Thursday, October 31, 2013

Jesse Tree Introduction

The Jesse Tree



This is a Bird's Eye View of The Scarlet Thread of Redemption from Genesis to Luke. Our family has been enjoying the Jesse Tree since December of 1997. The pictures I will be showing are very "well-loved" (worn) symbols, but I want to show them to you so you will have a model to create your own Jesse Tree!

Each day, I will have the Jesse Tree Scripture and activities for that day to do with the family, especially younger children. I will include portions of previous Bible Book Club posts for your own personal enrichment and devotion.


For many of the days, I have a link to an audio of me telling the story in a narrative way that might be enjoyable for you and or your children. 

Here is a download of just the Jesse Tree Scripture reading schedule and possible activities for your kids (without the adult devotional):

JESSE TREE (Please remember it is copyrighted)


INTRODUCTION

Through its symbols, the Jesse Tree tells the story of God’s plan of redemption through the Old and New Testaments. The symbols unveil the character of God and we understand more clearly Who we worship and wait for at this Advent time. Each day, the Scripture is read and a symbol is added to the tree. Suggestions are given for activities that might help in your enjoyment and understanding. Feel free to improvise and make the Jesse Tree personal for you. Be sure to start your tree on December 1st so that you will finish on schedule on the Lord Jesus’ Birthday!! When children are small, a Beginner’s Illustrated Bible is good, but there are no stories for Days 5, 13-19, and 21. When children get older, a Bible Story Book like the Egermeier’s is excellent. Eventually, you can read from a regular Bible. 

Here is a little more about the history of the Jesse tree:
In the old days, in the front of any family Bible, a record was kept of that family's history: the marriages, the children born of those marriages, the marriages and offspring of those children. Over the course of generations, those fading, spidery lines spread outwards like branches and twigs from a single trunk. That is why we call such a record a "family tree." 
Similarly, there would have been in any number of churches, a "Jesse tree" -- a depiction of Jesus' family tree in wood, or stone, or stained glass (see picture above). Church garments might even have been embroidered with a tree. 
Even thousands of years ago, when the stories of the Old Testament were first told, families were pictured as trees branching out from a single trunk.
"A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse, and from his roots a bud will blossom," said the prophet Isaiah in the Bible (Isaiah 11:1-5), foretelling the birth of Jesus. It is this verse which gave rise to the tradition of Jesse trees in churches. 
Jesse trees were the Bible-storybooks of unlettered people. A priest could point to the figures or symbols, and tell the stories of those Old Testament kings, prophets, heroines, warriors. And the tree itself served to show how the New Testament grew out of the Old Testament; how, for Christians, the birth of Jesus was not just a beginning, but a completion. He was the flowering of a tree planted long before, by God's own design. By tracing his earthly ancestry back to King David and beyond, it was easy, too, to see Jesus as a real historical figure.  
A Jesse Tree my friend made with painted metal ornaments

 That forest of ancient Jesse trees fashioned in the Middle Ages is long gone. Puritan vandals of the seventeenth century, in their attempt to destroy "graven images," smashed the heads from saints, the wings from angels, the figures from Jesse trees. No tree survives undamaged. 
But in recent times, a new tradition has grown up -- a new strain of Jesse tree "grown" at home. Still planted for the sake of its stories, symbols are added day by day during the season of Advent, and day by day the old stories are retold, culminating in the stories of the first Christmas. 
("Introduction," The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean)




Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Put Revelation Back on the Bottom Shelf

Congratulations! 
You have completed the whole Bible!!!

BibleBookcase

Revelation 22 - Come, Lord Jesus, Come

LINK: Revelation 22 


BACKGROUND


The New Jerusalem


This chapter continues with a description of the New Jerusalem.  In this city, there will be a river of the water of life that flows from the throne of God and the Lamb down the middle of the street in the city. The river of life flows and nourishes the tree of life. Remember that the tree of life is referred to in Genesis 3:22, 24, and it is promised, in Revelation 2:7, that the overcomers would "eat from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God."  The tree will bear leaves for the "healing of the nations." The Greek word for "healing," therapeian, can also mean "health-giving." So wonderful that the Bible begins and ends with the tree of life. 


In this new place, there is no longer a curse (Zechariah 14:11).  The saints will serve God and see His face (1 John 3:2), and His name will be on their foreheads (contrast this with the mark of the beast on the forehead). God's presence will also be their light. 


Closing Words


Revelation 22:7 contains the theme of Revelation: "Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book" (1:7; 22:12, 20). We are not to add to it or take away from it, just keep it (22:18-19). This is the sixth of seven blessings in the book of Revelation:

1:3 - Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

14:13 - And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”

16:15 - (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”)

19:9 - Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ ” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”

20:6 - Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

22:14 - Blessed are those who wash their robes (do His commandments), so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.

