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Good Thursday morning. It is 70 degrees in Hawaii. Wishing I was there!
Revelation 14:6-7 “The Summons”
6 “Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
The first angel came with a summons to all humans to worship God.
In Matthew chapter 24, the disciples asked Jesus what the sign will be for the end of the age. Jesus answers them with a lot of language that we have been reading in the Revelation.
14 “And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.”
The earth is given a final opportunity to accept or to reject Jesus Christ. There is no more time for action, or showing you are a Christian. The time will come when it’s yes or no.
The eternal Gospel means that the Gospel stands even in the midst of the world crashing around it. In Romans 16:25, Paul writes of Jesus Christ as the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began. The Gospel, or good news, is the eternal purpose of God, that all will know Jesus Christ.
In verse 7, the angel calls upon everyone to worship God. Everyone must remember their creator. Barclay writes, “Religion must start from the world in order to realize that there is a Maker of the world. It is only when man realizes that he is a creature in the presence of his Creator that there comes to him the sense of sin and the awareness of the need of a Savior.”
Blessings on your day,
Good Tuesday morning. Our staff is busy creating devotional bags for Lent. You will be invited to pick them up on Saturday from 4-6, Sunday, or during the next week. We will have a Feb. Spire ready by then also that will introduce our new council members.
Revelation 14: 2-5
“And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who have been redeemed from the earth. 4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; these follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been redeemed from humankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless.”
A description of the voice of God! Beautiful language. Especially because I love water. The sound of many waters could be quiet like a slow moving stream or crashing like the waves of Hawaii. Thunder! God, “Have I got your attention?” Harps: beautiful, melodic, the power of music to soothe and calm a troubled soul.
They are singing a new song based on their experiences. They had suffered and endured. It brings to my mind, African American Spirituals. Sorrow can produce bitterness, or it can produce faith, peace, and a new song. In the company of the lamb, they have made progress in their faith. (Many Christians are not interested in growth, they believe everything they have been taught in the past and have closed the book!) We can never stop learning about our Savior. Learning brings us closer.
Verse 14:4 has to wait until tomorrow. It needs its own explanation.
Blessings on your day,
Good Monday morning. It’s another frosty one as we begin another week. Yesterday’s Annual Meeting was great with wonderful discussion and forward thinking. We elected three new council members: Julie Nielsen, Angie Spartz and Dan Peterson. I was so happy that we could broadcast to FaceBook and people could join us and hear the discussion even if they couldn’t be there in person. Thank you Lord for technology.
Read chapter 14 in preparation for this week.
The Lamb and the 144,000
14 “Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion! And with him were one hundred forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who have been redeemed from the earth. 4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; these follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been redeemed from humankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless.”
The 144,000 is a symbolic expression, but some churches believe that is THE number of people who will be saved. Do you really think our gracious God would take that few people to be with Him in the end? Remember, we talked about this mark before. It could stand for ownership, loyalty, security, dependence and/or safety. Branding of people was a common phenomenon in the ancient world. People were branded with owner’s marks, the name of a general to whom they were loyal, on a body to keep it safe until a loved one arrived, the mark used on a chieftan’s camels marked his dependents as well; as captives, some were branded with a horse on their forehead, the emblem of Sicily, and some were branded with a ivy leaf, the emblem of Bacchus.
These are marks to indicate degradation and cruelty.
The mark that we bear on our foreheads is invisible. It is the mark of the cleansing water of baptism and the sign of the cross. That is a mark of safety, security, and God’s gracious goodness.
Blessings on your day, stay warm!
Good Friday morning. Are you chilly enough? The cold has arrived and plans to stick around a while. Maybe the groundhog was right!
As we finish up chapter 13, we get the mark of the beast 666.
Revelation 13: 11-17
11 “Then I saw another beast that rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and it makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of all; 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to perform on behalf of the beast, it deceives the inhabitants of earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that had been wounded by the sword and yet lived; 15 and it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast could even speak and cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.
