Wednesday, April 6, 2011

REVELATION PROMISES BLESSINGS

BLESSED IS HE

 Revelation 1:3--“Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”

I’ve already covered many of the truths from verse 3 in my note “REVELATION STUDY--INTRODUCTION.”   I'll re-emphasize some of these important instructions, and add a few details that I didn't cover in the earlier post.

For starters, Revelation 1:3 is the FIRST of seven beatitudes that we'll encounter in this fascinating book.  THE BLESSING GIVEN HERE IS UNIQUE, as I noted before.  Nowhere else in the Bible, not even in the Gospels, does the Word promise such a SPECIAL BLESSING to the person who reads it.

I showed, that elsewhere in the scripture, we are exhorted to read and study the word, and offered the example of Psalm 119 (the longest Psalm).  This Psalm focuses upon the importance of meditating upon, keeping the word--and storing it in our hearts.   But Psalm 119 DOES NOT declare a “special blessing” to the one who reads it.

Revelation is UNIQUE and EXTRAORDINARY, as we all know.  We can be assured that we'll derive something wonderful and absolutely astonishing as we take the time to read it, hear it, and keep it.

Revelation 1:3 tells us that the book should be READ.  It also says that people need to HEAR it--meaning this book should be READ OUT LOUD in the Churches, or in our homes.  But that's NOT all! 

There's a deeper spiritual meaning.  “Hearing” the word implies UNDERSTANDING it, COMPREHENDING it, LEARNING from it.   It's OBVIOUS that Revelation is a book which is NOT secret.  It's NOT so complex that it becomes undecipherable!  The book is written for the purpose of being understood.

We are exhorted in this beatitude to KEEP the word.  In the process of reading, hearing and understanding it, we must also KEEP it.  “Keep” is derived from a Greek word which means “to guard from loss or injury.”   It’s to KEEP in the manner of “keeping your eyes upon it.”  This concept is better understood as “maintaining” the words that are written--to hold them fast, to keep them within our hearts and minds.

By doing all of these things--reading, hearing and keeping--we WILL obtain the blessing which is promised here.

In THE INTRODUCTION, I mentioned the kinds of blessings we can expect as we study the book of Revelation.  I’ll re-emphasize this, because it’s so awesome and important.

First of all, we can expect COMFORT.

The comfort comes as we see evil conquered and the ULTIMATE VICTORY of Jesus.   Better yet, Christ’s VICTORY is OUR VICTORY (if we have made Jesus our Savior and Lord)!

Secondly, we KNOW and UNDERSTAND, by this prophecy, what IS COMING.

To be forewarned is to BE PREPARED.  We should NOT be frightened about all the terrible calamities that are prophesied to hit God’s enemies and the world.  This warning is given so we can be steady and firm, and by our knowledge of the prophecy, we will NOT be shocked, dismayed, perplexed or worried about those things we see happening around us.   We KNOW that there will be VICTORY.  We KNOW that God has made provisions for the SAFETY of His people.   We will NOT be forgotten or abandoned.  God will lift us up.   He will surround us with His presence, even in the midst of most horrifying events as the Tribulation period approaches!

We will be able to LIFT UP OUR HEADS and REJOICE.

We’ll understand how God is PERFORMING His word, that He WILL INDEED FINISH His plan for the current world system.  Better yet, we KNOW that He will establish a RESTORED world, where suffering is done and death is defeated.

As we see these prophecies BEGIN to unfold around us, WE’RE INSPIRED to work all the harder to spread the Gospel.  We'll grow diligent in sharing Jesus with others, so that as many people as possible WILL NOT perish in the coming judgments.

All these things are good and commendable blessings.

But most of all, as we really dig into the study of Revelation, we will be taken on a trip ALL OVER THE BIBLE.  We'll see that Revelation is indeed a LENS through which ALL the rest of the Bible is focused.  To know and understand how ALL of God’s Word entwines and supports itself is the MOST POWERFUL blessing of all.  We can SEE that God’s Holy Book is SUPERNATURAL.  No other book is like it!


EXAMPLE:  HOW THE BIBLE IS LIKE NO OTHER BOOK

We'll take a quick peek at Noah, the Ark he was commanded to build, and how DETAILS of that story relate to RESURRECTION.

When the ark landed on the mountains of Ararat, after the flood (Genesis 8:4), that landing signaled a NEW world, a NEW BIRTH for the creation, a NEW life for Noah, his family and all of the animals which were with him.

The account of Noah, the ark and the flood, tells us that the ark RESTED on Ararat on the 17th day of the SEVENTH month (which was Abib--a springtime month).  When we continue reading the Old Testament, and arrive at the book of Exodus, we find that the calendar of Noah’s day was changed.  This happened when Moses led Israel out of bondage to Egypt. (See Exodus 12:3 and Exodus 13:4.  The SEVENTH month of Noah’s day BECAME the FIRST MONTH at the time of Moses.  Then in Esther 3:7, we find that the month of Abib was renamed Nisan.)