We are blessed and rewarded if we continue to walk in the ways of God (2 Corinthians 5:10-11) and judgment will come for those who practice sin.

The book of Revelation ends with a beautiful description of Jesus. He describes Himself as the Alpha and the Omega (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet), the First and the Last, and the Beginning and the End because He is eternal (22:13. See also 1:4, 8, 17; 2:8; 21:6). He also describes Himself as the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star. Christ comes from David (Isaiah 11:1-5; Matthew 1:1-17), and He is coming again to bring a new day to the earth! He is the light of salvation to the entire world (Matthew 4:16; Isaiah 9:2).

All are invited by the Holy Spirit and the Bride (the church) to "Come! Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life."  Jesus supplies that living water (John 4:10-15). He invites you to come.

Amen. Come Lord, Jesus.

REFLECTION


It is hard to believe as I type this that we have finished this crazy journey that God first put on my heart in August 2004 and told me to start on Christmas Day of 2007. I had just lost my mother 18 days before, and, little did I know, I would also lose my brother, father-in-law, cousin, and a few friends between then and now.  In addition, I severed my tendon, blew out my back so badly I had to type my posts from a horizontal position, and transitioned both my kids from full-time homeschool to full-time college. On top of all that, my husband has been through four job changes! 


It has been a wild time, but reading, studying, meditating, and reflecting on God's Word day in and day out in the midst of the craziness of life has been what has grounded me. God has been the sane voice in an insane world. I can do nothing but say: HALLELUJAH!



I have never once regretted the decision to, basically, blog my Bible reading times rather than writing in a private journal. It has sharpened me. Even though it has been time consuming, I have never wanted to quit, and God always gave me the time to do it. We make time for what we are passionate about, and I am passionate about others reading and studying God's Word so that they might have an intimate knowledge of God through Jesus!  I pray you have grown and taken steps toward deeper intimacy with Him through this journey. I sure have!


I thank all of you who have taken this commitment on, even if it is has not been for the whole journey. Baby steps are still steps!  Thank you for your encouraging notes, emails, and face-to-face boosts too! Since this blog started on Christmas Day 2007 and as of May 27, 2015, it has had over 230,000 views (and counting) from people all over the world. This does not count the visits from friends on Facebook or the posts that are cut and pasted and sent to people in countries who block Blogger and Facebook. I pray you have all been blessed as you have read and studied God's Word, and it will bear fruit in your lives into eternity!  


I also want to give a special thanks to Katrina and Becky who wrote many posts during the first cycle of the Bible Book Club (2007-2010) so that I would not have to do this seven days a week. It was a big relief when they stepped up and volunteered. I really appreciate their commitment to the Word of God and to seeing it read and studied. Becky is now busy leading a women's study at her church in Louisiana and Katrina just finished up a nursing degree after having married off two of her oldest children and had her first grandchild. 


I also want to thank people who posted when I went on trips, especially my three week trip to Southeast Asia in 2008: Rachel B., Susanne B., Ellen Peters (Laura), and Cathi Von.  You all did GREAT jobs! Thank you!

In this second cycle of the BBC, I have written all the posts that were written by others in the first cycle and that totaled 379 posts.


(In the third cycle of the BBC, I edited and transferred all the posts into a word processor.) 



I have had butterflies in my stomach all day. Part of it was fear because I was writing on the final chapters of Revelation and part of it was the joy of anticipation because I was done with a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) that I set many years ago.

I want to go out and celebrate and do a big praise dance. Maybe I will. :) (When I completed the first cycle it was 2:37 am, and I couldn't go out and dance then!) 


2015 Update: I am done editing all the posts, and I am sure there will be many more revisions in the future. One added stress producer that has come since I posted this last time was melanoma skin cancer (a disease that killed one of the friends I mentioned above). As I thought about my own mortality, I evaluated my priorities, and I knew that making the Bible Book Club a priority was a good use of my time here on earth. The melanoma ended up being Stage 0 and was removed, but I am thankful I did have an opportunity to evaluate my life. Sowing the Word of God in my heart and in the hearts of others is what I want to do to the end of my days! 



APPLICATION

CONGRATULATIONS! You deserve a big CYBER HUG! YOU DID IT! 


This completes our study of The Sc
arlet Thread of Redemption that points to Jesus. Told ya' so! I hope you are doubly convinced of it now that You have read His Word! 


It is fun because we just started going through The Scarlet Thread of Redemption with a group of 11 people for the next eight months. We just finished Genesis 3 last Sunday. How great to book end my week with Genesis 3:15 on one end and Revelation 22 on the other! 


Tomorrow, take some time to reflect upon your journey with God through the pages of His Word. Let Him speak to You. He really does speak. We just need to listen.


And if you want to do some fun review, and make a Christmas project that will teach The Scarlet Thread of Redemption to your whole family, come joins me on November 1st when we make a Jesse Tree and review the BBC! 


