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Showing posts from February, 2020

Meeting Jesus in the Air

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Paul reassured the Thessalonians regarding the participation of dead saints in the arrival of Jesus from heaven  –  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 .  In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul reassured the congregation about the participation of fellow saints who die before the “ arrival ” of Jesus   in the glories of that day.   BOTH  dead and living saints will assemble to “ meet ” him, and thereafter both will be with him “ forevermore .” Dead believers will be resurrected, and together with those still alive, all will meet the Lord as he descends from heaven - [ Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash ].

Crown of Boasting

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If the Thessalonians emulate the apostolic example, they will receive the “crown of glory” at Christ's return  –  1 Thessalonians 2:1-20 .  Opposition from the synagogue had compelled Paul to leave Thessalonica prematurely. Though initially, some members of that group had welcomed his message, they turned against him once large numbers of Gentiles began to embrace the gospel. And even after he left the city, some of the synagogue leaders pursued him as he preached elsewhere in Macedonia - [ Crown Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash ].

Seventh Seal - Silence

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At the end of the seventh seal, seven angels prepare to sound their trumpets, unleashing judgment on the “inhabitants of the earth”  –  Revelation 8:1-6 .  The saints have been “ sealed ,” washed “ in the blood of the Lamb ,” and brought safely through the “ great tribulation .” The full complement of “ witnesses ” has been numbered and assembled, and the time has arrived for judgment to be rendered against the “ inhabitants of the earth ” that persecuted the martyrs. Their plea for “ vengeance ” is about to be answered - [ Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash ].

Innumerable Servants of God

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SYNOPSIS  –  Next, John now sees the sealed servants of God as an innumerable multitude from all nations “standing” before the Lamb  –  Revelation 7:9-17 .  In the vision recorded in chapter 7, the “ servants of God ” are sealed, then portrayed with two different images - The “ twelve tribes of Israel ” assembled for travel, and the “ innumerable multitude standing ” before the “ Lamb ” and the Throne at the center of the Cosmos. The imagery is drawn from the story of ancient Israel in the Wilderness and its sojourn from Egypt to the Promised Land. - [ Mount Rainier - Photo by  Devin H  on Unsplash ].

Number of the Sealed

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SYNOPSIS  -  144,000 males from the tribes of Israel are numbered and assembled for the journey to the Promised Land  –  Revelation 7:4-8 .  The “ sealing of God’s servants ” follows a literary pattern set in the fifth chapter with the introduction of the “ lion of the tribe of Judah ,” the “ slain Lamb .” What John “ sees ” interprets what he first “ hears .” In the next two paragraphs, first, he “ hears ” the “ number ” of the “ sealed servants ,” 144,000 males from the “ twelve tribes of Israel ,” then he “ sees ” an assembly of men and women from every nation far too numerous to count. - [ Photo by  Sangga Rima Roman Selia  on Unsplash ].

Sixth Seal - Day of Wrath

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The sixth seal ushered in the Day of the Lord, the time of wrath upon the inhabitants of the earth  –  Revelation 6:12-17 .  T he opening of the sixth seal causes celestial and terrestrial trauma as the “ day of wrath ” dawns. It was nothing less than the “ great day of the wrath of God and of the Lamb .” Men of every rank panic in terror, but their every attempt to hide from the impending “ wrath ” is in vain. There is no escape, for no one can “ stand ” before the “ Lamb and the throne .” - [ Photo by Stefano Zocca on Unsplash ].

Fifth Seal - Martyrs

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The fifth seal revealed the souls of martyrs kept underneath the altar where they pleaded with God for vindication and justice  –  Revelation 6:9-11 .  The opening of the fifth seal reveals the souls of the martyrs “ underneath ” the altar. There, they plead with God for vindication for what they have endured at the hands of their enemies. But they are told to wait for justice until the complete number of their “ fellow servants ” who are to be slain, “ just as they ,” are gathered to join them - [ Photo by Madhu Madhavan on Unsplash ].

First Four Seals - Aftermath

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The first four seal openings occurred under the watchful eye of the “Lamb” and the “four living creatures” around the “throne”  –  Revelation 6:8 .  Collectively, the four “ riders ” were authorized to kill “ a fourth of the earth .” Each seal was “ opened ” by the “ Lamb ,” and each respective “ rider ” was commanded to ride by one of the “ four living creatures ” that surrounded the “ throne .” The forces released by the first four seals resulted from the “ Lamb ” breaking open the seven “ seals ” of the scroll - [ Photo by David Wheater on Unsplash ].

Lamb and Messiah

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In Revelation, Jesus began his Messianic Reign on the Throne of God following his Death and Resurrection  –  Revelation 5:6-10 .  The  book of Revelation  assures the beleaguered congregations of Asia that Jesus is reigning now and has events firmly under his control, despite appearances and hostility from the surrounding society. His exaltation and kingly authority are based on his past Death and Resurrection, which marked the commencement of his reign from the messianic “ throne .” - [ Photo by Nathan Jennings on Unsplash ].

Seven Seals - Overview

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Upon his arrival before the Throne, immediately the Lamb began to open the seven seals of the sealed scroll .  Often the forces unleashed by the “ seven seals ” are linked to the horrific calamities many expect to occur before the return of Jesus, and especially so with the first four seal openings, popularly described as the “ four horsemen of the Apocalypse .” Supposedly, with His patience exhausted, God plagues rebellious humanity in a last-ditch effort to bring men to repentance - [ Photo by Zoya Loonohod on Unsplash ] .