Here's a link to an article that explains the change in the calendar:  http://gracethrufaith.com/childrens-stories-for-adults/noah-and-the-flood-part-3-hidden-in-plain-sight/

By applying this understanding--(going back to the calendar in the DAYS OF NOAH)--we can accurately say that the NEW world AFTER THE FLOOD actually STARTED on the 17th day of the FIRST MONTH (which was NO LONGER the seventh month--AFTER the change).  Therefore, the ark RESTED on Ararat on the 17th day of the FIRST MONTH.

What does this mean?  We need to dig a little deeper.

The FIRST month of the Jewish religious calendar is called Nisan (renamed that in Esther 3:7).  What is the significance of the 17th of that month?  It's the SAME DAY that Noah’s ark rested, bringing a NEW birth upon the post-flood world!

In the FIRST Jewish month, Nisan, Passover is celebrated.  Passover commemorates Israel SET FREE from their Egyptian captivity at the time of Moses.  The children of Israel celebrated the Passover Feast on the 14th of Nisan--and a little later that same evening, the death angel PASSED OVER Israel’s camp.  Those who had applied THE BLOOD of the sacrificed lamb to the door posts and lintels WERE SAVED as the death angel killed the firstborn all over Egypt. (Exodus 12:22-24.  Exodus 12:29-32.)

On the 14th of Nisan, Jesus became THE PASSOVER LAMB.   He died on the cross on THAT VERY SAME DAY--which to human eyes--was a MOST AWFUL day.  But LIKE the blood of the sacrificed lamb in the days of Moses, which SAVED the lives of those in Israel who applied THAT BLOOD to door posts and lintels--SO ALSO, the BLOOD of the crucified LAMB OF GOD, Jesus, saves people who apply HIS BLOOD to their hearts and lives by accepting that HIS DEATH SAVED THEM.

There’s so much more about Egypt, Moses, the Passover--so many rich and wonderful details which correspond to what God and Jesus performed on that very same day--the 14th of Nisan.  Egypt is a type of the world, a wicked world, in which people are trapped in bondage.  Pharaoh is a type of the devil, who keeps the captives under his mean and punishing rule. Moses is a type of SAVIOR, who set the captives free.  The sacrificed lamb is a type of Jesus, Who had to die--His blood had to be shed, in order for God’s people to be saved and set free.

Now, what is the significance of the 17th of Nisan?

Remember that Israel celebrates PASSOVER on the 14th of Nisan.  And Jesus died on that VERY SAME DAY.  Get ready for goosebumps!

The 17th day of Nisan is THREE DAYS after Passover!  Jesus ROSE FROM THE DEAD on the THIRD DAY, according to the scriptures, and it happened on the 17th of Nisan!

Back to Genesis--to WHEN the ark rested on Ararat:

The ark coming to rest on the 17th day of Abib/Nisan brought a NEW world, a NEW birth of creation, a NEW life for Noah and his family after the flood.  It was LIKE a resurrection!  On the 17th of Nisan, Jesus rose from the dead, and He brought forth NEW LIFE and RESURRECTED SPIRITS for ALL who will put their faith in Him, and ask Him to dwell in their hearts.  Jesus ROSE FROM THE DEAD--on Nisan 17--centuries and centuries after the ark rested--ON THE VERY SAME DAY!  ALL OF IT'S A PICTURE OF "RESURRECTION"!

The Bible is an AWESOME book--so many nuggets of truth to mine, so many deep and wonderful treasures to discover.


TYING UP THREADS

In Revelation 1:3, I left TWO THREADS DANGLING which I want to complete, before proceeding further in this study.

(You may feel that we're moving very, very slowly--but like "kings" who carefully chew and relish a delicious banquet, we'll NOT rush though this book.)

One loose thread concerns the IMPORTANT FOCUS of this study--which is indeed a PROPHECY.  Revelation 1:3 states so unequivocally…“they that hear the words of this PROPHECY…” (Yes, I covered this issue in my note “REVELATION STUDY--INTRODUCTION,” but I want to take the time to re-emphasize this truth.)

This phrase in Revelation 1:3 makes it very clear, BEYOND A DOUBT, that Revelation IS A PROPHECY.  Do you recall what I pointed out in “GOLDEN RULES OF INTERPRETATION?”  When the PLAIN sense of what is written in scripture makes PERFECT SENSE, then seek no other sense.

This will save us a lot of time.  We do not need to be caught up in endless and fruitless discussions over whether this book is an ALLEGORY or a HISTORY.

We don’t need to argue about whether Revelation is just a SYMBOL of the ultimate victory of good over evil.  Indeed, victory over evil is shown in Revelation, but that VICTORY is TOTALLY FOCUSED upon the PROPHETIC WORD of HOW it will happen.

We don’t need to argue over whether Revelation is just a PICTURE of what the early Church had to endure.  The details given in Revelation PROVE that this book is much MORE than the early Church’s struggle with the Roman Empire.  In fact, the Church Age is pictured ENTIRELY within the FIRST THREE CHAPTERS, and the REMAINDER of Revelation covers details which happen in "THE HEREAFTER" (the literal definition) “after these things”--AFTER the THINGS of the Church Age.