Also, if you want a fun December devotional, I have written Messiah Meditations (not just the words to the oratorio like I have done in the past but actual devotionals to go along with the words) that take you through The Scarlet Thread of Redemption and Handel's Messiah! I have hyperlinked the downloadable Word document above, and here is the online version: Messiah Online


Well, this story definitely has a happy ending. God wins! I pray you will always stay on His team!



PRAYER


Lord, my heart overflows with a good theme, and my tongue is the pen of a ready writer (Psalm 45:1) who wants to sing praises to You all the days of my life. Lord, be lifted up in our praises. Thank You for giving us the message of The Scarlet Thread of Redemption beginning in Genesis 3:15 all the way to Revelation 22.  We eagerly await Your coming again. In the meantime, help us to tell people from every nation, people, tongue, and tribe about Your limitless love and grace. Amen. Come Lord Jesus, Come. 


I'm pretty sure this song by Kutless is inspired by Revelation 22. I am a crying and worshiping and praising and dancing with God right now as I listen to it. :) Enjoy!




Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Revelation 21:9-27 - The New City

LINK: Revelation 21 

BACKGROUND 


The church is the bride, but Holy Jerusalem is also the bride, the wife of the Lamb. It is brilliant with a 216 foot wall that will have twelve gates each of a single pearl. (This is where we get the expression "enter by the pearly gates.") Each gate will have the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. The foundation stones of the wall of the city will have the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb (Ephesians 2:20). The Old Testament and the New Testament come together in the New Jerusalem. All God's believing people will be in the city, a better heavenly country (Hebrews 11:16; 39-40). 


In addition, the dimensions in the ancient measurements are all multiples of 12. In modern day measurements, the city will be 1,500 square miles! It will be made of gold and jewels. 


There is no temple because God is already dwelling among his people all the time. There is no need for light since He is the light, Jesus is the lamp, and there is no longer any night (Isaiah 60:19). 


The inhabitants of the city will only be those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life (3:5; 20:12-15). They will be those from every nation, but they will be one bride. Even kings, who once only wanted glory for themselves, will give it all to Him. Citizenship there is only because of what the Lamb has done to take away sin making the people pure and undefiled.


REFLECTION 


WOW! What a day it has been. I got up at 4 this morning to write these last few posts, and it is now 6 p.m. It is nice to end with this beautiful picture of the New Jerusalem after all those judgments! 


I am so excited to meet Him face to face!


APPLICATION 


If you have not done so, try the application I suggested yesterday.


PRAYER


Lord, it is not because of anything we have done but because of the Lamb and His sacrifice. I can only thank You and give You my whole life in sacrifice. I give it because of Jesus. Amen!



Monday, October 28, 2013

Revelation 21:1-8 - Everything New and Overcomers

LINK: Revelation 21:1-14 

BACKGROUND




"Behold, I am making all things new . . . It is done!" (Revelation 21:5-6). He will create a new earth (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; Matthew 19:28; Romans 8:18-21; 2 Peter 3:7-13). There will be a new arrangement of the water. We do not know exactly what it will look like, but the most important thing is that God is moving into the neighborhood and there will be no more sadness or pain or death or mourning (21:4)! Doesn't that thrill you? 

We who overcome have this to look forward to, but for those who do not overcome, there is the second death (See Revelation 20:6).


Here is a summary of all that we have learned about "overcomers" from the book of Revelation:


1) Eat from the tree of life (2:7)

2) Escape the lake of fire or second death (2:11)
3) Receive a special name (2:17)
4) Have authority over the nations (2:26)
5) Included in the book of life (3:5)
6) Are a pillar in God's spiritual temple (3:12)
7) Sit with Christ on His throne (3:21)

REFLECTION


Let's review what I have already written about "overcome/overcomers" (a key word in the book) in previous posts:

If we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, we already have the victory (nike) to overcome (1 John 5:4; Revelations 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; 21:7) the world because we have the divine nature of God living inside of us (2 Peter 1:4)!
This Greek word for victory is nike (pronounced NEE-kay, not the way we pronounce the sports brand). Nike was the Greek goddess of victory. Jesus is the GOD of victory! We do not do this by faith in ourselves but faith in Christ who overcame the world (John 16:33)!
The overcomers are those who "hold fast their faith even unto death against the power of their foes, and temptations and persecutions" (Enhanced Strong's Lexicon, G3528, Revelation 2)
All true believers are overcomers (1 John 5:4-5). Let's stand firm to the end (Mark 13:13)!

APPLICATION 

We are only going through the first part of Revelation 21 today, but before you finish. Please try the LOYOLA METHOD of meditation as you read through the whole chapter. It is really fun!


