January, 2010

Dear Friends,

      "One of the two pilgrims says to the other, "When do you find yourself in the most wholesome and most vigorous spiritual state?" To which the other pilgrim says, "When I think of the place to which I am going." (John Bunyan – Pilgrim's Progress).

     I have just about completed a teaching on the book of Revelation and plan to share it with you in my 2010 monthly letters. After looking at the book of beginnings, Genesis, last year we will now look at the book of completion. (See comparison of Genesis to Revelation by Ken Boa and Bruce Wilkinson from their book Talk thru the Bible on the back page). Revelation gives us the clearest view of heaven (especially the last two chapters) and the consummation of all things in all of Scripture. And without a clear view of heaven (what I call the "heaven factor") it is difficult to remain a faithful, obedient worshiper of God and Him alone until the end. Without the "heaven factor" it is like reading a book where the villains are winning and fail to read the last chapter where the good guys win (heaven) and the bad guys (Satan, demons and Christ-rejecters) get their due (hell). Just a few verses from Revelation show how important knowing the end can be to inspire us to share our faith with the lost and to remain faithful to the end. "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15). "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done" (Rev. 22:12).  "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 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" (Rev. 21:3-4). In these verses we see the motivation to repent now before we die or before the Lord returns in Rev. 20:15; and the motivation for obedience so we will receive our full recompense in heaven (Rev. 22:12); and the promise and certain hope of a life of no pain or separation (no death) from our saved loved ones, lived in the very presence of God forever (Rev. 21:3-4). Jesus promised us, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). This life is a valley of tears but for believers we have God as "a very present help in times of trouble" (Psalm 46:1) and the blessed hope of His return and the glory of heaven (Titus 2:11-14). So we can be "sorrowful yet always rejoicing" in hope (2 Cor. 6:10; Rom. 5:2).                                                         

     One of man's problems in obeying the Lord is both delayed punishment as seen in Ecclesiastes 8:11: "When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong." (Also see Psalm 36:1-4); and delayed reward, "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised" (i.e., in this life – Heb. 11:39; also see James 5:7-9). Through Revelation the Lord lets us see both the ultimate punishment for sin and disobedience, and the reward for obedience. We get to see the end ahead of time and "prepare to meet our God"  (Amos 4:12).

     We see the "heaven factor" modeled by the saints in the hall of faith in Hebrews 11. The primary focus of Hebrews 11 speaks of a vital faith in God that only realizes its full recompense in heaven – which is to reach our full capacity to worship and glorify God. "By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt,  because he was looking ahead to his reward" (vv. 24-26).  "Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection"  (v.35).  "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised" (v. 39).        {"God has borne witness to the faith of these OT saints, yet they died before receiving the fulfillment of the promise. They did not live to see the advent of the long awaited Messiah or to enjoy the blessings that would flow from His ministry both in the Millennial Kingdom but much more in heaven." MacDonald, William ; Farstad, Arthur: Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995, S. Heb 11:39} Even our Lord, as a Man, was moved to worship and obey God "for the joy set before Him (heaven) He endured the cross" (Heb. 12:2; also John 17:4-5).

     In Revelation Jesus prepares us so we will be ready for His return. Like a good teacher or professor He wants us to know what we need to learn so we will do well on the final exam (1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:9-11). And since we don't know when we are going to die or when the church will be raptured (1 Thess. 4:13-18) we would be wise to learn it now.


 "One of the two pilgrims says to the other, "When do you find yourself in the most wholesome and most vigorous spiritual state?" To which the other pilgrim says, "When I think of the place to which I am going." (John Bunyan – Pilgrim's Progress) Does the "heaven factor" motivate you to a "vigorous spiritual state" as it did our Lord, Moses, Paul and others?

 Which of the truths about heaven on the Genesis/Revelation comparison chart excites you the most? Consider Psalm 73:25.

                                                            Until He comes,

                                                            Len and Kristen 




Genesis 1-3

Revelation 20-22

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (1:1)

"I saw a new heaven and a new earth" (21:1)

"The darkness He called night" (1:5)

"There shall be no night there" (21:25)

"God made two great lights" (sun and moon; 1:16)

"The city had no need of the sun or of the moon" (21:23)

"In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (2:17)

"There shall be no more death" (21:4)

Satan appears as deceiver of mankind (3:1)

Satan disappears forever (20:10)

Shown a garden into which defilement entered (3:6-7)

Shown a city into which defilement will never enter (21:27)

Walk of God with man interrupted (3:8-10)

Walk of God with man resumed (21:3)

Initial triumph of the serpent (3:13)

Ultimate triumph of the Lamb (20:10; 22:3)

"I will greatly multiply your sorrow" (3:16)

"There shall be no more death or sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain" (21:4)

"Cursed is the ground for your sake" (3:17)

"There shall be no more curse" (22:3)

Man's dominion broken in the fall of the first man, Adam (3:19)

Man's dominion restored in the rule of the new man, Christ (22:5)

First paradise closed (3:23)

New paradise opened (21:25)

Access to the tree of life disinherited in Adam (3:24)

Access to the tree of life reinstated in Christ (22:14)

"They were driven from God's presence." (3:24)

"They shall see His face" (22:4)

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