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Past Ponderings

Friday, November 25, 2022

It’s Not Han’s Millennium… But What Is It? (Revelation 20:1-6)

VIDEO 

It’s Not Han’s Millennium… But What Is It? (Revelation 20:1-6)

GIST: Because of Jesus’ power and grace, we can be part of what He’s doing now & forever.

Are you a premillennialist, postmillennialist, or amillennialist? These questions might not mean anything to some of you, but they are the kinds of questions that made me so nervous about walking through the book of Revelation several years ago. Not because they don’t matter, but because they tended to accompany a line of questioning that turned the study of Revelation more into an opportunity for academic debate than a chance to talk about the character and plans of Jesus. On a less spiritual level, they also made me nervous…because I really didn’t feel like I had a good answer ☺️.

If you’ve studied Revelation before or even heard much about the book, the term Millennium (which I actually have a really hard time spelling by the way) is probably one you’ve heard. It’s one of the most talked about and probably the most debated concepts in the book, and that's not without reason. It actually directly impacts how people read the entire letter. What’s interesting to me is that the entire concept comes from six verses. Not just six verses in Revelation. Only these six verses in the entire Bible reference these 1,000 years. That being said, it is important to make sure we interpret Scripture through the lens of Scripture. I never want you guys to think I somehow have a superior understanding. There are things in these passages I don’t fully understand. And there are theologians I highly respect that have differing viewpoints on these six verses, as well. That’s ok because the core message of the passage doesn’t change with these interpretative views. What we have to be very careful about is reading into these verses that which the rest of Scripture contradicts. Unfortunately, that happens too often.

So, today we’re going to read those six verses, and I will try to prayerfully walk through them with you before you stuff your bellies with turkey and ham ☺️. However, let’s pray that God’s truth is on full display as we talk through what is meant to point us to Him!


“1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. 4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with Him for a thousand years.”


Every Sunday, my goal is to get us into God’s Word as quickly as possible. I know my personality is easily distracted, so I want to try my hardest to combat that and keep Jesus the focus of our time together. However, before diving into the passage breakdown this morning, I want to at least quickly outline the four major millennial viewpoints for you. You know I’m passionate about not “skipping stuff” just because it’s difficult—and this falls into that “difficult stuff” category. Therefore, if I’m going to tell you this is frequently debated amongst Christians, I want to at least show a snapshot of why. I will try to keep this brief, but even if it’s not super brief— I have pictures ☺️.

  1. Dispensational Premillennialism

I wanted to start by showing this one because it is by far the most popular view in America. In fact, this is probably the way most of you have grown up hearing the book of Revelation taught. However, it’s actually fairly new. It didn’t really become a distinct viewpoint until the 1800s and caught steam in America because of something called the Scofield Reference Bible. This was the first study Bible printed in America, and starting in 1909 it was widely distributed across the country. Because of this, it had a profound influence on early American theologians, so the dispensational view of Revelation was taught by early American evangelists, and over time it became the prevailing view in our country. In our lifetime, we’ve seen it popularized and spread even more by things like the Left Behind series. This viewpoint divides history into dispensations which basically show God working in different ways throughout different times in history—the Old Testament, New Testament, Great Tribulation, and Millennium are key parts of that. This stance takes a very chronological approach to Revelation. According to this view, there will be a physical rapture of all believers—which would be God taking all the Christians out of the earth—before or sometime during a literal 7-year great tribulation. Then, Jesus will come back and rule with believers on earth for a thousand years (which in dispensationalism focuses quite a bit on the nation of Israel being restored) before the final judgment of the world. 

I just want to be completely honest here. I feel like this interpretation is not a very faithful reading of Scripture. It tends to really focus on Revelation as a code to crack, and, unfortunately, often when I have listened to people teach from this perspective I end up hearing a lot more about foreign powers and subversive government plots than I do about Jesus’ plan to rescue and redeem the world. In addition to this, this viewpoint often includes teachings that don’t seem to fit with the rest of Scripture like the Holy Spirit, who is God and omnipresent, being removed from the earth before that “Great Tribulation”— which would also result in anyone who is saved being saved by some form of good works, or at the very least without the Holy Spirit working in their hearts. To me, this doesn’t match with the intention of the book to reveal Jesus to us, or the structure of the book that shows us not a chronological list of events or a secret code to crack, but the same picture of God’s justice and grace from several different angles, so we can look forward to being with Him while also being prepared for what life will be like until He returns.

