Revelation series, post #14

Recap

Let’s start with a quick recap of the four main steps in the Inductive Method of Bible study:

  1. Pray – the Spirit is our Teacher and Guide.
  2. Observe – only looking at what the text says – do not jump to any conclusions here.
  3. Interpretation – ask about the meaning to those to whom the book was originally written. Here we ask why questions; we do not ask about ourselves or our society in this step.
  4. Application – application is the goal of Bible study, leading to transformed lives and societies, but it is the last step in the method. Jumping to application prematurely can lead to incorrect doctrine.

Bear these steps in mind as we get into the text.

Activity

Try getting into the method a little for yourself:

  1. Pray. Ask God to open greater understanding of Revelation’s message to the original readers, and the application for your life today.
  2. Observe. What is promised with the coming of the eternal state?
  3. Interpretation. Can you see any contrasts or comparisons between what is coming as given in Revelation 21-22, and what happened in Genesis 1-3?

Act VII All things New; 21:1-22:5

Setting

Where is the setting of Act VII (Rev 21:1)? . . .

The new heaven and a new earth.

In these last two chapters we get a glimpse of what is to come with Christ’s Second Advent and the calling in of our eternal state. In it we see a beautiful contrast between Genesis and Revelation. God really has made all things new! This is the conclusion of His master plan of salvation, started all the way back in Genesis 3. Man’s sin broke God’s perfect world, but He has restored it!

Genesis Revelation
1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth 21:1 New heaven and earth
1:5 The darkness He called night 21:25 No night there
1:16 God made the 2 great lights 21:23 No need of sun or moon
2:8 God planted a garden 21:2 The holy city
2:9 The tree of life 22:2 The tree of life
2:10 A river flows out of Eden 22:1 The river of the water of life
2:17 You shall die 21:4 Death will be no more
2:2-4 The man . . . woman 21:9 The bride, the wife of the Lamb
3:1 The serpent (appears) 20:10 Devil thrown into lake of fire
3:6 Serpent (appears) victorious 20:10 Devil defeated
3:6 sin enters 21:27 Nothing unclean will enter the city
3:8 The man and his wife hide from God 22:4 They will see His face
3:8 God no longer walks with man 21:3 He will dwell with them
3:13 Initial victory of serpent 22:3 Ultimate victory of the Lamb
3:16 Childbirth pangs increased 21:4 No pain
3:17 Ground cursed 22:3 Nothing accursed
3:19 Return to dust 22:5 They will reign forever
3:23 Sent from the garden of Eden 21:25 Gate will never be shut
3:24 Access to the tree of life is blocked 22:14 Access to the Tree of Life reopened

Doesn’t that make you want to weep? God’s redemption plan completed!!!

Scene 1 – No more sea and the New Jerusalem (21:1b-2)

The sea can be seen as a place of perpetual tumult, it is also the place the beast came out from. Here, the tumult is ended. (We will look at the New Jerusalem below). 

Scene 2 – No more death and God’s dwelling place with man plus the New Jerusalem (21:3-21)

Read 21:3-8. What beautiful words of hope and encouragement! This is what our souls long for and what will be ours at the second coming of our King!

Now let’s have a look at the New Jerusalem. It’s mentioned in Rev 21:2 as a Bride adorned for her husband and then expanded upon in Rev 21:9-27. Notice that there is lots and lots and lots of repetition of the number 12 as well as numbers that add up to, or multiples of, 12 (such as 4 x 3 gates and 12000 stadia, 144 cubits).

There are three main interpretations:

  1. Some say it is a literal city above earth -> with the nations going in and out.
  2. Some say it’s a symbolic city. 
  3. Others think it is symbolic of the Bride, thus the Church/believers. Remember that 12 is symbolic of God’s people, and the 12 gates have the names of the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 foundations have names of 12 apostles of the Lamb. Also we see in the next scene that God “is the temple”, so the city could be the Bride.

Scene 3 – No temple (21:22)

There is no temple because God is the temple; there is no more need of a temple. The implication is intimacy! The temple was needed so that unclean people could draw near to a holy God; God has purified a people for Himself.  

Scene 4 – No moon or sun (21:23-24)

We will get to walk by the light of the glory of God. Now we experience moments of coming into the partial glory of God, in eternity we will get to walk by the light of His glory and the Lamb of God will be our lamp. Isn’t this just an amazing chapter! Whenever you are discouraged, you only need to read Revelation 21 and 22 and be rejuvenated by the end of the matter for believers!!