PRAYER

Lord, I cannot wait to live with You in the new heaven and new earth!!! Amen. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Revelation 20 - Doom of Devil and Great White Throne of Judgment

LINK: Revelation 20

BACKGROUND 


The 1,000 years are often referred to as the Millennium, which is Latin for 1,000. There are different views about how and when this takes place. I will briefly describe the three major views:


1) Postmillennialism 


Christ comes after the 1,000-year period.There is a literal 1,000-year period of peace ushered in by the church. At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be released, Christ will return to defeat Satan, and then Christ will reign forever. 


2) Premillennialism

Christ comes before the 1,000 year period. There is a literal 1,000-year period ushered in after the return of Christ where He will reign on earth while Satan is bound and before Satan's final defeat.


3) Amillennialism


Amillennial literally means "no millennium." 
The 1,000-year period is symbolic of the time between Christ's ascension and His return. 1,000 years symbolically means "ultimate perfection." The Millennium is the reign of Christ in the hearts of believers on earth and in heaven and another way of referring to the "church age." It ends at the return of Christ. Augustine supported this view.


Many passages say that Christ's Second Coming is followed by a reign of righteousness on earth: Psalms 2; 24; 72; 96; Isaiah 2; 9:6-7; 63:1-6; 65-66; Jeremiah 23:5-6; 30:8-11; Daniel 2:44; 7:13-14; Hosea 3:4-5; Amos 9:11-15; Micah 4:1-8; Zephaniah 3:14-20; Zechariah 8:1-8; 14:1-9; Matthew 19:28; 25:31-46; Acts 15:16-18; Romans 11:25-27; Jude 14-15; Revelation 2:25-28; 19:11-20:6. It depends on whether you think these are talking about Christ's 1,000 years reign or not.


Satan Bound (20:1-6)

If you are looking at the chapter from a literal perspective, Satan is bound for 1,000 years in the abyss (Revelation 9:1-2). During this time, he cannot deceive. 


There were those seated on thrones judging. This could be the disciples because Jesus predicted that they would "eat and drink at My table in My kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:29-30). The saints could also be included in this (Daniel 7:22; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 5:10).


Many commentators believe that "the souls of those beheaded" (literally, "smitten with an axe") are those from 6:9-11; the Tribulation martyrs will be raised from the dead and given thrones and rewards.


Also, "The church will share in this reign, as symbolized by the twenty-four elders (Revelation 5:10; 2:26-28; 3:12, 21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)" (The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, Re 20:5:1, p. 619).  2 Timothy 2:12 says, "If we endure, we will reign with Him."  Some even believe that the Old Testament saints will also be part of the first resurrection (Isaiah 26:19-21; Ezekiel 37:12-14; Daniel 12:1-4). Also, Israel will enjoy all the blessings that the prophets foretold (Isaiah 2:1-5; 4:1-6; 11:1-9; 12:1-6; 30:18-26; 35:1-10).  Others believe that it is just the Tribulation martyrs and the rest of the dead will be resurrected in the first resurrection after the Millennium.

Christians hold two basic views concerning this first resurrection, (1) Some believe that the first resurrection is spiritual (in our hearts at salvation), and the Millennium is our spiritual reign with Christ between his first and second comings. During this time, we are priests of God because Christ reigns in our hearts. In this view the second resurrection is the bodily resurrection of all people for judgment. (2) Others believe that the first resurrection occurs after Satan has been set aside. It is a physical resurrection of believers who then reign with Christ on the earth for a literal 1,000 years. The second resurrection occurs at the end of this Millennium in order to judge unbelievers who have died.
(Life Application Study Bible, Revelation 20:5, 6, p. 2330) 
Those unbelievers who have died then face a second spiritual death where they are eternally separated from God (John 5:28-29; Revelation 21:8; Daniel 12:2).

Satan Freed and Quickly Doomed

Jesus said that people of other nations will also come to submit to Him (Matthew 25:31-40; 8:11), but not all will truly submit because when Satan is released after 1,000 years, he will make a last ditch effort to revolt and he will gather an army from those people he has deceived (20:8)! Gog and Magog are merely symbolic for all nations of the world and are different from the battle in Ezekiel 38-39. It is similar to how "Waterloo" has come to mean any "great disaster" rather than the literal defeat of Napoleon there. 

The armies surround Jerusalem, but fire from heaven devours them and Satan is thrown into the lake of fire where he and his cronies will be tormented day and night FOREVER in final judgment!!! YAY! 


Judgment at the Great White Throne


This is throne is not located in heaven or on earth. It is probably Christ who sits on the throne because the Father has given all judgment to Jesus Christ (Matthew 19:28; John 5:22-30; Acts 17:31). Most evangelical millennialists believe this is only the unsaved who are raised in this second resurrection and must face God's judgment. Death gives up the bodies and hades (the realm of the spirits of the dead) give up the spirits. The great white throne and the judgment (bema) seat of Christ (where believers are judged and rewarded for their works, 2 Corinthians 5:9-11) in this view are two separate things since the righteous dead have already been raised, including saints from the Old Testament and the dead from the Great Tribulation. In this view, the great white throne is only for the wicked dead, and they are cast into the lake of fire because their names were not written in the book of life. 