Ok, so I’ll be much faster on these next few, but I’ve been asked about dispensationalism several times over the course of this study (even if that name was never used), so I wanted to address the elephant in the room (and Melissa encouraged me to do so ☺️).

  1. Historic Premillennialism

This is a much older viewpoint. In fact, most of its teachings date back to the second century. Just looking at the picture, you can see it is premillennialism stripped of the dispensations. It does teach that the church will be taken away after a time of tribulation which is when Jesus returns to reign on earth for a literal 1,000 years and before the final judgment of the world.

These next two views are actually very similar. In fact, in most cases, they primarily differ in their view of what will happen during the millennium, but not significantly.

  1. Postmillennialism

This is another early viewpoint, but it was especially popular with the Puritans. Though there are some that view the great tribulation as the temple being destroyed in A.D. 70 (as indicated in the graphic above), most view the millennium as the time from Christ’s resurrection until His return (which we’ll touch on more in a moment) concluding with a time with lots of salvation especially amongst ethnic Jews just before Jesus’ return and the final judgment. 

Now, like I said, this last viewpoint and postmillennialism are very similar. In fact, postmillennialism is sometimes referred to as optimistic amillennialism.

  1. Amillennialism

This is a stance that was held by early church fathers like Augustine. The term literally means “no or without millennium”. However, it is not saying that there isn’t one, but that it’s already happening. Like postmillennium, it does not take this 1,000 years to be a literal time period. Instead, it teaches that both great tribulations and great movements of God in salvation will continue to happen (though they will intensify) until Jesus returns. To me, this seems consistent with not only how Revelation uses numbers—in fact, we’ve seen thousands used to represent innumerable masses before (see Revelation 7)— but also with the picture we’ve seen painted throughout the letter of what life will be like until Jesus comes back.

Ok, so I know that was a lot, but hopefully it helped someone. Now, all that being said, what is the gist of these six verses ☺️? For the next few minutes, let’s try to keep the focus the focus: Because of Jesus’ power and grace, we can be part of what He’s doing now & forever. Let’s break this down, and then hit some takeaways.


“1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.” 

This section is frequently referred to as the binding of Satan. The question that arises is…what exactly does that mean? As has probably become abundantly clear ☺️, these verses have resulted in a lot of debate. However, this is something we’ve seen happening throughout Revelation. In fact, I was just re-reading Revelation 12 last week, and there we see the dragon (Satan) being thrown down from Heaven, defeated by the blood of the Lamb, and then turning and pursuing the people of God who keep being rescued by Jesus. It’s the same picture! Here are couple of observations.

1. Satan is a defeated foe, and the gospel is spreading! Though there is much here that is difficult for me to understand, I do see this. The binding of Satan means his influence over the nations isn’t what God allowed it once to be. As part of Jesus’ rescue plan, we see people outside of Israel accepting Christ in large numbers. Jesus references this in Luke 10, as well. “17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!" 18 And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."” When these first missionaries came back, they were shocked that even demons were listening to them. And Jesus responded with, “Yeah, I did that! But keep your joy in the right place. Don’t be hyped that demons are listening to you, but be excited about why—you’ve been saved and covered in My righteousness!”

2. A final “battle” is coming, but Jesus is going to win. This verse tells us Satan will be released, then verses 7-10 tell us he will set the stage for a war against God…and immediately lose. We’ve seen that picture several times throughout Revelation. Until Jesus returns, the gospel will be free to spread, but Satan is bound—not gone. That means there will be building persecution and trials. Life will be hard… but blessed because we know what’s happening next. When Jesus returns; sin, Satan, and death will be defeated once and for all, and Truth will reign!

Speaking of reining… that’s what this next section seems to be about, as well. 


“4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with Him for a thousand years.”

Ok, let’s try to break this down. First, where are we? We see thrones and people sitting on them. That’s an image we’ve seen in Revelation before. Remember when the 24 elders, who represent the whole Church, were sitting on thrones surrounding the throne of Jesus back in chapter four? Where was that? Heaven. 