The beast could speak. That was not a difficult task for the emperor’s priests who knew how to make all kinds of signs and wonders (magic); they knew how to make images and idols speak. Sort of like ventriloquism. Speaking like a dragon could very well mean like a serpent, the one who deceived Eve.
Those who would not worship the beast would be killed. Yes, indeed. That was the law!
Ok. The mark of the beast. I bet you are on the edge of your seat! All good Jewish men wore phylacteries on their left arm and forehead. These were little leather boxes with little scrolls of parchment with the following passages: Exodus 13: 1-10; 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11: 13-21. The mark of the beast is a parody of this sacred Jewish custom.
OR. Slaves were branded with the mark of the owner if they had run away or were guilty of any grave misdemeanor. The mark was called a stigma. We use that word today to describe someone attached to a dishonorable deed. The ones who are marked are the property of the beast.
There are many more theories about this mark. But, they all point to being property of the beast or being devoted followers of the beast. There are as many theories as to what the actual 666 means. Numbers in Greek and Hebrew were represented by letters. Someone came up with the theory that it is a code number for evil and during the Second World War, a Dr. Kepler assigned numbers to letters beginning with A=100, B= 101, C=102, etc.
and the sum is 666!
What do you think?
Most scholars believe the number stands for Nero and that John is forecasting the coming of the antichrist in the form of Nero, the incarnation of all evil, returning to this world.
Blessings on your day,
Good Thursday morning. Thank you to all of the followers of this study on Revelation. It is not easy stuff, but you are hanging in there. We are more than half way through!
N.T. Wright has this to say: “For Christians at the time John wrote Revelation, worshipping or not worshipping the Roman powers was quickly becoming the dividing line between people who were acceptable in the community and people who weren’t. Not long after this time, some local officials introduced a formal requirement that unless you had offered the required sacrifices you weren’t allowed in the market. From quite early on the Christians were faced with a stark alternative; stay true to the Lamb and risk losing your livelihood, the ability to sell or buy; or capitulate to the monster, sacrifice to Caesar at the behest of the local officials, and then everything will be all right–except your integrity as one of the Lamb’s followers.”
Just imagine the dilemma and ask yourself what you would do. How are we tempted to compromise our faith in order to make life easier?
9 “Let anyone who has an ear listen:
10 If you are to be taken captive,
into captivity you go;
if you kill with the sword,
with the sword you must be killed.
Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.”
See Matthew 26:52 for the same words spoken by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Pray for all who are tempted to give in to the pressures of the world to trade in our God for the gods of the world. Pray that our government officials govern in a way that stands up to evil. Pray for those whose faith is built on the sand.
Blessings on your day,
Good Wednesday morning. I read that the groundhog predicted 6 more weeks of winter. Well, what do you know? I thought winter was over. Yeah, right. We needed a groundhog to tell us that?
The attitude about Rome changes in the Revelation to John. Previously, Paul had received help from the Roman government. He wrote a number of times to be a good citizen, to fear God and honor the emperor. But, now, Caesar worship has begun and Rome has begun its persecution of Christians.
In 13:4, there is a grim and terrible parody. “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” From Exodus 15:11–“Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods?” Any empire which is founded on brute force and not on moral greatness is anti-God according to Barclay. God is always asking for our hands and feet to do His work; so is Satan. We have a choice to make!
13:5-6 5 “The beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven.”
This may simply mean that the general power of the empire and Caesar worship is a blasphemy against God. Or, some theologians posit that is might be specifically the Emperor Caligula who was an epileptic and a little mad. He took his own divinity very seriously and insisted that altars be built all over the empire and that he should be universally worshipped! Caligula refused to acknowledge the rights of the Jews to worship their God and insisted that an image of himself be set up in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. Can you just imagine how the Jews felt about that? This may have been the insult that John imagined.
Good stuff, eh?
Blessings on your day,
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