.

    Satan will be cast into the lake of fire joining the Antichrist and the final false prophet where they will be tormented day and night. Just as the righteous will be blessed forever, so the unrighteous will be punished forever.

  3. The Great White Throne Judgement

    What we are about to read describes a terrible scene – an event no one would want to experience. John McArthur describes it as “the most serious, sobering and tragic passage in the entire Bible.” This is commonly known as the Great White Throne judgment. It is the last courtroom scene that will ever take place. The accused, all the unsaved, will be resurrected to experience a trial like no other that has ever been. Those who reject God’s grace and mercy in this life will inevitably face His justice in the life to come. The glorious truth is that nobody needs to end up there.

    1. The scene — Revelation 20:11-12a

      Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. (Revelation 20:11‭-‬12a NIV)

      The throne is described as “great” because it is God’s eternal throne – the seat of His sovereign rule, the place of infinite justice. It is “white” because the verdicts and sentencing that will proceed from it will be pure and righteous, reflecting God’s unimpeachable holiness.

      The Judge on the throne is none other than the eternal, almighty God described in the throne scene in Revelation 4:8-11. Sharing the throne with the Father is the Lord Jesus Christ. Refer to Revelation 3:21 and 22:1 and 3. Though the Father and the Son share the throne, it is the Son who is uniquely in view here as Scripture teaches that He will judge the sinners.

      Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. (John 5:22‭, ‬26‭-‬27 NIV)

      He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. (Acts 10:42 NIV)

      For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31 NIV)

      John noted the startling reality that “from His presence earth and heaven fled away.” This describes the “uncreation” of the universe. It will go totally out of existence.

      But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:10‭-‬13 NIV)

      The uncreation of the universe, like its creation, will take place by the word of God.

      With heaven and earth removed, having no purpose in this final judgment, the Lord will deal with the last group of humans who have not yet been judged, the unsaved. Imagine the different categories of unsaved people from all history: those who existed amidst creation but replaced the Creator with idols and false gods; those who turned their backs on the free grace of God in favor of a works-based religion; those who repeatedly heard the gospel of Christ but rejected Him until it was too late; those who concluded, based on logic, reason and experience, that God doesn’t exist; those who lived out their depravity through selfishness, wickedness and violence.

    2. The summons — Revelation 20:13a

      The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, (Revelation 20: 13a NIV)

      This is the ultimate courtroom drama. The prisoners are summoned from their cells to appear before the Judge. Since their deaths, their souls have been tormented in hades and now the time has come for them to be sentenced to the final eternal hell – the lake of fire. Before the sea was uncreated and went out of existence, it gave up the dead that were in it. Death symbolizes all the places on the land from which God will resurrect new bodies for the unrighteous dead. Hades describes the realm of the dead in general.

    3. The standard — Revelation 20:12b and 13b

      Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. … and each person was judged according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:12b and 13b NIV)

      The books contain the record of every thought, word and deed of every unsaved person who ever lived. Justice demands payment for everyone’s sins. Christ paid that penalty for believers.

      But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5‭-‬6 NIV)

      Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” (Galatians 3:13 NIV)

      God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV)

      No one will be able to claim ignorance of God’s standards because both creation (Romans 1:20) and the conscience (Romans 2:14-15) reveal God’s righteousness. Those without knowledge of God’s law will be judged on the basis of the knowledge they have.

      For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 NIV)

      (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) (Romans 2:14‭-‬15 NIV)

      Each person’s life will be individually evaluated and each person’s punishment will be consistent with that evaluation. Scripture teaches that there are varying degrees of punishment in hell.

      If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. (Matthew 10:14‭-‬15 NIV)

      “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:21‭-‬24 NIV)

      As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” (Mark 12:38‭-‬40 NIV)

      How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29 NIV)

      All sinners in hell will be utterly separated from God and all that comes from His goodness. They will be miserable, but not equally miserable.

    4. The sentence — Revelation 20:14 and 15

      Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14‭-‬15 NIV)

      There is only one way to avoid the terrifying reality of hell. Have you taken advantage of the gift of salvation? Have you shared this free gift of salvation with others?

 

God’s final Word – Chapter 20, verses 1 through 6


God’s final Word – The coming earthly kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ

The following comes through the notes of Mark Ramsey.

  1. The millennium in perspective

    We are currently living in the church age. This is the time when God has temporarily set aside His dealings with Israel and has allowed non-Jews to become part of His kingdom Scripture tells us this setting aside is temporary and God will ultimately keep His promise to Israel.