Other views hold there is only one judgment for everyone. Jesus will sort the saved (sheep) from the damned (goats) as described in Matthew 25:31-46.


REFLECTION 


Whew! That background was tough to write. It is hard to say, "This is exactly what it means." And I hope and pray I have not made a hot mess of Revelation 20 for you by giving you the different views!


One thing is for DOUBLE sure, Jesus will unite us all! Whatever your position, what is most important is that Christ will come again, Satan will be defeated forever, and Christ will reign! When Christ unites us, we will not even be thinking about whether our view was right or not. We will be too busy worshiping Him, right?


APPLICATION 


I do not want to gloat that my name is written in the book of life. I want to get out and tell people about Him so they will have the opportunity to know Him before it is too late.  How about you?  Who can you share with today?


PRAYER


Lord, thank You that You know the end from the beginning. Satan's doom is sure. YAY! But we are sad about the countless millions who have not heard. Please lead us to those who need to hear the Good News of eternal rest and salvation in Jesus Christ! Amen. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Revelation 19:11-21 -- King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

LINK: Revelation 19 


BACKGROUND


In His first coming, Jesus came as a Lamb sacrifice to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29); but when He comes a second time, He will come as a Conqueror and King of kings and will execute judgment (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).  Jesus is described in many ways in this chapter. Two of them include the Word of God (John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1) and King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15). While the whole world has been worshiping the beast and the Antichrist, this is a definitive statement about Who is in charge! His robe is dipped in blood (see Isaiah 63:2-3; Revelation 14:20). He comes with His heavenly army and "treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty." The earthly army is no match for God, and they are destroyed (rather gruesomely, I might add). The beast and the false prophet are captured and thrown into the lake of fire. YIPPEE!

Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. (19:6)


REFLECTION/APPLICATION


Now would be an excellent time to review some prophecy about the Second Coming of Christ:


Psalm 2:1-9; 24:7-10; 96:10-13; 110
Isaiah 9:6-7
Jeremiah 23:1-9
Ezekiel 37:15-28
Daniel 2:44-45; 7:13-14
Hosea 3:4-5
Amos 9:11-15
Micah 4:7
Zechariah 2:10-12; 12; 14:1-9


Matthew 19:28; 24:27-31; 25:6, 31-46
Mark 13:24-27
Luke 12:35-40; 17:24-37; 18:8; 21:25-28
Acts 1:10-11; 15:16-18
Romans 11:25-27
2 Thessalonians 2:8
2 Peter 3:3-4
Jude 14-15
Revelation 1:7-8; 2:25-28; 16:15; 22:20

Are you ready for His Second Coming?


PRAYER


Lord, reign as King of kings and Lord of lords in my heart. Amen. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Revelation 19:1-10 -- Hallelujahs and the Wedding Feast

LINK: Revelation 19


BACKGROUND


Hallelujah only occurs four times in the New Testament, and they are all in this chapter. 


Babylon, who led the world astray, has fallen, and there is great rejoicing in heaven. God has judged His enemies, and He avenged for the harlot martyring God's bond-servants (17:6).  Now He is exalted! The literal translation of 19:6 is:


"The Lord God omnipotent has begun to reign" 


This does not mean He has not been in control, but He has permitted evil on the earth, but it is time for "His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). The bride has made herself ready for the marriage feast of the Lamb, JESUS! The church is the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; 5:22-33). The bride is dressed in the righteous acts of the saints. Fine linen was worn by the high priest in the Old Testament (Exodus 28:42; Leviticus 6:10; 16:4, 23, 32). 


There is much speculation about when and where this marriage feast will take place but our preparation as the bride is much more important than that.

I love what The Daily Walk says about this marriage:

The Bible begins with a marriage (Genesis 2:8, 21-25) and also ends with a marriage -- the marriage feast of the Lamb -- (Revelation 19:9). Christ's first public miracle took place at a marriage (John 2). And for the Christian, marriage is a sacred picture of the world of Christ's love for His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:25-33). 
(December 2008, p.35)


REFLECTION


In October of 1989, my husband told me that he loved me outside my cabin at Harlow Lodge in Eugene, Oregon during a fall church retreat. What a thrill. Four months later, I was engaged and busily preparing to be George's bride. There were some trials that went into becoming his bride, but it was all worth it when I walked down the aisle at 2:00 pm on July 21, 1990 and saw the beaming face of my handsome bridegroom. Hallelujah!!!!  The wedding feast was a joyous celebration of our union.


