Monday, February 25, 2013

"Is 'Revelation' really a mystery?"

"And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ."   - Ephesians 1:9-10

We are now eight weeks into our study of "the end."  As we continue to explore God's Word to discover all that He has revealed concerning the events surrounding the return of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God continues to show us that John's "Revelation" is not the mystery many thought it was.  When Revelation is studied alongside other Scriptures, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, God's timetable, the signs of Jesus' soon return, and the events directly associated with it become clear.  Those things that we do not yet understand, God will reveal in the future, as we continue to ask for wisdom and as we believe all that He has revealed thus far.

The verses quoted above were part of message number eight, that looked at Chapters 10-14 of Revelation.  This is what I have called the "interlude" in John's visions of the end.  When comparing Matthew 24:1-31 with Revelation 6-7, it is clear that these are parallel passages and that Revelation 6-7, and the following two chapters, 8-9, are chronological.  The events flow from Revelation 6 through Revelation 9 without a break.

Chapter 9 ends with the sounding of the sixth trumpet, which is the second "woe" (Revelation 8:13).  Chapter 10 and the first part of Chapter 11 (verses 1-13), are separate visions, then Chapter 11:14-19 continues the timeline with the sounding of the seventh trumpet:  "The second woe (the sixth trumpet) has passed; the third woe (the seventh trumpet) is coming soon. ... The seventh angel sounded his trumpet ..."  John's interlude includes Chapters 12-14.  Then follows Chapters 15-16, the seven bowls of God's wrath.  This takes place following the sounding of the seventh trumpet.

I share this here to help you see that the God who revealed these things through His Son Jesus Christ and His Spirit wants us to understand them!  These things were not written to be unintelligible to those who believe.  Remember, "ALL Scripture is profitable!" (II Timothy 3:16), and Revelation is part of Scripture.  In the tenth chapter of Revelation, verse 7, we read, "In the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as He announced to His servants the prophets."

A "mystery" is something that is or has been hidden.  "Revelation" means, literally, "uncovering or revealing."  So what was it that God revealed to the prophets, but that has been a mystery to most people to this very day and continues to be?  The Apostle Paul was a Pharisee before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and was born again by the Spirit of God.  His eyes were opened and the Scriptures of the Old Testament that he had studied all his life became clear:  God had a plan and that plan was being fulfilled through His Son, Jesus Christ!!

What was the plan?  Are you ready for this?!  To bring the kingdom of God to a new earth!!  "To bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ!" (Ephesians 1:10).  This is what is revealed throughout the New Testament and finally in the book of Revelation.  How few people understand this today - even in the visible church?  We may be the last generation on this planet, yet few seem to be proclaiming the truth about what lies ahead!  Jesus Christ is returning to earth, and He will gather His Church, He will bring salvation to Israel, He will pour out God's wrath on unbelievers and He will establish His kingdom on this earth for 1,000 years, ruling over the nations with a rod of iron, and finally, will cast Satan and all his demons and all who reject His reign into the eternal fire of hell.  Then God will create a new heaven and a new earth and will live with those who have believed in Jesus Christ forever in a new world!!

The is the "mystery" that the prophets spoke about and that Jesus is fulfilling now in the lives of those who are truly His - who have been born again by His Spirit and who confess Him as Savior and Lord - and that He will fulfill completely when He returns.  This is the future that God has planned for His people.  So why is the only thing people look forward to "heaven?"  It's not that heaven is not enough; it would be, if that is all that God has promised us.  But there is so much more!

Paul writes to the Corinthians, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him ..." (I Corinthians 2:9).  That is a quote from Isaiah 64:4, and in the context of those comments Isaiah speaks about God's creation of a new heaven and a new earth!! (Isaiah 65:17).  Paul goes on to say to the believers in Corinth, " - but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit!" (I Corinthians 2:10).  Yes, God has revealed to those who believe and who study His Word that the establishment of His kingdom in a new heaven and a new earth is the final goal of all that is happening in the world today.  And it is in John's Revelation that God's plan comes to its final conclusion!!

It is vital that the Church understand these things and that those who know Christ become engaged in proclaiming His reign - now from heaven, and soon on the earth!  People need to know the true God who has revealed Himself and His will in His Word.  These things are important for families and communities and nations to grasp.  The wrath of God is coming on this world and there is ONE escape:  faith in Jesus Christ, the only Savior, the eternal Son of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords!

Are you one of HIS?  Have you come to the Father through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, believing He suffered God's wrath against YOUR sins on the cross and that your sins are forgiven?  Have you been born again by His Holy Spirit so that your desire now is to honor and glorify Him and to tell others the truth of the one true God revealed in the Bible, His Word?  Difficult days lie ahead for planet earth and all who live upon it.  In John's Revelation, as well as the rest of the Bible, God makes known His plan and His purposes to all who will believe.  The mystery has been revealed!!  God's kingdom is coming to earth!  Will you face His judgment and wrath or will you rest in His love and grace, living with Him in a new world FOREVER?!

I pray earnestly for you, as you read these words, and urge you to read God's Word, to study it, to meditate on it and to find in it the one and only Savior who is able to bring you out of darkness to behold His marvelous light - Jesus Christ!  If you know Him and your heart's desire is to serve Him, then spread His Word, for "how beautiful on the mountaintops are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace (REAL peace - with God!), who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'" (Isaiah 52:7).

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