God will be our light

 Scene 5 – No night and gates never shut (21:25-26) 

The gates will never be shut because gates are for protection, but there is no more need for fear! Imagine the original readers: no more need to fear anything! Live with open gates. In this life, many believers will face persecution for their faith, yet in eternity we will live with complete safety and security.

Scene 6 – Nothing unclean (21:27)

This is further encouragement for our original readers that there is nothing unclean. It should also uplift all of our spirits when we look upon the broken state of this world. A time is coming when all will be good, holy, pure and clean!

Scene 7 – Tree of Life (22:1-5)

Read Rev 22:1-5. Don’t just read it – read it out loud! 

  • There will be constant access to the River of Life
  • There will be constant access to the Tree of Life
  • The nations will be healed
  • There will be nothing accursed
  • The throne of God and the Lamb will be in it
  • We will worship Him
  • We will see His face
  • We will bear His name
  • God will be the light
  • Saints will reign forever and ever – sharing His glory as co-heirs with Christ Jesus!

Big picture of Act VII

Let’s recap the big picture of this glorious, beautiful Act by considering how the original readers would have been encouraged.

In 21:3 we see that God dwell with them, and again in 21:22 that there will be no temple for the Lord is their temple.

In 21:6-8 we read “it is done” – there is going to be an end of their suffering; there is coming an eternity of no pain, no sorrow, no evil. God again shows that His conquering saints are in a different camp, the camp that is adopted as God’s children. What a call to endurance!!

In 22:4 we see that His servants will see His face. Not even Moses was able to see God’s face without dying! This is their heritage if they overcome. This is our inheritance if we remain faithful. We will be pure and spotless and spend an eternity looking upon the radiant, all powerful face of God Almighty that no eye can yet behold.

22:4 They are sealed in God; they have His mark on their forehead; they are sealed for salvation!

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)

And in 22:5 we see God’s servants will reign forever and ever. Now they are persecuted by their society and government. In eternity they will reign with God in righteousness!

Christ promised us tribulation in this world, but who ultimately wins?

JESUS! And His saints!

We endure now for an eternity of holiness and purity with God!

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

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)

This is why it is so very important that we store up the treasures of His Word in our hearts. Tribulations are coming against His saints in this world, and during them we need to hold onto the promises of Scripture.

 

Next post we will conclude our Revelation series, looking at the “Epilogue” to this epic “Drama”.

Discipline, what a beautiful word

​​Developing discipline, developing character

I’m not good at routine. Those of you who are familiar with Meyers Briggs will understand why when I say that I’m an NP – big picture, last minute, don’t like to feel trapped by plans, pioneer. This is part of my God-given DNA, but sadly I’ve also used it as an excuse to neglect some of what are known as “the spiritual disciplines”.

I didn’t like fasting; one of the “spiritual disciples”. You got to read how God addressed that in my last post – and how I’m coming to love it because of the fruit it produces.  But this is the whole point of the “spiritual disciplines” – to produce fruit of righteousness within us, developing our character and pushing us towards God. They help us to disciple our mind and body to focus on the things of God, rather than the things of this earth.

Scripture has a lot to say on discipline. We are to discipline/ train ourselves, and God also disciplines us as a loving Father. Some of the disciplines give life to us and refresh our souls from the start, others feel painful as we enter into them, but they all bear fruit of righteousness.

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. (Hebrews 12:8)

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:19)

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. (Proverbs 3:11-14)

I want to train myself for righteousness with even more dedication than a professional athlete training for their next event.

I recently enjoyed reading this article on What are the Spiritual Disciplines. It focuses on what can and cannot be a Biblical spiritual discipline, rather than prescribing a list. I also love that it reminds us that we are not under the Law; we live out these spiritual disciplines from a place of sonship, as children who want to spend time with our loving Father.

The Bible also teaches us that we are to train up each other, and those of us with children are to train them up, too. But how are we to train up others, if we first don’t train ourselves? We need to get experience in order to become teachers!

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. (Titus 2:7-8).

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, (Titus 2:3-4).

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6).

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

What training would the Lord have you grow your muscles in? What disciplines do you need to get back into? Are you trying to discipline your children, without disciplining yourself in the ways of God? Do you need accountability – such as a Bible study group to study the Word, or a walking partner with whom to pray and intercede? Ask God how you can draw closer to Him through discipline.

The fruit is worth the effort; train those muscles in the things of godliness!

Another blog

My husband, Glenn, and I both love inductive Bible study and tonight I’m writing purely to point you in the direction of his blog. It is well worth the time to read. My posts tend to look more at personal application of Scripture, whereas Glenn tends to focus more on application for the church as the body of Christ. He recently posted an in-depth study on why the tithe is obsolete (but giving and generosity aren’t).