And who is sitting on these thrones? If you’ve been studying this with us for a while, you probably know the answer. If it was happening this way earlier… there is a good chance we’re getting to see the same picture another way. But just in case, let’s check it out. Those killed for Jesus—that would be martyrs, those who lost their lives because of Christ. Special attention is given throughout this letter to those who will die while serving Jesus. Why? Well, for one, that was the reality these early churches were facing, so they’re being directly reminded: that’s not the real end of their story! However, is this only those who have been killed for Jesus? No. There is an and there. It also includes those who have not been marked by the beast. I know it’s been a bit, but if you remember, this refers to all believers—those who have chosen Jesus over the world.

So, what is happening to them? First, we see that they are alive. In fact, they have experienced the first resurrection. What exactly does that mean? Well, we’re told that means they won’t face the second death which is a reference to Hell. So, what keeps you from facing Hell? Salvation. Keep this passage in mind, and listen to what Paul says in Ephesians 2:1-8 “1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- 6 and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”

This is a picture like those we keep getting in Revelation. Jesus shows us His justice and then reminds us of His grace! Satan will rage against God’s people. Sin will fight to destroy us from within, but we can rest assured of the future He has prepared for us because He came to bring us life. And because He loves us, we get to be part of His story. In something that is crazy to me, we’re told these believers are reigning with Christ and serving as His priest, people who draw near to Him and convey His message to the world. This isn’t the only time we see this kind of language in the Bible. Look at 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” That’s beautiful. Now and forever, we have the privilege of being part of what Jesus is doing all around us! That seems to be the message of these six verses.

Ok, I know that was a lot, but let’s hit some quick→


TAKEAWAYS

Some things are hard to understand, but this is clear: 

  1. Sin wants to destroy you.

  2. But Jesus loves you.

  3. He has also given you the message that saves the world, so you can be part of His plan right now!

  4. AND—because of His incredible love—those who belong to Him will also continue to be part of what He’s doing forever!

  5. Yeah, that’s a good reason to be thankful. Because, you know, it’s Thanksgiving Sunday, so I probably should mention that somewhere in here ☺️.


Saturday, November 19, 2022

What Does Judgment Tell Us About Jesus? (Revelation 19:11-21)

VIDEO 

What Does Judgment Tell Us About Jesus? (Revelation 19:11-21)

GIST: Jesus is holy, powerful, and loving; He is coming to rescue and reign; and He will destroy sin once and for all. 

 

Today, we’re continuing our discussion of Revelation 19. Last week, we looked at the section that is usually referred to as the marriage supper of the Lamb. It paints this beautiful picture of what life in Heaven will be like for those saved by grace. The rest of chapter 19 actually describes another kind of supper, but it’s not a pretty picture. 

As we’re nearing the end of this letter. We have seen again and again God’s plan to rescue and redeem. However, part of that plan involves destroying sin once and for all —the source of all sorrow will be eliminated. This is wonderful news…except for those who won’t let go of sin. Jesus has come to bring amazing grace into our lives, but so many choose the destruction of sin over His love. This passage calls us to take sin seriously as we see those clinging to it not feasting with Jesus, but being feasted on by the sin they wouldn’t let go. 

  This passage can be difficult. Let it be. Sin is not just a light issue, and too often we take it as such. It is destructive and condemning, and must be destroyed. All that being said, let’s not forget this letter is supposed to be the Revelation of Jesus. So, let’s look at this passage of judgment and consider what it’s saying about Jesus’ person, purpose, and promise. (Yes, it’s three p’s… sometimes alliteration is just too much fun!)

Let me give you our gist; then we’ll take the verses as we come to them. Here’s our gist: Jesus is holy, powerful, and loving; He is coming to rescue and reign; and He will destroy sin once and for all. 


I. His Person: Holy, Powerful, Loving (11-14)

As this passage starts, we’re given a really awesome picture of Jesus, and we are reminded of His person, or character. Check it out→ 


11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True…”

Unlike in chapter 6 when we saw one riding on a white horse symbolizing selfish conflict, Jesus is portrayed as the triumphant king who is both Faithful (always true to His Word, always reliable and to be relied upon) and True (real, and in fact, the truth!). 

This might be getting a bit ahead of ourselves here, but what victory has He won? He’s defeated sin! Why? For us. He didn’t gain anything from this battle. He didn’t have to do this. He came conquering sin just because He loves us… period. We have to remember that.


