Thursday, December 25, 2014

"And it all comes down to this ... "

Day #363:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - December 26th

Scripture Reading:  Revelation 18 - 22 ...

All most people know of what the Bible teaches concerning the future is that Jesus will return.  Neither the events leading up to His coming nor those which take place afterwards are subjects that most people care about, yet it is here that we see the wisdom of God, the majesty of God, the power of God and the glory of God in its fulness.  It is here that the kingdom of God reaches its culmination as Jesus reigns over all the earth for a thousand years and then God comes to dwell on a new earth in the midst of those who are His people - forever!

But first, evil and everything associated with Satan and his kingdom must be utterly and totally destroyed.  "Babylon the Great" may be a literal city, but also represents all the evil in the world that opposes God and His kingdom.  It is the opposite of the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, that will come to earth.  Chapter 18, verse 2 is actually a quote from Isaiah 21:9:  "Look, here comes a man in a chariot with a team of horses.  And he gives back the answer: 'Babylon has fallen, has fallen!  All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!'"  So now John writes, "Fallen!  Fallen is Babylon the Great! ... the kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries" (18:2-3).

The economic systems at work in our world today occasionally "crash," but at this moment they all crash at the same time.  We have seen glimpses of such a collapse, but this will be orchestrated by God Himself.  The Antichrist and those who follow him have attempted to hold on, to endure, in spite of the rapture of the Church and the worldwide effect of God's judgments, but now they fall.  "In one day her plagues will overtake her; death, mourning and famine.  She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her" (18:8).  So John announces, "Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power!  In one hour your doom has come!" (18:10).  "Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!  In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!" (18:17).  "Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!  Rejoice over her, O heaven!  Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets!  God has judged her for the way she treated you" (18:20).

Those who do not know God, who have not trusted in Jesus Christ, who do not understand sin and salvation and all that God has done in Christ to save His people, don't want to think about judgment or talk about judgment or even believe there will be judgment.  But we who love God, who by His grace have received forgiveness and life through faith in Jesus, long for the defeat of His enemies and ours.  It is not surprising, then, that Chapter 18 is followed by the opening words of Chapter 19:  "After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting, 'Hallelujah!  Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are His judgments!'" (19:1).  The word, "Hallelujah!" is reserved for this moment in time.  It is not found elsewhere in the Bible.  "Praise Jehovah, Yahweh (YHWH), the Great I AM!!"

In heaven the wedding supper of the Lamb is celebrated as the saints and angels gather around the throne.  "For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.  Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear" (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints - 19:8).  The works of the saints have not earned their invitation to the wedding supper of the Lamb, but are rather the result of the Spirit of God within us.  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. FOR we are GOD's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:8-10).  Loving and serving God is the evidence of faith that leads to eternal life in the presence of God.

Now the time has come for Jesus to return to the earth WITH His angelic army to defeat the Antichrist and the False Prophet and all who follow them.  Chapter 19:11-21 gives us some of the details.  And then it begins ... the thousand-year reign of Christ upon the earth that the prophets spoke about ... the time when Jesus, the Christ, God's Anointed (Psalm 2) will reign over all the nations (Zechariah 14) with an iron scepter (Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27, 12:5, 19:15).  Those who were put to death by the Antichrist now reign with Christ as Satan is bound.  This period of time will be a time of vindication for the prophets and the saints, for all who have believed in the one true God, the God of salvation, and His promised Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, the King!  God said it ... so let it be written; so let it be done!!

At the end of the thousand years Satan is released to deceive the nations once more (those who have lived under Christ's reign and yet have not believed in Him), but God sends fire down from heaven (literally) to destroy them and Satan himself is thrown into the lake of burning sulfur where he will be tormented forever and ever.  The final declaration of God's judgment is made public (20:11-15) and then it happens:  the holy city, the new Jerusalem, comes down from heaven and "now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them.  They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.  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" (21:3-5).

Political and religious rulers today speak of a "new world order," but it is not THIS new order they are talking about ... it is Babylon!  Only GOD will bring in this new world order by the power of His Word.  As John sees the city of God he writes, "I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp" (21:22-23).  And notice something else:  "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life" (21:27).

For these, for you who have trusted in Christ Jesus, who have been born again by His Spirit, who have believed in Him for forgiveness and eternal life, THIS is our future!!  " ... the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb ... and on each side of the river stood the tree of life ... No longer will there be any curse.  The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him.  They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.  There will be no more night.  They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.  And they will reign forever and ever!" (22:1-5).

As John sees these visions, Jesus says, "Behold, I am coming soon!  Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book. ...  Behold, I am coming soon!  My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what He has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life" (22:12-13).  Can there be any other response for those who know the Lord Jesus other than, "COME!"?

"The Spirit and the bride says, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the FREE gift of the water of life. ...  AMEN!  Come, Lord Jesus!  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people.  Amen!" (22:17-21).  So it is written, so let it be done!  Everything that is going on in your life and in the world today comes down to this:  do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord?  Have you put your trust in Him?  Have you repented of sin and are you living for Him today, seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness?  This life is temporary, but what lies ahead is eternal ... either eternal life or eternal death.  May the Spirit of God confirm in your heart and your mind that you are His, or may He call you today to lay down your life at His feet and come to know that your name is written in His book of life.

To GOD be the glory, now and forever!!

"O Lord, my God, my Father in heaven, it is with the sure and certain hope of salvation that I come to You, praising You for who You are and thanking You for Your gift of salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ!  Your Word is alive and Your Spirit has given me understanding so that with all who believe in Jesus I KNOW that I have eternal life, a gift received because of Your wonderful grace to me.  Father, in the midst of all that is happening today and all that will happen tomorrow and the future, I place my trust in You, my Savior and my God, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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