Thursday, August 15, 2013

Redemption Songs

"And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."
Revelation 5:13

A very interesting pattern appears as the songs of Revelation 4 and 5 are compared.  In order to do the comparison, let's look at who is singing and what the theme of the song seems to be as we identify each outburst of worship.  

1.  Revelation 4:8 "And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."

     A.  Who is singing?  Angels
     B.  What is their focus?  God the holy and eternal one

2.  Revelation 4:10-11 "The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."  

     A.  Who is singing?  Angels and the 24 elders
     B.  What is their focus?  God the Creator who is worthy of praise

3.  Revelation 5:8-10 "And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

     A.  Who is singing?  Angels, the 24 elders who are offering the prayers of the saints
     B.  What is their focus?  Christ, the Lamb of God has redeemed us

4.  Revelation 5:11-12 "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing."

     A.  Who is singing?  The angels, the 24 elders, and an innumerable host of those redeemed
     B.  What is their focus?  Christ, who by His sacrifice, is worthy of exaltation

5. Revelation 5:13 "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever. "

     A.  Who is singing?  Every creature in the universe
     B.  What is their theme? Jesus Christ is LORD reigning forever!      C.  He is then worshiped forever by the 24 elders

Overall, these songs are spelling out the Revelation of Jesus Christ and God's plan for the ages.  We start with a brief picture of God worshiped in eternity by the angels.  Yet, notice the angel's description.  They are the face of a lion, ox, man, and eagle.  These are the shadows of the gospels.  More on this later.

From there we are joined by the 24 elders as representatives of creation and God the creator is honored and praised.  However, things change at the beginning of chapter 5 as we see an interruption to the worship of God.  What has happened?  The creation has fallen from God and no redeemer who can reconcile God and man can be found.  What a tragedy!  John is seen weeping in Heaven at this time as he considers this tragic scenario.  However, he doesn't weep long nor are the prayers of those who would seek God's righteousness ignored.  Christ our King has prevailed as the imperishable lamb of God!

After this, those who love Him, the Redeemed, sing a song of praise and proclaim Jesus to be worshiped above all.  He is the Ascended, Exalted, and Glorified sole Redeemer of Mt. Calvary.  

Finally, all creation joins in as the crowd has steadily built to include every knee, even those under the earth, as every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is LORD.  This is the crescendo of praise as all join in.  Won't it be glorious to see satan bow and confess Jesus Christ as LORD and King.  It's coming!  but only the redeemed will be left to sing His praise for eternity.  Christ Wins!  He is the Amen and last word!  Glory to the LAMB who is a LION!  Of course what began in eternity ends in eternity.  Remember the angels of the 1st song?  God purposed salvation before the foundation of the earth.  And Christ the eternal one has brought that plan to fruition!

5 songs--the number and story of grace!  Blessings

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Are You Rapture Ready?

And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.
2 Kings 2:1-2
The story of Elijah's translation is chock full of meaning.  It is one of those uplifting portions of scripture that remind us of the catching away of the bride of Christ as this is the second "catching away" found in the Bible (Enoch being the first).  In short, this is also a picture of the twofold coming of Christ in that Elisha comes back across the Jordan doubly anointed.  These men comprise the shadow of Christ's prophetic ministry being two-fold (Aaron and Eleazar at Aaron's death type Christ's two-fold priestly ministry while David and Solomon type His ministry as King of Kings. In each case, the second one had a greater ministry.)  You think Jesus was greatly anointed in His first appearance, just wait until He returns as the Lion of Judah.  Sorry!  Getting excited!!  This very real story of the rapture of Elijah should inspire us all, but did you notice what the prophet did before the event?  He visited 4 places:  Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho, and Jordan.  Why?  He was showing us that He was ready to go at a moments notice!

2 Kings 2:1 as shown above tells us that as Elijah perceived the coming of the LORD for him was near, he went to Gilgal.  This was the place of fulfilled promise!  A lot of great things happened to the nation of Israel here. It was the first place they encountered when they came into the land of promise as they entered by the miracle of the Jordan being rolled back.  Gilgal means "a rolling away," so we read this,"And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day."  How far did the waters roll back?  Joshua 3:16 says all the way to Adam.  Jesus is our Gilgal!  His atoning sacrifice, which we trust alone, rolled our sin away all the way back to Adam.  Bless the Lamb!!

You see, Gilgal was the place where the Jordan was dried.  For those who simply trust Jesus by faith, death's power has been dried up.  This is where the nation renewed the covenant by circumcising all of the men who had been born in the wilderness.  This seems to be the place where people break down, but our reasonable response to such a gracious act as the atoning death of Christ should be to wholly offer ourselves that God may glorified in our lives.  Next, the manna dried up as they began to eat the fruit of the land at Gilgal.  This speaks of obtaining the promises of God and feeding on them.  Finally, at Gilgal, Joshua had 12 stones placed as a memorial of God's fulfilled promises.  Elijah may have even visited this very place as a reminder of the grace of God that makes us ready for the rapture.  Have you experienced this place of promise in Christ?