    I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, (Romans 11:25 NIV)

    The Jews didn’t understand there would be two comings of the Messiah. He came as a suffering Savior, prophesied in Isaiah 53, to be a ransom for the sins of the world. The second time Jesus comes, He will come as King of kings and Lord of lords to establish a literal kingdom on earth. The Old Testament promises this future earthly kingdom for Israel in 2 Samuel 7:12-13, which is called the “Davidic covenant.”

    When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7:12‭-‬13 NIV)

    God’s promise to David of an eternal kingdom. Psalms 89:30-37 makes the same promise.

    “If his sons forsake my law and do not follow my statutes, if they violate my decrees and fail to keep my commands, I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging; but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered. Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness— and I will not lie to David— that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun; it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.” (Psalms 89:30‭-‬37 NIV)

    The millennial debates

    1. The Amillennial view — This is the view that there will be no literal kingdom on earth for a thousand years. This view takes the position that when Israel rejected Christ, they forfeited God’s promises, which were transferred to the church. Now, the millennium will be a spiritually fulfilled kingdom through the church. In this view there is no literal binding of Satan as they believe he is figuratively bound so that he cannot exercise full deception over the world. The problem with this view is that God made an unconditional promise to Israel. Also, does anyone believe that Satan is bound right now?
    2. The Postmillennial view — This view teaches that Jesus will come back after the millennium. This is the idea that the world is going to get better and better until finally, Jesus will return because man has created this perfect world for Him to rule. The concept is that Christians will reclaim the earth and exercise dominion over it for God.
    3. The Premillennial view — This view holds that Christ must return to earth before the millennium in order to usher in the millennium. Only in Christ and His personal return at the second coming can there be a thousand-year reign on earth under Jesus. This is my view, which believe is unquestionably biblically based.
  2. The Removal of Satan — Revelation 20:1-3

    And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. (Revelation 20:1‭-‬3 NIV)

    Revelation 20 follows chronologically from the events of Revelation 19 – the battle of Armageddon and the Antichrist and false prophet being consigned to the lake of fire, in these verses, Satan is bound in the abyss, a place of torment for certain groups of demons for a thousand years. He will have absolutely no influence on the people of the earth for a thousand years until he is released at the end “for a short time.”

  3. The two resurrections — Revelation 20:4-6

    I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4‭-‬6 NIV)

    The first resurrection is the resurrection of saved people and they are raised to experience God’s blessings for eternity. The second resurrection is a resurrection of the unsaved, who are raised from the dead to experience God’s torment forever and ever.

    1. The first resurrection — Who is in the first resurrection? The first resurrection is not a single event in time but refers to several group of believers who receive their resurrected bodies at the appointed time. 1 Cor 15:23 Here’s the order according to Scripture:
      1. Jesus Christ and a select few at His resurrection

        and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. (Matthew 27:52‭-‬53 NIV)

      2. The “dead in Christ” and Christians who are “alive and remain at the rapture of the church.

        Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13‭-‬18 NIV)

      3. Tribulation martyrs and Old Testament saints at the second coming of Christ.

        Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” (Daniel 12:2‭-‬4 NIV)

        I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4 NIV)

      4. Believers who die during the millennium at the end of the millennium. John did not tell us exactly when believers who die during the millennium receive their resurrected bodies but based on the pattern of other believers, it seems it will happen at the end of the millennium.

      When a Christian dies, we (our spirit (soul) is immediately ushered into the presence of God.

      So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. (2 Corinthians 5:9 NIV)

      But there will be a time when we receive our resurrected body-are creation of our physical body that is suited to live for eternity.

    2. The second resurrection — The unbelievers who died before and during the tribulation remain in the grave. Their resurrection will occur after the millennium so that they can be judged. Luke says when an unbeliever dies that they immediately go to hades, which is a temporary waiting place of the unsaved dead.

      “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” (Luke 16:19‭-‬31 NIV)

      At the end of the millennium, all the unsaved will be raised for judgment at the great white throne of God.

      Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11‭-‬15 NIV)

      They will be cast into the lake of fire for eternity-this is the “second death.”

  4. Death is not the end

    When we die, we do not cease to exist. Death is not the end but a doorway through which we enter into eternity – an eternity of God’s blessings or God’s judgment. Are you absolutely certain that God will welcome you into His presence if you were to die today? The only people who are welcomed into heaven are forgiven people-those whose sins have been forgiven by Christ in this life. To receive forgiveness, you have to ask for it.

    Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12‭-‬13 NIV)

 

God’s final Word – Chapter 19, verses 11 through 21


God’s final Word – The glorious return of Jesus Christ

The following comes through the notes of Mark Ramsey.

  1. Is the Second Coming of Christ necessary?

    JFK – January 1961 – discussion with Billy Graham. Do you believe in a bodily return of Jesus Christ to earth? Do you believe the second coming of Christ is necessary? Do we hear much about the return of Christ in our discussions or from the pulpits today?

    The fact is certain: Jesus Christ is returning to the earth one day. The second coming of Christ is the culmination of redemptive history.

    Four reasons the second coming of Christ is important and necessary:

    1. It fulfills the promises in the Bible. There are 1,800 references to the second coming in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, there are over 300 references.
    2. It is necessary to judge the unbelievers of their sin. If Christ doesn’t return, wickedness and sin will only increase and intensify.
    3. It is necessary to depose Satan from his earthly dominion.
    4. Christ must come again to establish His kingdom on earth.

    Revelation 19:1-10 sets the stage for the return of Jesus Christ. Before the wedding feast can occur, Jesus and His bride must come back to the earth to begin His millennium kingdom. Before they get to the earth, all the enemies of the groom and the bride have to be extinguished. This is what we see happening in the second half of Revelation 19.

    After 3 1/2 years, the Antichrist began to persecute Israel and the believers on the earth. During that time, God’s judgments against the earth intensified and those over whom the Antichrist was reigning got tired of everything which was happening and the kings gathered to overthrow the Antichrist in the valley of Armageddon.

    The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. (Revelation 16:12‭-‬16 NIV)

    The world’s forces are fighting to overthrow the Antichrist when they look up in the sky and see the Conqueror, Jesus Christ. Suddenly, the divided human army unites to fight against Christ. This is where we read about the coming King.

  2. The return of the Conqueror — Revelation 19:11-13

    I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. (Revelation 19:11‭-‬13 NIV)

    The last time we saw heaven opened was in Revelation 4:1 when it opened to let John in; this time it opens to let Jesus out, so to speak, because the time has now come in which all of Revelation has been pointing and the time of which Jesus spoke:

    For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. “Immediately after the distress of those days “ ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:27‭-‬31 NIV)

    Jesus is no longer portrayed as He was in humiliation. (Zechariah 9:9 – humble and mounted on a donkey) Now, He rides the traditional white horse ridden by victorious Roman generals. White also symbolizes the absolutely holy character of the Rider.

    “Faithful and True.”

    “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. (Revelation 3:14 NIV)

    He is faithful to His promises and He always speaks the truth.

    “In righteousness He judges” – Jesus came the first time as Savior; He will return as Judge. When He came the first time, He was judged by wicked people; when He returns, he will judge the wicked people. “…wages war” – No longer the Suffering Servant but now the warrior King.

    “His eyes are like blazing fire” – nothing escapes the notice of His penetrating vision.

    “…(M)any crowns” – symbolic of His royal rank and regal authority. An exchange for the crown of thorns.

    “The name no one knows except Himself” – Interestingly, Jesus extended a promise to believers that he will give them a new name “which no one knows except the one who receives it.” Revelation 2:17 (I believe this represents a deep, personal and inseparable relationship believers enjoy with Christ – a relationship as unbreakable as Christ’s relationship with the Father)

    “(A) robe dipped in blood” – a picture of judgment; the blood of His enemies.

    “I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. It was for me the day of vengeance; the year for me to redeem had come. (Isaiah 63:3‭-‬4 NIV)

    “His name is called the Word of God” – the Rider is unmistakably the Lord Jesus Christ.

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 NIV)

    The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:‬14 NIV)

    He is the full expression and revelation of God.

  3. The army of the Conqueror — Revelation 19:14

    The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14 NIV)

    Four divisions make up the glorified troops – the raptured church, the Tribulation saints, the Old Testament saints, who are resurrected at the end of the Tribulation and the holy angels.

    “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:1‭-‬2 NIV)

    The heavenly army is unarmed. Why? (Jesus alone will destroy His enemies. The saints did not come to fight but to reign with Jesus.)

    I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4‭-‬6 NIV)

    Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? (1 Corinthians 6:2 NIV)

  4. The rule of the Conqueror — Revelation 19:15-16

    Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and Lord of Lords. (Revelation 19:15‭-‬16 NIV)

    Here, we see the sword of judgment, showing the deadly power of Christ’s words. Once He spoke words of comfort, now He speaks words of death. The dead will include all those gathered for battle at Armageddon. The rest of the world’s unredeemed people will be judged and executed at the sheep and goat judgment that follows Christ’s return.