We have another wedding to look forward to, and your Bridegroom is waiting for you at the end of the aisle. Are you busy in preparation to meet Him and become one? 

APPLICATION


What goes into preparing yourself to be the Bride of Christ?  


Spend some time worshiping God today. Hallelujah! You might even like to listen to some more of Handel's Messiah and do not miss the Messiah Meditation in December to review the Scarlet Thread of Redemption!


PRAYER


Lord, You are all-powerful and You reign over all the earth. We worship You for who You are in all Your beauty. We want to be a beautiful bride as we face the Bridegroom. Lead us into a life that is beautiful for You. Amen. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Revelation 18: Babylon the Great Has Fallen

LINK: Revelation 18 


BACKGROUND


Remember that Babylon has always been a symbol of mankind's rebellion against God. In this chapter, it represents the world system of the beast with special emphasis upon the political and economic. The world mourned because they followed her politically and benefited from her financially, but Babylon would be utterly destroyed. The Old Testament made it clear that the city would fall and not be rebuilt (Isaiah 13:19-22; Jeremiah 51:24-26, 61-64). The physical Babylon was never rebuilt (Although Saddam Hussein tried. See below.). The destruction of this city is the final blow to the "time of the Gentiles" which began at the fall of Jerusalem in 605 B.C. (Luke 21:24).


The stage is now set for the second coming of Christ (Acts 1:11)! Stay tuned!!!


REFLECTION
In 1983, Saddam Hussein started rebuilding the city on top of the old ruins (because of this, artifacts and other finds may well be under the city by now), investing in both restoration and new construction. He inscribed his name on many of the bricks in imitation of Nebuchadnezzar. One frequent inscription reads: "This was built by Saddam Hussein, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq". This recalls the ziggurat at Ur, where each individual brick was stamped with "Ur-Nammu, king of Ur, who built the temple of Nanna". These bricks became sought after as collectors' items after the downfall of Hussein, and the ruins are no longer being restored to their original state. He also installed a huge portrait of himself and Nebuchadnezzar at the entrance to the ruins, and shored up Processional Way, a large boulevard of ancient stones, and the Lion of Babylon, a black rock sculpture about 2,600 years old. When the Gulf War ended, Saddam wanted to build a modern palace, also over some old ruins; it was made in the pyramidal style of a Sumerian ziggurat. He named it Saddam Hill. In 2003, he was ready to begin the construction of a cable car line over Babylon when the invasion began and halted the project. An article published in April 2006 states that UN officials and Iraqi leaders have plans for restoring Babylon, making it into a cultural center.[37][38]As of May 2009, the provincial government of Babil has reopened the site to tourism. 
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylon)

APPLICATION

How Can A Person Keep Away From the Evil System? 
Here are some suggestions: 
1. People must always be more important than products. 
2. Keep away from pride in your own programs, plans, and successes. 
3. Remember that God's will and Word must never be compromised. 
4. People must always be considered above the making of money. 
5. Do what is right, no matter what the cost. 
6. Be involved in businesses that provide worthwhile products or services -- not just things that feed the world's desires. 
(The Life Application Bible, p. 2327)
PRAYER


Lord, keep us from the deception of the world and help us to cling only to You and to long for the glorious day of Christ's Second Coming! Amen. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Revelation 17 -- The Harlot, Beast, and Kings

LINK: Revelation 17

BACKGROUND 

The Final Judgment of Spiritual Babylon

The angel gives a full explanation of all the symbols in this chapter in 17:7-18.


Babylon, the Harlot - The woman is identified with a prosperous, powerful, and idolatrous city that pollutes the nations with filth and persecutes God's people. We heard a lot about the city of Babylon in the first two years of the Bible Book Club; but for those of you who have just joined us for the New Testament, we will review!  


Babylon was founded by Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-11). Bab-el means "the gate of God." They attempted to build the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) which was an attempt to reach heaven and make a name for themselves. When God sent judgment by confusing their languages, this word came to mean "confusion."  Babylon became a great empire. Hammurabi (1728-1686 B.C.) and Nebuchadnezzar from the book of Daniel (605-562 B.C.) are two of its more famous rulers.  The final fall of the Southern Kingdom of Judah to Babylon occurred in 586 B.C. Babylon later fell to the Medo-Persians in 539 B.C. Babylon was always "anti-God" throughout history and trouble for the people of God.  It is believed that Babylon gave birth to all false religions. Some commentators believe this represents the early Roman empire with its many gods and persecution of followers of Jesus. Others believe it symbolic of all religious systems that are "anti-God." 


Seven Mountains - Ancient writers believed this symbolized Rome with its seven hills along the Tiber River. More recent commentators think it refers to rulers rather than mountains because 17:19-10 literally means, "the seven heads are seven kings."  In John's time, five prominent kings of the Roman empire had already reigned, and Domitian was currently on the throne. This left one more after John's lifetime. The eighth king is the world ruler who would head up the final world empire and be destroyed at Christ's second coming.


