Monday, January 23, 2012

"The kingdom of heaven is like a child."

Yesterday I was reminded of one of my favorite stories in the Bible. We have a new family attending our church. This family is made up of a mother and two small girls. While I was standing at the altar last night (our church has altar prayer before each service) one of these little girls walked up next to me. When everyone got down to pray she got down on her knees and prayed along with everyone else. It was so sweet to see this young child praying.

As I was standing there the Lord reminded me of the story in Luke 18. In this passage Jesus is preaching and teaching the scriptures to a group of people. In the midst of his sermon they bring a group of children to Jesus. When the disciples see this they get angry because in their opinion Jesus did not have time to spend with these children.

Seeing this, Jesus immediately corrects the disciples and tells them that He always has time for little children. In fact Jesus teaches them a lesson saying, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”

“Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” What does that mean? Why is it so important that we come to God as a little child? Why does Jesus say that heaven is like a little child?

I hope that those of you reading this have had the privilege of spending some time with a child. I think Jesus wants us to learn something from them. Give me a second to tell you the things that God showed me last night. Maybe you will be able to see more than these few things.

Children are innocent. I understand that we are all sinners from birth, and kids do some things wrong, but for the most part children are innocent. Have you ever noticed that children tell the truth, even when you wish they wouldn’t? It’s funny some of the things that children tell. They don’t know to lie or tell a part-truth.

Children are trusting. Children will usually believe what they are told. They trust their mom and dad, and whatever their parents tell them they believe. When we grow up we become cynical, hard and untrusting. I wonder what God would be able to do in our lives if we would just believe what He says without question.

They also trust in their parents to take care of them. You don’t see a child worrying how the bills are going to be paid, or where their next meal will come from. Children just trust that their needs will be taken care of. This is the way that we should be with God. He has promised that He will take care of us, and we should believe that.

Children are not prejudice. Have you ever noticed the way kids play with each other? They don’t care if the other kids are fat or skinny. They don’t care if the other children have the same skin color. They don’t even care if the other children are ugly. Children are not prejudice against one another. I wish this could be said for us adults. We determine who someone is by the clothes they wear, the color of their skin and by how attractive they are. God made each of us, and God makes no mistakes. Don’t judge someone because you don’t like the way God made them.

Children like to have fun. Do you realize that God wants you to be happy? The scriptures teach us that a merry heart is like a medicine, it’s good for you. It seems like the older we get the less fun we have. God doesn’t want us going around with our lip on the ground. God created for us a beautiful world and He wants us to enjoy it.

I think we could learn a lot from a child. In fact there is so much to be learned from a child that Jesus used them as a description of what heaven will be like.

Leave me a comment and let me know what lessons you have learned from a child.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Preparation For The Final Judgment

Revelation Chapter 15

This chapter is one that is not understood by many. The few verses of this chapter serve as preparation for the upcoming events of the seven vial or bowl judgments.

This chapter begins with John witnessing as seven angels come forth preparing to pour out the last of God’s judgment upon the earth. The final three and one half years of tribulation are beginning, and God is preparing to pour out the remainder of His judgment. We will talk more about what this judgment is in future blogs. The point of chapter 15 is that God is making preparation for the last half of the tribulation judgments.

John then sees a second image in heaven. He sees a “Sea of glass”. This is the same sea of glass that we witnessed in chapter four. We notice however a difference in the sea in chapter four and the one before us in chapter fifteen. In chapter 4 it was unoccupied, now it is. In chapter 4 the surface was described as being “clear as crystal”, but now it is mingled with fire, symbolizing the fiery trials of those who stand on it.

Those that stand on the sea of glass are those who have been taken out of great tribulation and have gotten victory over the Beast. These occupants are seen standing upon the sea of glass. This sea of glass speaks of tranquility and peace. These are finally at rest with the Lord, and having been delivered from their sorrows.

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”   I Peter 1:7

The Bible says that they hold harps in their hands. This means that they are the harpers mentioned in chapter 14. In that chapter they sang the song only that only 144,000 sealed ones could understand. In chapter 14 John only heard these people, but now he sees them.

Finally John sees the heavenly temple. Seven angels come out of the temple wearing priestly garments. John says that they are carrying golden vials in their hands which were given to them by one of the four beasts.

Notice the description of the clothing of these angels. Their garments are “pure and white”. In this description we see the stark contrast between the holiness of God, and His judgments, and the wickedness of those being judged.

The fact that there are seven angels tells us that no stone will be left unturned. Seven in the Bible speaks of perfection. It also speaks of completion. God will complete His judgment perfectly with these seven last judgments.