    “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31‭-‬46 NIV)

    During His 1,000 year reign, He will rule the nations with a rod of iron and swiftly judge all sin and instantly put down any rebellion. Returning to the judgment at the outset of Christ’s rule, John writes that He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God symbolizing God’s wrath. The unbelievers spurned God’s grace and now they receive His wrath.

    The name written on the banner around His robe and on His thigh expresses His sovereign triumph over all foes and His absolute rule in the coming Kingdom – KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

  5. The victory of the Conqueror — Revelation 19:17-21

    And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.” Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. (Revelation 19:17‭-‬21 NIV)

    Revelation 19 describes two feasts. The first feast is the marriage supper of the Lamb, which is a time of rejoicing. The second feast is the “great supper of God,” which is a time of devastating judgment. Vultures and other birds of prey will eat the flesh of the 10 kings and the commanders as well as all the soldiers.

    This is the first mention of the lake of fire in Revelation. It is the place of eternal torment for those who die apart from Christ. Right now, unbelievers go to a place of suffering, called hades. This is a temporary abode of the dead unbelievers, where they are held until their resurrection.

    “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” (Luke 16:19‭-‬31 NIV)

    As of now, no one is in the lake of fire. The first two occupants will be the Antichrist and the false prophet. Unbelievers who died will receive their resurrected bodies and be judged at the great white throne judgment and along with Satan, will be thrown into the lake of fire for eternity.

  6. What about the here and now?

    To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2:16‭-‬19 NIV)

    Jesus came the first time to be our Savior – to pardon us from our sins if we accept His forgiveness. But, if we leave this world without receiving that pardon from our sins, then we will face Jesus one day as our Judge. The second coming of Jesus Christ will be the worst day of your life if you have to face Him as your Judge. But, the second coming of Jesus will be the best day of your life if you receive His forgiveness now and look forward to the wonderful future that He has planned for you.

 

God’s final Word – Chapter 19, verses 1 through 10


God’s final Word – Giving thanks to God

The following comes through the notes of Mark Ramsey and the responses of the class.

  1. Giving thanks to God

    The Bible lists many reasons for giving thanks to God:

    1. God is to be praised first for the attributes of His glorious being.

      Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. (Psalms 30:4 NIV)

      Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever. (Psalms 136:26 NIV)

      Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalms 106:1 NIV)

      In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. (Psalms 25:1 NIV)

      Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV)

    2. God is to be praised for His mighty works.

      Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. (Isaiah 25:1 NIV)

      I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalms 139:14 NIV)

      that I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation. (Psalms 9:14 NIV)

    3. God is praised for the gift of His Son.

      Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV)

      For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)

      Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:38 NIV)

    4. Praise God always and for everything.

      always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:20 NIV)

      give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)

    5. Praise God for the destruction of the wicked.

      The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked. Then people will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.” (Psalms 58:10‭-‬11 NIV)

      Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness. (Psalms 96:11‭-‬13 NIV)

    For what do you give praise to the Lord?

    Numerous members of the class laid out scenarios for which they praised God for.

    The praise seen in heaven throughout Revelation reaches a crescendo in this passage. The heavenly rejoicing is not over the damnation of those who reject God but because Jesus Christ will soon remove those obstinate sinners from the world and God will be properly honored, the Lord Jesus Christ will be enthroned and the earth will be restored to its lost glory.

    This is the only place in the New Testament where “halleluiahs” appear. It simply means “Praise the Lord.”

  2. The first hallelujah — Revelation 19:1-2

    After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” (Revelation 19:1‭-‬2 NIV)

    “After these things” marks the beginning of a new vision which takes place after the destruction of Babylon. The text does not identity those whose composite voices make up the loud voice of the multitude, but they are probably angels. The redeemed saints are to join in the praise in Revelation 19:5-8. So, believe the uncounted millions of angels make up the majestic awe-inspiring choir singing halleluiah because the false church has fallen. The great harlot is the false church during the first half of the Tribulation which assists the Antichrist in his rise to power. Midway during the Tribulation, the Antichrist and the ten kings decide they no longer need the harlot and they will destroy her.

  3. The second hallelujah — Revelation 19:3

    And again they shouted: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”
    Revelation 19:3 NIV)

    Babylon’s judgment provoked the first outburst of rejoicing; the aftermath of her destruction prompts the heavenly chorus for a second time. The economic aspect of Babylon is now destroyed.