“... and in righteousness He judges and makes war.”

As only He can. Let’s also remember this. God is holy and loving, which means everything He does is both holy and loving. The war He wages against sin isn’t like a human war. For one, sin is WAY overmatched! Furthermore, Jesus isn’t impaired by anything close to self-seeking motives. Every decision He makes is just, holy, and loving because He can’t be anything else!


“12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written that no one knows but Himself.”

These are all reminiscent of images we’ve seen before. His purifying and all seeing eyes, His power and majesty (many crowns), His mystery and holiness (the name no one can know). Interestingly, a lot of people will spend time trying to figure out what that name is… which seems self-defeating ☺️. There is SO much we can know about God. The entire Bible was written to show us who He is. Still yet, He is beyond us because He is God, so we won’t understand everything He does. He is powerful and separate from us, but He is not distant. I do feel like that’s pointed to in the next verse, as well. 


“13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood…”

Now, I know that seems super grotesque (maybe even fitting on this Sunday before Halloween). However, there are two views here. Some say this is a picture of His blood shed for us. Others interpret this as the symbolic blood of those He’s about to judge. Though I think fair arguments can be made for both, since the judgment is still about to happen, I do lean more toward the blood He shed for us. Either way, this is a picture of Jesus, who is holy and powerful, coming down and interacting directly with His creation. In fact, like in the story of Exodus, it is because of the shed blood that we can be spared the punishment for sin we deserve. We must keep this in view.


“...and the name by which He is called is The Word of God.”

In John’s gospel, He opens by referring to Jesus as the Word of God — God’s message to the world. And it is through this message, which we are called to bear, that the world is judged, because this message both reveals sin for what it is and points to our salvation. If you hear this and still choose to reject Him, you are then judged by the Word you know.


“14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses.” 

Now, He’s joined by…more people on white horses? Who are these other riders dressed like Jesus? Christians, purified and triumphant. Why? Because they are following Him. This is a picture of His love. The only way we can be purified is by receiving His rescue and redemption, and the only reason He gives it is because of His love! That love then feeds into→ 


II. His Purpose: To Rescue and Reign (15-18)

“15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Again, it is the Word of God which both saves and condemns because it reveals truth. This, with the rod of iron imagery, echo Old Testament passages on judgment (Isa. 49:2; 11:4; and Ps. 2:9). Interestingly, and you might have noticed this in the margins of your Bible, the word translated rule here is the same word in Greek used to mean shepherd. Consider the implication. God is the good shepherd whose rod is and staff comfort His sheep (Psalm 23). However, wolves that try to come and attack the sheep feel differently about the rod. No matter the strength of the foe, He will punish them in just wrath because He is the King of kings and Lord of lords! Remember, His wrath is still the outpouring of His love. Like Brett Davis said, it is “love burning away all that is not love”. He is coming to rescue and reign. 


“17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God,18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” 

And here’s the other feast. It’s not a pretty picture. Sam Storm pointed out, “The picture of vultures or other birds of prey feasting on the flesh of unburied corpses killed in battle…was a familiar one to people in the Old Testament (cf. Deut. 28:26; 1 Sam. 17:44-46; 1 Kings 14:11; 16:4; 21:24; 2 Kings 9:10; Jer. 7:33; 15:3; 16:4; 19:7; 34:20; Ezek. 29:5).” This rings of Old Testament judgment language, but it’s still a hard image. Why? Because it’s talking about people from all walks of life facing judgment, and we don’t want to think about this. We want to think that sin can be sort of ignored, or we can get a slap on the wrist or something — but not this, not wrath. When I’ve shared the gospel with people this is the point that most often gets push back. Conversations often follow this pattern: 

Do you believe Jesus is God? Yes

Do you believe you’re a sinner? Yes

Do you believe you deserve to go to Hell? No.

We know we’re sinners, but don’t want to face the consequences of those sins. The Bible is very clear that we have to. We’re not the King, but Jesus is and His reigning points to→


III. His Promise: To Defeat Sin Once & For All (19-21)

“19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against Him who was sitting on the horse and against His army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of Him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.”