Have a look at Glenn’s journey with Christ, the living Word

Respect dare series – day 35 – Do not deprive one another

1 Corinthians 7:1-5

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

I know I’ve addressed this, but after some recent discussions I felt it needs a second showing because it is just so important.

S.E.X.

It’s needed in marriage. It’s beyond important – it’s critical for a healthy marriage! And, no, once a week is not enough, or once a month, and especially not once a year! I was horrified to hear that women really don’t realise that men need it more frequently than this. Biologically, a married man, having sex regularly, will build up sperm needing to be released within 2-4 days. This is our challenge as wives – to meet the needs of our husbands in this area.

I love that the Bible talks about these things and so we need to talk about it, too. If you want a good starting point for how the differences of men and women can come together beautiful in marriage I recommend: “Laugh your way to a better marriage” with Mark Gungor. Glenn enjoyed it, which is saying something for a relationship seminar!

My action for today: (And the next week). Re-watch “Laugh your way to a better marriage” and follow Paul’s commands.

My prayer for today: Thank you, loving Father, for creating something as beautiful and intimate as sex. Thank you that we can enjoy it most in the intimacy and protection of a safe marriage. Help me to remember its importance and never deprive Glenn of it. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Regular sexual intimacy is vital for a healthy marriage – the Bible tells us so!

Ruth 2a; Gleaning in the fields

Welcome  back to our study in Ruth. Let’s remember as we go forward that these events took place in a very dark time of Israel’s history – the time of the Judges. The book of Ruth is a story of light in the midst of darkness.

So in chapter 1 we saw Naomi and her family spend 10 years in Moab during which time her husband and sons died. She then returned to Israel after the famine ended and one of her two daughters-in-law (Ruth) gave up everything she had – family, culture, friends – to follow Naomi. We realised that Naomi must have been walking as light in a dark world, because she had taught Ruth to turn away from the false gods of Moab to serve the True God. This should challenge us to remember Christ’s call in Matt 5 to be light in a dark world. Finally, we ended chapter 1 returning to Bethlehem, in Judah, and people of the town being stirred up by their arrival.

Be light in this dark world

Chapter 2

As we enter chapter 2, we again see the bravery and loyalty of Ruth in the face of poverty and starvation:

And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” (Ruth 2:2)*.

Ruth chose to put herself in danger to care and provide for her mother-in-law. Remember that Israel had gone away from the commands of God in the time of the Judges. This was not a safe time for a young woman to venture out alone amongst men working in the fields. This was not a safe time to be a young widow in Israel. But as widows they needed to get food for themselves so out Ruth went . . .

Immediately, however, we see a very different atmosphere in the field that Ruth “stumbled upon” than what we should expect in this time:

Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!” “The Lord bless you!” they answered. (Ruth 2:4)*.

God is watching over His servant, Ruth! Without knowing where she was going, she chose to glean in the field of a righteous man! Ruth must have thanked the Lord to find a field whose owner was righteous, and who made his men walk in righteousness!

The NIV said that Ruth was going to “pick up the leftover grain”. Other translations say she went to “glean” in the fields. What made her think that she could just go into a farmer’s field and take from their land? That wouldn’t make us too popular today if we tried – especially here in South Africa! I would be rather afraid to go onto a farmers’ property today and take from his crops! We would be seen as thieves and could rightfully be shot according to property law, or at least reported to the police. But gleaning in Israel was part of the Lord’s provision, as commanded in the Torah. It was how God provided for the poor and lowly – the orphan, the widow, the foreigner.

Boaz was faithful to the commands of the Lord. In a time of national unfaithfulness, we see Boaz keeping what the Lord commanded in regards to gleaning. The laws for reaping the harvest are found in a few places in the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Bible that lay out God’s law):

“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.  Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.’” (Leviticus 19:9-10)**

“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.’” (Leviticus 23:22)**

“‘When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.  When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow.  When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow.  Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.’” Deut 24:19-22**

The law prohibited reaping to the edge of the field

Ruth’s character

This chapter gives us some further insights into Ruth’s character. We see that she was:

  • Hard working: She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” (Ruth 2:7)
  • Humble: Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” (Ruth 2:10)
  • Well known for kindness: But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. (Ruth 2:11)
  • Servant of the Most High God: The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” (Ruth 2:12)

Boaz’s character

We see in Ruth 2:8-9 that Boaz was faithful to God’s covenant. He let Ruth glean his field as required of him by Law:

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women.Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you?” (Ruth 2:8-9a)

But Boaz didn’t stop at the letter of the Law. He went beyond what was required of him by the Law:

  • He commands her to stay with his women servants and not just through the barley harvest, but the wheat too – about 3 months! (Ruth 2:8,23)
  • He tells her to drink the water of his own people (Ruth 2:9b)
  • Later in the chapter he tells his workers not to tell her off if she goes amongst the unharvested crop – where she wasn’t meant to be (Ruth 2:15)
  • He also tells them to intentionally leave some extra grain on the ground for her – to ease her workload (Ruth 2:16)
  • And at mealtime he gives her food from his own hand! So much so that she has extra to take back to Naomi at the end of the day! (Ruth 2:14, 18)

Boaz was a man who knew God’s Law and had His heart! Boaz understood the heart behind God’s laws, unlike the Pharisees, who Christ condemned:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew 23:23) **

Boaz could have used the darkness of the times as an excuse, but instead he chose to go beyond what God asked of him. So the question for us is: Do you go beyond what is required of you? Do you have the heart of God’s commands? We have the choice today between sin and obedience.

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:14-18) **

Are you being obedient to Christ’s teachings? Are you a slave of righteousness?

 

Up next: Ruth 2b-3

**I normally quote Scripture from the ESV, so please note that Scriptures marked in this post with “** are quoted from the NIV: New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

All about you

It’s all about your, Jesus.

Glenn and I have started leading a home group together and, as inevitable with two teachers, we’ve formed the habit of giving a teaching each week. This week I felt that we needed to have communion together and so I naturally started studying what Scripture says about communion in order to prepare a teaching. But as I started, I felt a gentleness pause me.

Keep it simple . . . 

Keep it simple . . . 

Keep it simple . . . 

These words reverberated in my mind. The only thing is that, the more I studied, the more I saw could be brought into the teaching. There were so many trails leading off from right to left that I longed to explore – just what I love! Time limits get forgotten as the hunter comes out!

Keep it simple . . . 

Keep it simple . . . 

Keep it simple . . . 

Then, as I began looking down the trail of the new covenant that we have through Christ’s blood, this and every other trail suddenly hit a dead wall.

BANG!

I could go no further, I had to stop. Why? Because I suddenly saw what it was all about again.

JESUS!

It’s all about Jesus! “It’s all about your, Jesus.How often do we get distracted by church meetings, children’s sport, work deadlines, relationship difficulties, money short falls, . . . and leave Jesus forgotten?

Jesus is our hope. Jesus is our salvation. Jesus is our redemption and righteousness.

Jesus – Son of God, Brother, Friend, Teacher, Saviour, Lord, Creator, Life . . .

I really encourage you to focus upon Jesus again. I encourage you to set your hearts back on our beautiful Saviour.  A good place to start? Put on some worship music and bow before God, or read through the book of Hebrews. Hebrews is a wondrous book, which never fails to set my heart back on Christ. If you don’t have time to read through all of it (only takes ~ half an hour) then please read Hebrews 7-10 and take time to reflect on your beautiful Lord.

. . . but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, . . . (Hebrews 1:2-3)

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23)

Don’t miss the Mary moments

You may have noticed that my blogging is rather inconsistent. This is partly due to what I’m learning and when, partly to what level of creative inspiration I have to write and partly to the amount of time available to write. Recently I’ve been posting nearly weekly because God is teaching me, and reminding me of prior lessons, constantly (& breastfeeding provides plenty of sedentary time to sit at a computer). Welcome to parenthood, Shannon!

But then it changed. Then I got busy.

We’re about to move house as well as put ours up for rent. It feels like every waking moment is either spent preparing, or thinking about the preparations. Busy, busy, busy!

So busy that I stopped pausing to stare at my son. So busy that I fore went day time naps. So busy I couldn’t hear my Father’s voice. Lessons from God ended and I got tired and stressed. Then God whispered of forgotten times sitting at Christ’s feet in peaceful soul-bliss. I read Luke 10:38-42 and was reminded not to miss the Mary moments of life:

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 
But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

Life gets busy. Demands are placed on our time. Things have to get done. But don’t forego Mary moments for anything.

God knows your life. Prioritise intimacy with Him and you’ll find that the important tasks get completed whilst the unnecessary fillers in your life drop away.

Choose intimacy. Recognise and make time for the Mary moments.

Lesson to be applied now – I’m turning the computer off to stare at my little miracle as he sleeps in my arms. What a blessing God has given to me.

Turn off distractions. Forget the mess. Sit at His feet and listen.