    “The smoke rises up forever and ever” indicates that the judgment is final, permanent and irreversible. There will be no more false religion or worldly philosophy.

  4. The third and fourth hallelujahs — Revelation 19:4-8

    The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: “Amen, Hallelujah!” Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both great and small!” Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. (Revelation 19:4‭-‬6 NIV)

    The 24 elders are best seen as the representatives of the church and the four living creatures are the cherubim, a high-ranking order of angels, who cry out, “Amen, Halleluiah!” (so let it be-praise the Lord)

    The voice from heaven is likely an angel, since he refers to God as “our God” and he calls another group to join the anthem of praise. These are most likely the redeemed believers in heaven as they are described as God’s bondservants: “The small and the great” embraces everyone who is redeemed.

    The fourth hallelujah is proclaimed because the Lord, our God, the Almighty reigns. The evil world system has been completely destroyed and God’s kingdom has come into its fullness.

  5. A song for the Lamb and His Bride — Revelation 19:7-10

    Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.” (Revelation 19:7‭-‬10 NIV)

    In Revelation 19:7-8, God is being praised because a marriage has taken place. The phrase “has come” denotes an action that has already been completed. It’s the marriage of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.

    Who is the bride? Ephesians 5:25-27 says the bride of Christ is you and me, the church of Jesus Christ, those who were saved during the unique period of history between Pentecost and the rapture of the church.

    When and how will this wedding take place? To understand this fully, we need to review the phases of a Jewish wedding, on which the marriage of the Lamb is modeled:

    1. A marriage contract was drawn on and a dowry was paid. The parents usually initiated the marriage contract when the future bride and groom were still children and the marriage became legal when the bride’s father paid her dowry. Here, the wedding contract was drawn up and the dowry paid when Christ shed His blood on the cross, giving His life for His bride. This was the new covenant, joining believers to Christ in a spiritual marriage.
    2. The marriage ceremony took place in the groom’s home. When the couple reached a suitable age, the groom, along with his friends, would arrive at the bride’s house unannounced and escort her back to his house, where the official public marriage took place. Matthew 25:1-13. Christ will arrive in the clouds unannounced, to rapture the church, His bride (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), fulfilling the second phase of the wedding.
    3. The wedding feast was celebrated. The groom’s father hosted a multi-day party. Christ attended a wedding feast in Cana where He turned water into wine. John 2:1-11. At the end of the Tribulation, Christ will return with His bride, the church, to celebrate the great marriage feast at the beginning of the millennial kingdom and stretch throughout the millennial reign to be finally consummated in the new heavens and the new earth. In the new heavens and new earth, the bride concept will be expanded to include the redeemed of all ages as the New Jerusalem becomes the bridal city. In the Old Testament God is the Bridegroom of Israel.

    Who are the honored guests? (Revelation 19:9) (this is the fourth of seven beatitudes in Revelation). These are believers who are not the bride of Christ but are friends of the bride and groom The Old Testament saints, the New Testament believers like John the Baptist, who died before the birth of the church at Pentecost, and the Tribulation martyrs who gave their lives for Christ. See The Revelation Record, p.389

    The angel reassured John, “These are the true words of God” and John who was so overwhelmed that he fell prostrate at the feet of the angel, who rebuked him, reminding him that the angel was a fellow servant with John. God alone is to be worshipped — not the most glorious angel nor the most exalted saint. Only the one true God in three persons Father, Son and Holy Spirit — deserves our praise and worship. At the end of these astounding visions, the angel turns John attention back to the One to whom the book of Revelation ultimately points — He is the One to whom all prophecy has always pointed Jesus Christ, the “spirit of prophecy.”

 

God’s final Word – Chapter 14, verses 14 through 20


God’s final Word – The final reaping of the Earth

The following comes through the notes of Mark Ramsey.

  1. Prophecies of the final judgement

    Jesus came the first time as a servant; He will return as the sovereign King and Judge. In His first coming, He came in humility; in His second coming, he will come in majesty and splendor; the first time He came to the earth, He came “to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10); when He returns, it will be to “judge the living and the dead” (2 Timothy 4:1). Jesus came the first time as the Sower, He will come again as the Reaper.

    The cataclysmic “Day of the Lord” judgment is about to fall on Satan, his demon hordes, the Antichrist and all the wicked, unrepentant people of the world. This judgment is depicted in this passage as the final reaping of the earth.

    Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, proclaiming victory, mighty to save.” Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. It was for me the day of vengeance; the year for me to redeem had come. I looked, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that no one gave support; so my own arm achieved salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me. I trampled the nations in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground.” (Isaiah 63:1‭-‬6 NIV)

    During His earthly ministry, Jesus repeatedly warned of the coming day of judgment. The Old Testament prophets presented striking parallels with Revelation 14. Isaiah 63:1-6 pictures the divine Judge’s garments stained red from the winepress of His wrath and in Isaiah 63:6, He cried out, “I trod down the peoples in My anger and made them drunk in My wrath and I poured their lifeblood on the earth.”

    Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow— so great is their wickedness!” Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the heavens will tremble. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel. (Joel 3:13‭-‬16 NIV)

    Joel 3:13-16 helps us understand the nature of the symbols in Revelation 14. The valley of decision refers to the Jezreel Valley near the biblical city of Megiddo.

    Joel, Isaiah and the Lord Jesus Christ all spoke of a coming harvest of divine wrath when the Messiah will execute His final judgment. What is your emotional and spiritual response to this coming judgment?

    This passage pictures the final harvest of divine wrath in two agricultural motifs: the grain harvest which is the seven bowl judgments and the grape harvest, which is the battle of Armageddon. It is important to realize that we are only seeing a brief symbolic preview of these events.

    Do you ever wonder, “Why does God allow evil to continue unchecked in this world?” With the Lord, justice is delayed but not denied. In His mercy, God has delayed judgment for as long as possible. 2 Peter 3:9. The only reason God has not judged the world yet is that He is giving unbelievers one last time to repent. Are you grateful for His delay? Explain.

    But there will be a day when God’s patience will run out. His mercy will give way to judgment. Knowing this day is coming, do you feel any urgency or desire to share the gift of salvation? Explain.

  2. The grain harvest
    1. The Reaper — Revelation 14:14

      I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. (Revelation 14:14 NIV)

      1. White Cloud —

        “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13‭-‬14 NIV)

        Throughout Scripture, the cloud represents the glory of God.

        Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. (Exodus 13:22 NIV)

        While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud. (Exodus 16:10 NIV)

        Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Exodus 40:35 NIV)

        It also represents God’s power and glory in the New Testament Matthew 17:5 – Mount of Transfiguration; Acts 1:9 – Christ’s ascension; Jesus said “they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” Mark 13:26

      2. Son of Man – The same Son of Man whom John saw at the beginning (Revelation 1:13) appears again sitting on the cloud. He is sitting as He waits for the proper time to stand and begin reaping. The reaping (the 7 bowl judgments) will be followed by Christ’s return to establish His kingdom. Son of man was the Lord’s favorite title for Himself during His incarnation. The text does not use the definite article “the” son of man; yet it is the same description as Revelation 1:13, possibly because this is Jesus in His glorified state. Regardless, there is no doubt that this is Jesus Christ in His glorified state and this is the last time Scripture refers to Him by that title.
      3. Crown of Gold – This is a στέφανον (pronounced “stephanon”) crown worn by victors in war – the crown of triumph and conqueror over His enemies.
      4. Sharp Sickle in His Hand – Sickles were used to harvest grain. This is a picture of the Lord’s enemies being cut down like grain.
    2. The Ripeness — Revelation 14:15

      Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” (Revelation 14:15 NIV)

      This angel comes out of the heavenly temple, from before the throne of God and pleads for Jesus to begin reaping. A created angel cannot command the Son of Man to proceed with judgment. Therefore, the cry should be regarded as a plea. The Greek word translated “ripe” suggests that the condition of wicked humanity has become “overripe.” This tells us that the Lord, in His mercy, has delayed judgment for as long as possible.

      The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)

    3. The Reaping — Revelation 14:16

      So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. (Revelation 14:16 NIV)

      This is one of the most tragic and sobering statements in all of Scripture. Chapter 16 details the seven bowl judgments.

  3. The Grape Harvest
    1. The Reaper — Revelation 14:17

      Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. (Revelation 14:17 NIV)

      The reaper is the 5th angel. Angels play a prominent role in Revelation – summoning the four horsemen, sounding the 7 trumpets, defeating Satan and his demon hosts, pouring out the 7 bowl judgments, announcing the battle of Armageddon and binding Satan. The Son of Man will be assisted by the holy angels in His final judgment.

    2. The Ripeness — Revelation 14:18

      Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” (Revelation 14:18 NIV)

      The sixth angel appears and is designated as the one who has power over fire. He came out from the altar which is associated with the prayers of the saints. (Revelation 6:9-11) His appearance means the time has come for those prayers to be answered. Unrepentant sinners are depicted as clusters of grapes to be cut off from earthly existence.