Kevin DeYoung pointed out something neat about the structure of the letters from chapter 12. That is the point where John uses more of a narrative perspective to describe what will be happening until Jesus returns. In so doing, he introduces several “characters”. The woman, the child, the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, the prostitute, and Babylon. Then, each of those characters, those symbols of sin, exit in reverse order. They are taken away, dealt with, destroyed, until only Jesus and the Church, His people, remain!

That’s the promise being pointed to here. Or, to be more clear, there is the fulfillment of one being pointed to. Do you remember what John the Baptist said about Jesus when He saw Him? “...Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29b). The false prophet and the beast and those who followed them (and then later we’ll see Satan himself) are thrown into Hell. Sin is defeated. Victory is won! Jesus came and died for this purpose. It is no light matter. And His judgment reveals so much about Him. Will you look to Him today? 

Let’s hit some quick→ 


TAKEAWAYS

  1. Jesus is holy and loving.

  2. Sin is destroying us.

  3. He came to rescue us by facing the Hell we deserve.

  4. Any who believe in Him and receive His gift of rescue will rejoice forever in the life we were made for—Heaven, the marriage feast of the Lamb!

  5. Those who reject Him are running toward a completely different kind of feast—one of judgment for the sin they’re embracing.

  6. Will you come to the holy, powerful, and loving Savior today?

Friday, October 28, 2022

Are You Ready For Awesome? (Revelation 19:6-10)

VIDEO 

Are You Ready For Awesome? (Revelation 19:6-10)

GIST: Heaven will be exuberant, Godly, and full of praise; so trust God as you get yourself ready, live with joyful hope, and let your life be defined by worship. 

Today, we’re picking up in Revelation 19. After two weeks of focusing on sin, we’re going to get a peek at the most wonderful celebration of all time—the marriage supper of the Lamb. Here, we have a picture of Christians in Heaven. Jesus has come to defeat sin and rescue us from destruction so we can experience this. Let’s check it out! 


“6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"-- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God." 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God." For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”


I’ll try not to keep you too long this morning (even though I technically have six points ☺️) because I know many of you are probably still dragging a bit from our really awesome trunk-or-treat last night (180 Bibles distributed and an estimated 450-500 people attending!) So let me just dive straight into our gist: Heaven will be exuberant, Godly, and full of praise; so trust God as you get yourself ready, live with joyful hope, and let your life be defined by worship. 


I. Heaven Will Be Exuberant

“6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude…”

Ok, so I won’t spend too much time here, but we have to at least notice this. Heaven seems to be, well→ 

Alive. I used the word exuberant because it’s a great word. It means “characterized by a lively energy and excitement” (Oxford Dictionary). We’re going to see with the next descriptions (roar of many waters, mighty peals of thunders) it’s not quiet. Heaven is supposed to be vibrant, so you know that means it’s ok if church is like that too, right? ☺️ I heard a pastor say something about like this early this week, and it really hit home with me. He said his earliest memories of church were uncomfortable because he was always being told to be quiet and sit still. Church was lifeless to Him. And that stereotype ends up impacting how we view Heaven. Like I’ve tried to point out several times during this study, our culture has created this quiet, yoga-meets-hospital-waiting room-meets-clean-hippie-commune picture of Heaven. The reality is something so much better. Let’s keep reminding ourselves and others of that. The best way to do that, of course, is by living with that kind of excitement now!


II. Heaven Will Be Godly

“...like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder…”

Ok, I know this point seems like a given. I mean, of course Heaven will be Godly. It probably sounds like saying closets will have clothes. But, there is something really neat about the way these loud voices sound that I wanted to point out really quickly. This is actually something I just noticed while reading over this passage this week. Look at these two descriptions. The voice of the multitude sounds like the roar of many waters and peals of thunder. Where have we heard these descriptions before?

Roar of many waters has actually been applied to the multitude in Heaven before in Revelation, as well. However, the first time we see this description was way back in chapter 1: “12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around His chest. 14 The hairs of His head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and His voice was like the roar of many waters.Here it is describing… Jesus. 

What about peals of thunder? Well that’s been used a bunch. In fact, you’ll find this description in Revelation 4:5, 8:5, 11:19, 16:18—everytime we get a picture of Jesus coming back! 