Ten (horns) Kings - It is thought they will be heads of countries who make an alliance with the Middle East that will support the world ruler.  They will only have power for a brief time and will support the beast (17:13). They will wage war with Christ who is Lord of lords and King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16). 


Beast - Since it came from the abyss, which is the home of Satan and place from which demons come (11:7; 9:1-2,11), Satan controls this beast which is thought to be a world ruler.


Waters (17:15) - the waters where the harlot sits are the peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages.


In the end, the harlot will be destroyed by the world ruler (beast) and the ten kings (horns). When this ruler takes power he will demand that everyone worship him or be killed (Daniel 11:36-38; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:8, 15). This world ruler is Satan's substitute for Christ. 

Here is the amazing thing: "God has put it into their hearts to accomplish His purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God's words are fulfilled" (17:17).  These evil leaders will be brought to judgment in God's timing and plan.


No REFLECTION or APPLICATION because this post exhausted me!


PRAYER


Lord, I thank You that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Amen. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Revelation 16 - Bowls of Divine Wrath

LINK: Revelation 16 

BACKGROUND


The last seven angels come forth with seven bowls of God's wrath which involve plagues of malignant sores, blood in the sea, blood in the rivers and springs, scorching fire from the sun for men who did not repent and give God glory, darkness thrown on the beast's throne and sores for the people who still refused to repent (amazing!), and drying up of the Euphrates. After the seventh angel poured the seventh bowl, a loud voice proclaimed: "It is done." Followed by lighting, thunder, the greatest earthquake ever recorded, and hail. See if you might find some more parallels with the plagues of Egypt in Exodus 7:14-11:10 (see also Deuteronomy 28:27, 35).



http://ancientroadpublications.com/Photos/EuphratesRiver.html
permission granted for non-commercial use
The sixth bowl judgment that dries up the Euphrates to prepare the way for the kings of the East deserves further exploration. The Euphrates River was a natural protective boundary for the Holy Land against the empires to the east (Babylon, Assyria, Persia). Drying it up would remove that protection. Apparently, there are numerous dams on the river today. At times, it has little or no water already.

In a survey of 100 commentaries about Revelation, there are 50 interpretations of who the "kings of the East" might be (Bible Knowledge Commentary:Volume 2, p. 968).  Later, it says the "kings of the whole world" (16:14), but some commentators believe these are two different sets of kings. We do not know and can only speculate (something theologians love to do).


Remember the four wicked angels that were unbound from the Euphrates and the 200,000,000 troops in 9:14-16? These troops will accompany the kings of the whole world at Armageddon. The three spirits of demons who come out of the mouths of the unholy trinity (dragon, beast, and false prophet) will unite with the rulers of the world to battle against God at Armageddon. This is a prelude to Jesus coming! Be ready (16:15)!


Armageddon literally means, "hill or town of Megiddo." Megiddo means "place of crowds." Megiddo comes from a root, gadad, which means "slaughter." Other names for it are the Plain of Esdraelon and Valley of Jezreel. It is fourteen miles wide and twenty miles long, located southeast of the modern port of Haifa, 6 miles (10 km) from Mount Carmel and 11 miles (18 km) from Nazareth. It is the same plain where Barak defeated the armies of Canaan (Judges 5:19), Gideon met the Midianites (Judge 7), and where King Saul (1 Samuel 31) and Josiah (2 Kings 23:29) died. It was a natural corridor in ancient times for the Roman army and for the Crusaders of the Middle Ages.  The battle fulfills God's will (Revelation 17:17; Zechariah 12 and 14). What is very interesting is that there is no mount at Megiddo:

But there was no Mount Megiddo nor any mountain near Megiddo. "Harmagedon," or "mountain of Megiddo," therefore, is a contradiction. It is as if we said today that a great battle would take place at "Death Valley Mountain." The strange name may have been chosen deliberately to signal that the place was imaginary, not real, and that the great final "battle" would not be an actual battle at all. In any case, no battle is described in connection with the pouring out of the sixth bowl. Troops are assembled, but nothing happens. 
(Revelation, IVP New Testament Commentary) 
The seventh bowl judgment results in the complete collapse of the great city, Babylon which is described in greater detail in Revelation 17.

APPLICATION


God's wrath is so hard to swallow. If you are having a hard time with the destruction, please have a frank conversation with God about it right now!