    3. The Reaping — Revelation 14:19-20

      The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia. (Revelation 14:19‭-‬20 NIV)

      All the enemies of God who survive the 7 bowl judgments will fall into the great wine press of God’s wrath. This will be a slaughter beyond our imagination and blood will flow deeply in troughs and streambeds. Revelation 19:11-21 describes the scene.

  4. God’s Justice
    God’s justice holds everyone accountable. For the believer, God’s justice was poured out on Jesus when He hung on a cross. For the unbeliever, God’s justice will be poured out on them.
    God’s justice is coming. How will you respond? You can decide to be God’s friend by confessing your sinfulness, repenting and trusting in Jesus’ death and resurrection as the only means of salvation and then, commit to live your life in a way that pleases Him (1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10) or you can decide to be God’s enemy, in which the judgment of Revelation 14 is reserved for you.
    As a believer, are you using your freedom in Christ to live a life free from sin’s dominion? Have you forgotten that there will be an accounting of your works at the judgment seat of Christ? What can you expect from the One Who said:

     

    I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:23 NIV)

 

God’s final Word – Chapter 14, verses 1 through 5


God’s final Word – Triumphant Saints

The following comes through the notes of Mark Ramsey and the responses of the class.

  1. Triumphant living

    Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:1‭-‬5 NIV)

    The Bible speaks of the Christian life in triumphant terms.

    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37 NIV)

    for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4‭-‬5 NIV)

    But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV)

    But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. (2 Corinthians 2:14 NIV)

    However, believers’ triumphs and victories in this life are incomplete and marred by setbacks and defeats. The world, the flesh and the devil take their toll on our best efforts. Regardless, today, would you describe yourself as living in triumphant terms? Explain.

    One class member said that he lived triumphant because Christ conquered all. Another class member quoted Romans 8:37 saying “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

    Chapter 14 is a bright contrast to the darkness of chapter 13. Chapter 14 describes the Lamb, angels, redeemed saints, genuine worship and those sealed by God. In chapter 13, there is falsehood, wickedness, corruption and blasphemy. In chapter 14, there is truth, righteousness, purity and praise.

    This passage yields important practical principles for triumphant Christian living today.

    Please note that the events in chapter 14 are not in chronological order. Jesus does not return until chapter 19 and He sets up His kingdom in chapter 20. John saw a preview of what is to come, like a trailer for a movie coming out soon. By the way, this is what we are doing in studying Revelation – allowing God to remind us of the victory that is still to come.

    These 144,000 faithful followers of Jesus fulfill these prophecies:

    Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 37:31‭-‬32 NIV)

    “In that day,” declares the Lord, “I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief. I will make the lame my remnant, those driven away a strong nation. The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever. (Micah 4:6‭-‬7 NIV)

    During the Tribulation, they will confront unbelievers, call them to Christ through repentance and faith and proclaim catastrophes of the coming judgments. How do you compare yourself to these believers? Explain.

    A class member noted that she makes a point to not compare herself to others. Furthermore, it would be hard to determine just how one would react to the extreme circumstances of the tribulation. 

  2. The marking of both sides — Revelation 14:1

    Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1 NIV)

    This is a monumental moment in redemptive history.

    “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” (Psalms 2:6‭-‬9 NIV)

    The moon will be dismayed, the sun ashamed; for the Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders—with great glory. (Isaiah 24:23 NIV)

    Unbelievers will receive the mark of the beast (13:16-17) and the 144,000 (12,000 Jewish believers from each of the twelve tribes of Israel) will have the mark of God placed on their foreheads (7:3) for their protection. They will preach the gospel and they will not be harmed regardless of Satan and the unbelievers’ desire to kill them.

    Despite all Satan’s efforts, all 144,000 will survive and meet Jesus on Mount Zion at the second coming. They will enter the millennial kingdom as living men.

    Only the redeemed people will enter the kingdom. When Satan is released at the end of 1,000 years, he will lead a rebellion against Christ. How can this happen?

    One class member pointed to the children born to those who accept Christ during the Tribulation (but are not martyred).

    Children will be born to the redeemed and some will not believe. In fact, there will be enough unregenerate people by the end of the Millennium for Satan to lead a worldwide rebellion.

    When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:7‭-‬10 NIV)

    Scripture speaks of salvation during the Millennium – a salvation the 144,000 will no doubt proclaim. Do you find it amazing that people will rebel against Jesus at the end of the Millennium?