Elijah then went from Gilgal to Bethel.  This is the place of relationship.  The first time we encounter Bethel in scripture is when the LORD appears to Abraham, the friend of God, in Genesis 12 and gives the promises of being a great nation through whom all of the earth will be blessed.   This is where Abraham returns to offer sacrifice after his sojourn in Egypt during the famine.  Bethel, which means "house of God" is also the place the Jacob dedicates his life to God when he sees the ladder into Heaven.  Bethel speaks of dwelling with GOD in an ongoing abiding relationship.  It, then, seems significant that Elijah took time to visit this place of relationship as God prepared him for his departure.  These pictures are  literally the  promises concerning the cross of Christ from which we obtain salvation and through which we receive a relationship with God, like Abraham, by faith.There is nothing more important in this life than your personal relationship with God in Christ.  Have you accepted Him and entered into His house?

Jericho is the next stop.  This is the place of a walk of faith and witness.  For 7 days the people marched around this city looking at how seemingly impregnable and foreboding its walls were.  But on that 7th day after that 7th silent march around Jericho, they let out a victory shout of faith and the LORD brought the walls crashing down.  Faith in the promises of God brought the victory.  However, this is not the only event of note here as faith always brings the presence of Christ as a witness.  Where?  There was a woman in this town whose life was less than a stellar example of righteousness.  However, the witness of the Israelites began to tug at her heart. Hebrews 11:31 gives us the specifics, "By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace."  It is certain that a walk of faith always brings a witness to a lost world.  Also, it is important to note that Jesus as a man is a direct descendant of Rahab.  He was there saving even the worst by grace through faith!  Elijah surely reviewed his walk of faith to prepare for Heaven.

The prophet then went to Jordan--the place of death.  The funny thing about salvation is that in order to escape death we must die.  What?  Listen to Jesus from Luke 9:24, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."  Elijah's last stop came to the very place the journey started, the Jordan.  Gilgal was on the banks of Jordan.  Jordan, which means "descender" is that place where we die to self and raise in newness of life by faith.

Are you ready for the LORD's return?  Accept His pardon by faith and begin a relationship with Christ.  Walk daily by faith as you die to self.  Simply trust the LORD to do what you yourself cannot do.  Trust the Savior Jesus so that when He does come soon, you too will go to be with Him.  Remember, He is Soon2Come.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lost Something? There Is A Place To Find It!

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Revelation 3:19

In the prior post, Lost Something,  it was noted that of the 7 churches, 5 had received rebuke from the LORD. Also, the concept that there was a sense of progressive steps towards apostasy considered.  Epehesus was seen as unloving.  Pergamos fell into accommodating false doctrine.  Thyratira compromised wholly with worldliness.  Sardis was unable to correctly witness to the world due to their dead spirituality, and Laodicea was terribly apathetic.  Let's look just a bit more at this pattern again.

Ephesus was the church with a heart problem.  Their love for Christ was not center place anymore, yet automaton service for the LORD went on.  There is nothing, NOTHING more important in your life than a loving relationship with God.  How many folks are there that attend church, host Bible studies, or work excessively in the fields, yet they have become like the brother of the prodigal son?  Conversely, those who have a deep passion for Christ just live the Word, no questions.  How fervent is your love?  Is there any sign of a heart problem in your devotion?

Pergamos was the church with the head problem.  They began to corrupt the pure teaching of God's word and replace it with men's opinions.  They already were not listening to the Spirit of God nor the Word of God.  It is certain that those who always wish to change the Bible are already suffering from a heart problem.  This has carried over into a severe head cold.  The whole body is getting ill as the virus of a lack of personal devotion and prayer has set in.  Isn't this the same with human interaction as well?  Close friends know one another and seek to know more, but when that relationship grows distant, then all sorts of bad thoughts follow.  Look to see if you are closely studying and following the word or are there signs of a head problem?

Thyatira was the church with a walk problem.  When the heart is sick and the head is not thinking clearly then one will more than likely begin to reel and stumble about.  Thyatira stumbled so badly that they allowed gross immorality to set in.  This is best heard from the Word.  "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols (Revelation 2:20)".  It all started with a lack of love and has now descended to evil in the house of GOD!  Look at your walk and see if there are signs of problems.

Sardis was the dead church.  "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead," Jesus said.  What much more can be said at this point.  One who is sick inside and  out and from top to bottom is in serious shape.

Laodicea is not only dead but they are putrefying.  They smell like the world and Christ is not even welcome.  In the midst of this there is hope.  Nothing the LORD says nor does is done with spite, malice, or ill will.  He always has redemption on His mind.  To all of the erring churches Jesus gave the prescription--repent.  Turn around and head in the right direction!  No wonder the devil hates to hear someone use this word!  Liberal preachers sure would not use it nor see it necessary, and yet Jesus did.  What do the gospels tell us is the first message Jesus preached after He returned in the Power of the Spirit from the wilderness?  "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17)."  Don't listen to those who say that a repentant life is not necessary.  Listen to Jesus!

In short, the LORD will turn things around for us.  He will heat our heart with ardent love.  You see, 
to be salt and light you need your heart right, your head fed, your walk straight, alive in Christ and zealously burning for the LAMB who died for you. May the LORD bless you!  Remember, He is Soon2Come!