PRAYER


Lord, I am without words when I look at what the end of time will bring. You are a holy God. It saddens me that man refuses to repent, yet we see it everyday in the world around us. Lord, You desire that none perish. Use us in spreading the Good News before the time runs out. Amen. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Revelation 15 - All the Nations Will Come and Worship Before You

LINK: Revelation 15

BACKGROUND 


John has seen the "great sign" of the woman (12:1), the "sign" of the "great" red dragon (12:3). Now he sees the "great and marvelous" sign of the seven angels with seven plagues (also called the seven bowl judgments) in which God's wrath will be complete (15:1). These plagues (and the third woe) do not really begin until Revelation 16. 


In the interim, there is this wonderful scene in heaven with a sea of glass (4:6) mixed with fire (representing wrath and judgment) and the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34, 35) filled with the smoke of the glory of God and from His power. Those "victorious over the beast" were those who refused the mark ("the number of his name"). They "overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death" (12:11 - one of my favorite verses!).  


The "song of Moses" and "song of the Lamb" tie the Old Testament and New Testament together! You might recall that the "Song of Moses" was a song of praise when God delivered the Israelites from bondage to the Egyptian pharaoh after they crossed the sea on dry land (Exodus 15). The "song of the Lamb" is a song of praise for the ultimate deliverance from Satan's power (also sung by the sea)! 


This song and the tying together of the Old and New Testament is punctuated by a quote from Psalm 86:9, "All nations (ethne) will come and worship before you." Remember that this is what I have been saying from the beginning of the Bible Book Club, God has intended for ALL PEOPLES GROUPS to worship Him. 


REFLECTION


I honestly have had chills running up and down my spine as I have meditated on Revelation 15 for two days. So beautiful. So worshipful to God.  I pray You can see the beauty of this chapter too.


APPLICATION in PRAYER


Take time to pray through the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb today:



Great and marvelous are Your works, 
O Lord God, the Almighty; 
Righteous and true are Your ways, 
King of the nations! 
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? 
For You alone are holy;
For all the nations will come and worship before You
For Your righteous acts have been revealed.
(Revelation 15:3-4)
AMEN!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Revelation 14 - Voices of the Angels

LINK: Revelation 14 

BACKGROUND


One of the key words for Revelation 14-16 is "voice." It occurs eleven times. God is speaking to His people and to the lost world. Mark this key word. 


The Lamb and 144,000


The 144,000, who are protected by the mark on their forehead, are on Mount Zion with Jesus. Contrast this group marked by God versus the followers of the Beast who have his mark on their forehead (Revelation 13:16). There is debate about whether it is the earthly Mount Zion or the heavenly one described in Hebrews 12:22-24 and where Christ is enthroned today (Psalms 2:6).


The 144,000 are singing a new song before God's throne, the living creatures, and 24 elders (See the Revelation 7 post if you forgot the details about them), but only the 144,000 knew the song. They are pure ("not soiled with fornication and adultery") as opposed to defiled by the world like the people in Revelation 13. This might refer to spiritual purity that is often symbolized by virginity in the Old Testament (2 Kings 19:21; Isaiah 37:22; Jeremiah 18:13; 31:4, 21; Lamentations 2:13; Amos 5:2). They have not fallen to the pagan world system and have kept true to Christ (John 17:14-19; Philippians 3:17-21). 


Also, they are called the "firstfruits" which means "persons consecrated to God for all time" (Enhanced Strong's Lexicon, G536). See Leviticus 23:9-14; Hebrews 12:23; and James 1:18. It could be they are "firstfruits" because they are those converted Israelites who will precede others who will embrace Christ at His return (Zechariah 12:10; Romans 11:15, 26-27). They were also "blameless" like the spotless sacrificial animals in Old Testament times. 


Judgment and Harvest


The first three angels announce that judgment is coming and God's wrath will be poured out, so the unfaithful better fear and honor God rather than the Beast! Babylon was often a veiled reference to Rome (and, by extension, all ungodly world powers). Babylon would fall. 


In between the angel judgments on the wicked is a bright and beautiful contrast:  blessings and eternal rest for the faithful (1 Thessalonians 1:3-12)! Some commentators believe this is just for the faithful who are martyred in the Great Tribulation.


John saw one "like a son of man" coming on a white cloud with a crown on His head. This is undoubtedly Jesus (Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 1:13). Another angel calls out to Jesus to reap the ripe harvest with the sickle in His hand, separating the faithful from the unfaithful. After this another angel with a sickle is commanded by an angel near the fire to harvest the grapes that are ripe. The harvested grapes are thrown into the "winepress of God's wrath" (Isaiah 63:3-6; Lamentations 1:16; Joel 3:12,13). Instead of grape juice resulting from trampling of the grapes, blood flows as high as the horses' bridle for 200 miles (about the north-south length of Palestine).  


No REFLECTION or APPLICATION today


PRAYER


Lord, Your judgment is righteous but hard to take. Please use us in drawing more people to Yourself so that they can escape Your terrible judgment. Thank You that we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise and have an inheritance with You. Amen.