Saturday, March 31, 2018

eschatology, Allegory Story of the Spiritual Battle (Rev.12:7-17)

The first allegorical story in chapter 12 focused on Satan's battle against God and Israel.  This second allegorical story in chapter 12 focuses on the spiritual battle in general.

From the point in time that Satan and the demons made their choice to NOT follow God - until the rapture will happen and the Tribulation will begin - Satan is called the "accuser of the brethren."  We can see in the book of Job that Satan is able to approach God's throne in heaven in order to TRY TO accuse believers.  In order to tempt and TRY TO lead believers astray - Satan requires permission from God.

As seen in the scripture below, there will be a great spiritual battle in the heavens just before the rapture and the start of the Tribulation.  Hm, just curious if this is why there will be "peace and safety" on earth just before the rapture - because all the spiritual activity will be happening in heaven???  Just a thought.

Then at the rapture, all believers from all times will be caught up to heaven, leaving no believers behind on earth for Satan to accuse or tempt!

And at the very same time, not only is the influence of the Church removed from the earth, but Satan and his demons are thrown out of heaven and down onto the earth.  Satan will no longer need God's permission to deceive the nations during this brief time period.  He will only have seven years - AND - he will be very angry!  Woe to the people going through the Tribulation!!!...

(Revelation 12:7-12)  And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,
“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. 11 And 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 For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”

During the first half of the Tribulation, Satan will persecute the Israelites, but at the halfway point they will flee into the wilderness where God will protect them.  Satan will then put his focus onto those believers who did not flee into the wilderness...

(Tribulation 12:13-17)  And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. 14 But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15 And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth. 17 So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Today's takeaway:  as believers, we have to be confident in Christ and know that at the moment we became believers - Jesus forgave us all our sins and we are sealed in the Holy Spirit.  We cannot lose our salvation.  And we will not be judged for our sins when we get to heaven because God chooses to remember our sins no more. 

So when we feel guilty or unworthy about something, first assess the situation.  Did I commit a sin that needs to be confessed?  Not for salvation's sake, but for the sake of keeping our relationship close with God.  And do I need to confess and apologize to anyone else for something I've done?  If there isn't anything that needs reconciling, then I have to let that go of those feelings of guilt and unworthiness...

(1 John 1:5-9)  This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

(1 John 3:1-10)  See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

(Romans 8:1-4)  Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

(1 Thessalonians 5:23)  Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, March 30, 2018

eschatology, Allegory Story of Israel (Rev.12:1-6)

As part of the "intermission" in the book of Revelation, we see an allegory to recap history and prophecy.  This allegory does not cover every single little fact, but covers several main points.

The recap focuses on the "woman" who represents the nation of Israel with its twelve tribes.  When God came to earth in flesh, His "human" birth was through His chosen people, as promised (in the Abrahamic covenant), in order to bless all nations...

(Revelation 12:1-2)  A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

The dragon represents Satan.  His tail sweeping away a third of the stars most likely means that when Satan fell, he took with him about a third of the angels.  Because Satan's desire is to battle and do away with God, their attacks are mostly against God's chosen people.  So when Jesus came to earth (100 % God and 100 % man), Satan thought this was his chance to kill God...

(Revelation 12:3-4)  Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

When Jesus presented Himself to Israel as their Messiah, He could have ushered in the Millennial kingdom right then had Israel accepted Him as their King (according to both the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants), but - as prophesied - was rejected, crucified and rose again to have victory over death.  So right after His work on the cross was completed, He ascended to heaven to wait a while...

(Revelation 12:5)  And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

The allegory jumps right from Jesus' ascension to a scene in the Tribulation (since the Church Age does not have much to do with Israel's story).  In the second half of the Tribulation, the believing Israelites (and perhaps other believers) are going to hide in the wilderness where God will protect them.  God also seals the 144,000 (Israelites) so as to guarantee some living souls to enter the Millennium where their covenants will be fulfilled as promised...

(Revelation 12:6)  Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

Today's takeaway:  Jesus already has the victory over Satan and death, so it is Jesus we should look to for protection and strength...

(1 Peter 5:6-11)  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spiritbe on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

eschatology, The Seventh Trumpet (Rev.11:15-19)

The seventh trumpet is blown, which marks the end of the first half of the Tribulation - and soon the last set of seven (bowl) judgments will be released.  Meanwhile (during this intermission in the book of Revelation), we see that there is rejoicing in heaven over what God has done and what God will do...

(Revelation 11:15-18)  Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying,
“We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. 18 And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”

During the first 3 1/2 years, the Beast has allowed the Israelites to rebuild and worship in the temple.  At the halfway point, after killing the two witnesses (who God resurrects after 3 1/2 days), the Beast is going to betray the Israelites.  The Beast is also going to set himself up in the temple, as well as the entire world, as the only one to worship.  God knows this - and so - these next few verses sound like a great warning of the judgments to come!...

(Revelation 11:19)  And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.

Today's takeaway:  I usually remember to thank God for the things He has done in the past - but often forget to thank Him for the things that He will do in the future.  Doing this would certainly demonstrate a higher level of trust. 

And why wouldn't I trust Him for the future things BECAUSE I have seen what He has all done for me in the past.  And not only for me, but for other people I know, and for people in the Bible...

(Hebrews 13:8)  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

(Philippians 1:6)  For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

(Proverbs 16:3)  Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established.

(Luke 12:22-34)  And He said to His disciples, For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! 25 And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? 26 If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.
33 Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

eschatology, The Two Witnesses (Rev.11:1-18)

There are two main things which will happen during the first half of the Tribulation.

One of the things is that the Antichrist (the Beast) will rise to power and allow the Israelites to build a temple to worship there, but only under his supervision.  We will see later that the Beast, at the halfway point, will set himself up in the temple as the only one to be worshiped...

(Revelation 11:1-2)  Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.

Also during the first half of the Tribulation, God will send out two very bold witnesses, who are prophesied about in Zechariah 4:11-14.  Because of the evil in the world, they will be given powers, reminiscent of the powers given to Elijah and Moses...

(Revelation 11:3-6)  And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.

Then at the halfway point of the Tribulation, the Beast will kill the two witnesses.  And in a classic-Satan-type-move, he will mock Jesus' death as well as the Christmas celebrations of His birth.  But God will display His power in a unique way to get the people's attention...

(Revelation 11:7-13)  When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. 10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. 13 And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

This marks the end of the first half of the Tribulation...

(Revelation 11:14)  The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly.

Today's takeaway:  people will mock God, but then interestingly they will turn around and mimic something of the truth in attempts to find redemption and fulfillment in life.  Yesterday I saw a documentary on Hinduism.  Every twelve years, these people will travel to the Shipra River which has been deemed holy.  By washing themselves in the holy water of this river, they believe it washes away their sins. 

They know there's a problem which needs fixing, but believe they only have to rely on themselves.  They are trying to fix a spiritual problem with a physical solution;  but our spiritual problem - can only be fixed through Christ alone...

(Romans 8:1-11)  Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.