So, both of these are descriptions used to describe the sound of God, and now that sound is coming out of our mouths. Here’s what hit me→ Our words—so often used to bring pain, so often taken out of context, so often taken from us by fear or discrimination or persecution— are now reflecting the very character of God! That’s the beautiful transformation of grace!


III. Heaven Will Be Full Of Praise

Look at how this verse then breaks down what our loud voices will be saying. “...crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory…”

Hallelujah means praise Jehovah. And we are praising Him For The Lord God Almighty Reigns! The all powerful God is in control! So, let us rejoice—get excited, get pumped— and exult— speak highly of, draw attention to—and give glory— make His character known. This is what forever will be about!


IV. So Trust God As You Get Ready

“for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"-- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”

And here we have a really clear picture of that Biblical balancing act that has led to about a bazillion debates and discussions→ 

God’s Sovereignty & Human Responsibility. First, we see that the bride has: made herself ready. This is a picture of her waiting in active and eager expectation of His coming. This echoes the Jewish tradition of the bridegroom coming to get the bride at an unknown time. He would go and prepare a place, usually in his father’s house, and would come back whenever He was done. But, they didn’t have cellphones, so the bride just needed to be ready at any moment.

On a practical note, this reflects what we talked about several weeks ago. Living prepared means living actively for Jesus now. Loving God and loving people. Seeking to know Him more and striving to show Him and His love to the world.

We can’t miss this though. The bride made herself ready…but she was also granted to clothe herself in purity. What does that mean? We’re made new. We don’t clean ourselves up, but Jesus rescues us from our sin. Righteous deeds are also “granted to us”, so even the good we do is part of the gift of God. Still, we’re granted to clothe which implies we’re still putting the clothes on. What does this mean? ☺️

Here’s the gist of this beautiful truth spread all throughout the Bible. Jesus saves us. He is 100% in control of salvation. That is such a beautiful reassurance. We don’t save ourselves. That is all Him. He then opens doors for us to walk through, but He doesn’t control our actions in a robotic way. We’re still responsible for our actions. He provides opportunities that only He can create, but we must walk with Him through those. 

So we… trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. ☺️. Oh, and speaking of happiness. We’re actually called in this passage to→ 


V. Live With Joyful Hope

“9 And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God."”

Yeah, I know. It’s here again! We’ve seen this word “blessed” before. It refers to true and lasting happiness. Who is the recipient of this? Those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Guys, Jesus loves the whole world. Though not all will be saved, this offer is extended to any who will believe. This opportunity for lasting joy is presented to everyone. 

Receiving this gift of salvation, experiencing His rescue and looking forward to His return, then points us toward lasting happiness even now. I love how Albert Barnes put this. “...In all times of persecution - in every dark hour of despondency - the church… should receive it as a solemn truth never to be doubted, that … Christ would finally prevail, and that all persecution and sorrow here would be followed by joy and triumph in heaven.” If this future is certain, we have all the reasons we need for joy in the present!

 

VI. And Let Your Life Be Defined By Worship

“10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God." For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Wait, John did what? It’s impossible to read this section and not notice that the apostle John just tried to worship an angel. The angel is quick to point out that he and John on are the same mission, so to focus his worship on the one true God, not the messenger. 

Some commentators excuse this as the angel being such a good representative that John got all caught up in the moment and mistook the messenger for the real deal. Honestly, I completely see where they’re coming from. However, this isn’t the last time we’ll see this happen, so I think it also points to a danger we can all fall into, that is worshipping good instead of God. I think we should take this as a warning. Because of common grace, which is the gift of God, there are some really awesome things in this world. There are also some really awesome people, some of which even serve Jesus. However, nothing and no one deserves our worship except Jesus. If we put all our hope in people, no matter how good and Godly they might seem, they will let us down. And if they crumble, what happens to our faith?

Instead, our lives should be defined by worshiping the one true God. In fact, our lives, like the angels, are meant to declare Jesus and His message. The idea of the testimony of Jesus being the spirit of prophecy points to sharing the truth of Jesus (the gospel) with the world. 

Alright, let’s recap with some→


TAKEAWAYS

  1. Heaven will be exuberant.

  2. Heaven will be Godly.

  3. Heaven will be full of praise.

  4. So trust God as you get ready.

  5. Live with joyful hope.

  6. And let your life be defined by worship!

  7. And this seven just makes this seem more like a Revelation study. ☺️