Absent Church?

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In its entirety, Revelation is a message for, to, and about the church, the people of God, and concerns its situation on the earth  –  Revelation 4:1-3 .  After Jesus finished dictating his letters to the “ seven churches ,” John saw an “ open door in heaven ” and heard the trumpet-like voice from his first vision summoning him to “ come up here .” Next, he found himself standing before the “ throne set in heaven .” Does this image symbolize the physical removal of the church from the earth prior to the rest of the remaining visions of the book? - [ Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash ].

Why do the Nations Rage?

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In the New Testament, the conspiracy of the kings of the earth to destroy the Son is applied to the plot to slay Jesus  –  Psalm 2:1-6 .  The second Psalm is a key messianic prophecy that is applied to Jesus consistently in the New Testament. But precisely when were the predictions from the Psalm fulfilled? Has the Messiah been installed on the Throne of David, or is this prediction still waiting for a future fulfillment? What about the “ rage ” of the nations against Yahweh’s “ anointed one ”? - [ Stormy Sea Photo by  Barth Bailey  on Unsplash ].

Throne and the Sealed Scroll

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SYNOPSIS :  The central figure of the book is the freshly slain Lamb who alone has the authority to open the Sealed Scroll, beginning with its seven seals - Revelation 4:1-5:14.  By Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash The scene in chapters 4 and 5 is the theological center of the book of Revelation and sets the stage for all that follows. Through a paradoxical victory, the sacrificial Lamb is crowned sovereign over the Cosmos. This next scene is connected to the preceding seven letters by verbal links. The final verse of the letter to Laodicea transitions the letters-section to the vision of the Throne, which marks the start of a new literary unit that will continue through the end of the series of Seven Bowls of Fury ( Revelation 16:17-21 ).

Kept from the Hour

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The “hour of trial” will come upon the whole habitable earth, but overcoming saints will not experience this final judicial act  –  Revelation 3:10 .  Jesus promised to “ keep ” the faithful church of Philadelphia “ from the hour of trial ” that was coming upon the “ inhabitants of the earth .” A comparison with similar passages demonstrates this “ hour of trial ” refers to the time of final judgment when those whose names “ are not written in the Lamb’s book of life ” experience the “ second death ,” the “ lake of fire that burns with brimstone .” - [ Photo by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash ].

Nicolaitans

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The “Nicolaitans” encouraged believers to compromise with the idolatrous rites of the surrounding pagan society, including its imperial cult .  The seven letters to the “ churches of Asia ” commend faithfulness and endurance, expose sin, correct shortcomings, and provide promises to all saints who persevere in testimony, and thereby, “ overcome .” Several groups of deceivers are active within the congregations, the “ Nicolaitans , those who “ have the teaching of Balaam ,” and the followers of the “ prophetess Jezebel .” - [ Augustus - Photo by tommao wang on Unsplash ].

Churches of Philadelphia and Laodicea

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Photo by  Puk Patrick  on  Unsplash Philadelphia  ( Revelation 3:7-13 ): The city of  Philadelphia  lay fifty kilometers southeast of Sardis and between it and Laodicea. It straddled a major road into the interior; trade with other regions was vital to its economic life. Philadelphia was established as a city around in 189 B.C. by Eumenés II, king of Pergamos. He named it in honor of his brother and successor,  Attalus II . The city came under Roman rule when the last king, Attalus III, bequeathed Pergamos to Rome in his will (133 B.C.).

Churches of Thyatira and Sardis

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By Cristina Gottardi on  Unsplash Thyatira : The  city of Thyatira  was situated fifty-five kilometers southeast of Pergamos and eighty kilometers inland. Its proximity to Pergamos explains why the doctrines of the Nicolaitans also infiltrated this group. Christianity reached Thyatira at an early stage, but the details of those distant events remain unknown.

Churches at Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamos

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Photo by  Jon Flobrant  on  Unsplash The First Three Letters to the Churches : The first three exhortations form a distinct unit. This is indicated by the order of the concluding exhortation and the promise at the end of each message (to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum). Each “letter” ends with the exhortation, “ hear what the Spirit is saying .” This is followed by a promise - to the “ one who overcomes .” This literary sequence is reversed in the final four letters to Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

Seven Churches - Introduction

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The visitation of Jesus to the Seven Churches prepares the reader for the visions that follow the letters to the churches of Asia .  In his vision, John saw a glorious figure “ like a Son of Man…in the midst of seven golden lampstands .” In the interpretation, it became clear that this was Jesus (“ I was dead, and I am alive forevermore ”), and the “ lampstands ” were identified as the “ seven churches ” that were under his ever-watchful care - [ Photo by  Ken Cheung  on  Unsplash ].

Fourfold Structure of Revelation

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The  book of Revelation  consists of a prologue, the vision proper, and an epilogue. The vision itself falls into four recognizable divisions, each commencing with John finding himself “ in the spirit ” where he receives visions in specific locations. For example, the first vision began with John on the isle of Patmos where he “ came to be in spirit ” and saw a vision of the one “ like a son of man .” - [ Photo by João Silas on Unsplash ].