    One class member noted that, due to the depravity of the current generation, nothing surprises him.

    Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:3 NIV)

    This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’ ” (Zechariah 8:23 NIV)

  3. The voice of God — Revelation 14:2-3

    And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. (Revelation 14:2‭-‬3 NIV)

    and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory. (Ezekiel 43:2 NIV)

    His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. (Revelation 1:15 NIV)

    Ezekiel 43:2 likens the voice of God to the sound of many waters and Revelation 1:15 describes the voice of the Lord Jesus in the same manner. This mighty voice had a musical quality-harps in the Old Testament are frequently associated with joyous praise.

    Heaven will resound with joyous praise when Jesus returns in triumph to establish His earthly kingdom.

    What is the new song? The song of redemption. All heaven will overflow with praise because God’s redemptive work culminating in the return of Christ is accomplished.

    Why is the song restricted to the 144,000? Scripture doesn’t say but Henry Morris offers a possible explanation in The Revelation Record, p.260.

    The song was a new song, never before heard in earth or heaven. The theme of the song is not revealed but whatever it is, it is uniquely appropriate to the unique experiences of this unique body of 144,000 dedicated Christian witnesses. They had been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, protected by the name of the Father sealed on their foreheads, and completely dedicated to His service and testimony. Many have been Christ’s faithful witnesses and martyrs through the centuries, but never a group like this. The song which they singno one else could ever really “learn” (the Greek word means “experimentally understand”). The heavenly assembly could sing the words and the tune, but only the 144,000 could truly understand its meaning, for it was their new song.

    The Scriptures tell of nine “new songs,” and each one speaks of a glorious theme specifically designed for the singer of the song. The first six are in the book of Psalms (Psalm 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1;144:9;149:1) and one is in Isaiah 42:10. One of the new songs was sung by the redeemed host at the throne of the Lamb when He received the earth’s title (Revelation 5:9). The last new song is here on this occasion. One other song is mentioned in Revelation, but it is not a “new song,” being identified rather as “the song of Moses, and of the Lamb” (see on Revelation 15:3).

    Although the words of the song of the 144,000 are not recorded, it surely dwells in part at least on the great truth that they had been “redeemed from the earth.” Although in one sense all saved people have been redeemed from the earth, these would know the meaning of such a theme in a more profound way than others. They had been saved after the rapture, at that time in history when man’s greatest persecutions and God’s greatest judgements were on the earth. It was at such a time that they, like Noah (Genesis 6:8), had “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” and had been separated from “all that dwell upon the earth” (Revelaton 13:8). Not only had they been redeemed spiritually but, precursively as it were, they had been redeemed from the very curse on the earth (Genesis 3:17), being protected from pain and death by the guarding seal. Further, they had apparently even been set free from the very presence of sin in their lives in order to accomplish the unique and demanding ministry ordained for them by the Lamb.

  4. The darkness of the Tribulation — Revelation 14:4

    These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4 NIV)

    In the midst of the darkness of the Tribulation period, with all divine restraint removed and sin is released like a flood, the 144,000 will shine forth like beacons of purity. The sexual purity reference means that they will stand apart from the sin of the culture. (14:4a)

    They will be completely loyal to the Lamb no matter what the cost. (14:4b) Do you follow Jesus wherever He goes? Are you willing to obey Him regardless of the cost? Explain. In other parts of the world today, many are paying a steep price for following Jesus. The 144,000 may legitimately be viewed as the first fruits of redeemed Israel in the Tribulation period. (14:4c)

  5. God’s Truth — Revelation 14:5

    No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:5 NIV)

    They will speak God’s truth without compromise.

    They will do no wrong; they will tell no lies. A deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.” (Zephaniah 3:13 NIV)

    “Blameless” is better understood as sanctified who are called to holiness. Does the description of the 144,000 convict you as a follower of Jesus? (sexually chaste; follow the Lamb without hesitation; they have no lies on their lips; they are set apart for holiness in an unholy world)

    Take some time to do a self-examination. Is my lifestyle an unspoken testimony of God’s grace?

    1. Do keep myself pure and above reproach?
    2. Do I practice immediate obedience to the statements of Scripture? Or, do delay, rationalize and pick and choose what to obey?
    3. Do consider my speech against the standard of absolute truth? Or, do tell half-truths or deception?
    4. Do cultivate a blameless lifestyle that remains the same in private and in public?

    These 144,000 will spearhead the greatest revival the world will ever know. Their lives and ministry provide a pattern for us to follow. Will you be part of the effort to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the culture that surrounds you?