To try to squeeze Revelation so that it FITS as JUST an ALLEGORY, or just as EARLY CHURCH HISTORY, or just as THE HISTORY OF THE PAST 2000 YEARS--requires some SERIOUS JUGGLING of the scripture to make these ideas comply.  The EVENTS that happened during the EARLY CHURCH, or the events of the past 2000 years, CANNOT be FORCED into the exact wording of the Revelation!  It's simply NOT what God intended for this most amazing book.

Revelation is EXACTLY what it says it is--A PROPHECY.  Revelation PROPHESIES the Church Age in chapters two and three.  It PROPHESIES the things that happen AFTER the Church Age from chapter four onwards.

What is soon to happen on the earth?

Revelation’s PROPHECY shows us WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN in POWERFUL and UNEQUIVOCAL warnings, signs, symbols and events.  It accurately portrays WHAT IS YET TO TRANSPIRE.  Prophecy is HISTORY--WRITTEN IN ADVANCE.  The FUTURE events WILL occur EXACTLY in the way God tells us it will happen!  God knows the BEGINNING and THE END--and EVERYTHING WHICH HAPPENS in between.  That’s why Jesus is called THE ALPHA AND OMEGA-- the A and the Z--the beginning and the end.

The First Coming of Jesus was PROPHESIED in powerful detail in the Old Testament.  Those prophecies are scattered (like golden nuggets) throughout the scripture.  Every JOT (dotted i) and every TITTLE (crossed t) WAS FULFILLED by the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ--down to the tiniest detail.  There are multitudes of prophecies about the first coming of Jesus (too many to list here--I counted 54 SPECIFIC prophecies in a book that I own--and am NOT taking the time to fully RESEARCH this.)

BUT I want to bring out a point.  By applying laws of probability that ALL these prophecies would be fulfilled in EVERY detail, the CHANCE that this would RANDOMLY transpire is ASTRONOMICAL!!!!

The chance that ALL these prophecies would come true in EVERY SMALL DETAIL is like having ENOUGH silver dollars to be the EQUIVALENT of ALL the stars in the ALL the galaxies of outer space--TWO MILLION TIMES OVER!  We spread these silver dollars across Texas and they create a layer that’s TWO feet deep.  Now let us image that ONE of the silver dollars is marked.  The chance of ALL these prophecies (of Jesus" FIRST COMING) being fulfilled in EVERY DETAIL is like having a BLIND man DIG into that spread of silver dollars and GRAB (on the first try) the exact one which is marked!

No wonder the Bible is set apart from any other book that’s been written, religious or otherwise!  The Bible is A SUPERNATURAL book, the LIVING WORD of the LIVING God, Who sees the end from the beginning and Who knows EVERYTHING, every DETAIL, of what lies BETWEEN the beginning and the end.  The prophecies which have ALREADY BEEN FULFILLED gives us the CONFIDENCE to KNOW that each and every prophecy which foretells the SECOND COMING of Jesus WILL BE FULFILLED in their smallest details, too.

There's second loose thread covered in Revelation 1:3 (which I touched upon in a previous post, but haven’t yet totally elaborated upon).  This is the phrase…“for the time is at hand.”  John was instructed to record the prophecy that he saw and heard BECAUSE "the time was at hand" for it to begin.

How can that be, since much of the Revelation is FOCUSED so far into the future?  How can the prophecy be READY to begin?

One of the great mysteries of the Church Age is that JESUS SPOKE OF HIS SECOND COMING--AND THAT HE COULD RETURN AT ANY MOMENT.  Believers in the early Church EXPECTED that Jesus could come back at ANY INSTANT.  (Some people deny this, of course, but there's AMPLE RESEARCH DONE in ancient manuscripts which DO INDEED show that the EARLIEST CHURCH FATHERS expected an IMMINENT--at any time--return of Jesus.)

The early Church lived in high anticipation of the Lord’s return.  Read the letters of Paul to the Church at Thessalonica.  Paul elaborated upon details of Jesus’ second coming, plus he needed to correct some misconceptions that the Thessalonians held concerning THE ORDER of events--which will occur DURING Christ’s return.  The early Church lived in HIGH EXPECTATION of Jesus coming back, and that expectation helped SPARK their zeal to share the Gospel far and wide!

At the time of John, the events of Revelation’s prophecy were indeed AT THE BRINK of happening--the time WAS INDEED at hand.

Revelation chapters TWO and THREE are the very START of those prophesied events.  Those chapters SHOW DETAILS of the Age of the Church--from its very start--right up to the VERY END, at the Church's COMPLETION.  So absolutely--THE TIME was accurately “at hand”--READY to commence.

2000 years have flowed under the bridge of time.  How much nearer are WE to SEEING the events of the rest of Revelation unfold?  It’s very near indeed, even at the door.

“And that, knowing the time, that NOW it is HIGH TIME TO AWAKE OUT OF SLEEP: for NOW is our salvation nearer than when we [first] believed.  The night is far spent, the day is at hand:  let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11-12.)

The time is at hand!

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!  We long to see your wonderful face, to bow at Your feet in homage and worship...

ARE YOU READY?  I KNOW I AM!!!!

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