February 2010

Dear Friends,

           Things were not going well for the beloved disciple John. The emperor Domitian claimed he was divine and demanded to be worshiped. He had John exiled for preaching Jesus as Lord as a pastor and elder in the church at Ephesus. So John was exiled as a prisoner on a desert island (Patmos) knowing that all of his fellow disciples had been killed for their faith in Jesus. He may have felt discouraged, worn out and washed up with very few signs of the kingdom of God that he had heard the Lord Jesus proclaim. And then he receives the Revelation of Jesus Christ and God used this faithful old saint to write the book of Revelation to encourage all of His people across the ages with this truth – that God will put an end to all evil, mete out His righteous judgment and rightly reward every act of faithful, loving obedience to Him. "Hold on, I'm coming," says the Lord.  

            For most of us our problems don't compare with John's and the early church, but at times we too can feel like this trial/pain/ struggle will never end and that we can hardly bear it. We too need the hope of the vision God gave John in this wonderful book about the return of our Lord Who tells us, "Yes this trial will end, and end forever!" "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" (Rev. 21:4-5)  In the midst of our trials, in order to receive a fresh revelation of God's will for our lives we, like John, need to remain prayerful, hopeful (in God) and open to a new word and a new work in us and through us.                                                

            The Revelation of Jesus Christ is the unveiling (apocalypse) of the risen and glorified Lord Jesus Christ and the glorious future of our Triune God and His people. The curtain of eternity is pulled back and we see the end of all things.  This teaching is based on what commentators call the futuristic approach from the outline seen in Rev. 1:19: "Write, therefore, what you have seen, (the past – chapter 1) what is now (presently in John's lifetime – chapters 2-3) and what will take place later" (the future – chapters 4-22). This view is taught in the popular book The Late, Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey and the more recent Left Behind series by LaHaye and Jenkins.  Another outline of the chapters is as follows: we see  the glorified Christ giving hope to John and us His people in chapter 1; we see Jesus with His church rebuking, warning,  and commending us in chapters 2-3; we see Jesus with the Father and the Spirit being worshiped in heaven in chapters 4-5; we see Jesus in His second coming (visible to all in His glory) as the judge of all the earth in chapters 6-19 as "He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." (Rev. 19:15-16); and finally we see Jesus ruling from the throne of David in the millennial kingdom and afterwards as our Bridegroom and King in the new heavens and new earth (20-22).           

            "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him (Jesus) to show his servants (all believers) what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw – that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart (obey it) what is written in it, because the time is near. John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: (presently southwest Turkey) Grace and peace to you from (the Triune God) him who is, and who was, and who is to come (God the Father), and from the seven spirits before his throne (the Holy Spirit), and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead (risen presently) and the ruler of the kings of the earth (future).  To him who loves us (presently) and has freed us from our sins by his blood (past) and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father (our purpose – to serve God) – to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. (Bow the knee to Jesus now as a believer and His servant versus later as His defeated enemy. Phil. 2:10) So shall it be! Amen.  "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." ("I'm A to Z. I'm The God Who Is, The God Who Was, and The God About to Arrive."  The Message) He is coming back! (is to come) He is in control! (the Almighty) And He loves us (v.5)! Our good future is certain!                

         "I, John, your brother and companion (we're in this together with John and all believers, so stay connected) in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance (suffering and endurance are normal for believers who are swimming upstream in a world that's rushing downstream – "any dead fish can float downstream") that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands (the seven churches in chapters 2-3 but representative of all churches), and among the lampstands (Jesus was with them and with us) was someone "like a son of man" dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet , and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades." {"The glorious form in which Christ appeared in several particulars. [1.] He was clothed with a garment down to the foot, a princely and priestly robe, denoting righteousness and honour. [2.] He was girt about with a golden girdle, the breast-plate of the high priest, on which the names of his people are engraven; he was ready girt to do all the work of a Redeemer. [3.] His head and hairs were white like wool or snow. He was the Ancient of days; his hoary head was no sign of decay, but was indeed a crown of glory. [4.] His eyes were as a flame of fire, piercing and penetrating into the very hearts and reins of men, scattering terrors among his adversaries. [5.] His feet were like unto fine burning brass, strong and steadfast, supporting his own interest, subduing his enemies, treading them to powder. [6.] His voice was as the sound of many waters, of many rivers falling in together. He can and will make himself heard to those who are afar off as well as to those who are near. His gospel is a mighty stream, fed by the upper springs of infinite wisdom and knowledge. [7.] He had in his right hand seven stars, that is, the ministers of the seven churches, who are under his direction, have all their light and influence from him, and are secured and preserved by him. [8.] Out of his mouth went a two-edged sword, his word, which both wounds and heals, strikes at sin on the right hand and on the left. [9.] His countenance was as the sun shining, its strength too bright and dazzling for mortal eyes to behold." Matthew Henry}  After seeing the Lord Jesus Christ in His awesome glory John (and we) are very motivated to obey One such as He!!!


In the midst of our trials, in order to receive a fresh revelation of God's will for our lives we, like John, need to remain prayerful, hopeful (in God) and open to a new word and a new work in us and through us. On a macro level – what problems in this world concern you the most?   And on a micro level – what personal struggles concern you the most?  How can this book give you hope in your present concerns?

"I'm A to Z. I'm The God Who Is, The God Who Was, and The God About to Arrive." (Rev.1:8 -The Message) Jesus is coming back! He is all-powerful and in control! And He loves us (v.5)! Our good future is certain! How does this truth affect you? 

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword.  His truth is marching on. Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on! 
Words: Ju­lia W. Howe,1861


                                                                        Until He comes,

                                                                        Len and Kristen      


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