The last verse of this chapter is one of the most awful in all of the scriptures. It tells us that during the last 42 months of the tribulation period God will close the temple to both men and angels. Inside the temple rests the mercy seat of God. Up to this point men have had access into the temple of God, but during this last portion of the tribulation there will be no mercy. All will be darkness as the smoke of God’s wrath comes up into the temple.

This will be the worst period of history the world has ever known.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Three Messages from Three Angels

Revelation Chapter 14

The information in this chapter is panoramic in that it briefly describes things that are soon going to take place, with the details following later in the book. For example in this chapter we are told of the fall of Babylon, but are not told the details until chapter 16.

Lamb with the 144,000 on Mount Zion
The first thing we see in this chapter is the Lamb with the 144,000 on Mount Zion. The Lamb in this chapter of course is the Lord for He has been called, or referred to, as a lamb many times throughout the scriptures. In the gospels we are told that John the Baptist cried out on different occasions, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Not only this, but the Lord is referred to as a lamb multiple times in this very book. There is no doubt they Lamb refers to Christ.

The 144,000 standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion are the same 144,000 that were sealed in chapter 7. In chapter 7 there were sealed 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Also in this verse we hear a voice from heaven that is described as “being like the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder.” This identifies the speaker as the same speaker in chapter one, which was the Lord. What this thundersome voice says is not told, but we know that it is followed by harp playing and singing.

As the elders have already been identified as the church, it makes sense that they are not the harp players in this chapter. Notice that these harpers play “before the elders” as described in the wording of the text. We are not told who these harpers are in this chapter. However in chapter 15:2-4 we are toldThey are those who stand on the sea of glass, the tribulation martyrs.

Three Angel Messengers

First Angel
In the book of Revelation we see the work of many angels. Angels blow trumpets, pour out vials, open pits, carry chains, and fight wars in heaven. In these verses we see an angel flying in the midst of heaven, which is the mid-heaven or the atmosphere that surrounds the earth. The purpose of the angel is to preach the "everlasting gospel."

This is the first and only place in the scriptures that we are told that an angel is to preach. God has chosen men to preach His message. Let me give you an example to prove this point. In Acts chapter 10 a man named Cornelius prayed that God would show him what he needed to do in order to be saved. God sent an angel to Cornelius. However, this angel could not go to the house of Cornelius and tell him how to be saved. The angel could only tell Cornelius to send for Peter to come and preach to him. The angel told him where to find a preacher man, and that man told him how to be saved.

In the gospel age only redeemed men are commissioned to preach the gospel, but at the end time, and just before the return of the Lord an angel will fly through heaven preaching the everlasting gospel. This is a good time to distinguish between the everlasting gospel and the other gospels preached in the scriptures. There are actually three gospels mentioned in the scriptures.

1. The gospel of the Kingdom:
This is the good news that God purposes to set up a kingdom on this earth over which the son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ, shall reign. This gospel is preached two times in the scriptures. First it was preached by John the Baptist, and Jesus and His disciples, but this ended by the rejection of Jesus by the Jews.

The second time this gospel is to be preached is by the 144,000 and the two witnesses during the tribulation period. This will be the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14. This will be the announcement that the time has come to set up the kingdom.

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”    Matthew 24:14

2. The gospel of the Grace of God:
This is the good news that Jesus died on the cross for salvation. This gospel is called the gospel of God in (Romans 1:1), because the source of the gospel is the love of God (John 3:16). The character of the gospel is grace, its subject is Christ, and it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.

In the scriptures it is also called the Glorious Gospel because it speaks of the one who is in glory, and has been glorified and who is bringing many sons to glory. It is also called the Gospel of Peace because it brings peace between man and God.

This is the gospel message that was first preached by the disciples beginning on Pentecost, and is still preached today.

3. The Everlasting Gospel (Revelation 14:6):
This is the gospel preached by the angel in our text. This is not the gospel of the kingdom, nor is it the gospel of the grace of God. The message of this gospel is not one of salvation, but of judgment. The angel warns that men should worship and fear God because of the impending judgment.

This gospel is good news to Israel and all others who are passing through the judgment of God, for this gospel declares that their troubles are going to soon come to an end and the destruction of the Antichrist is at hand.

Because this is not the gospel of the grace of God this gospel calls on men to worship God as creator, not Savior. You may not recognize that Christ is Savior, but you will recognize His as the creator of this universe.

The response to the angel messenger is no surprise. If people will not listen to the men of God preaching to them today, they will not listen to an angel preaching in the heaven. You will remember that the rich man cried in hell desiring for Lazarus to go warn his brothers. He believed if one rose from the dead and declared the message of salvation to them they would listen.

This is not true. In the Revelation we are told that two men will arise from the grave and preach, Moses and Elijah, and also an angel will preach in the midst of heaven. They will not receive any of these messages. The hearts of men are so hard they will not break, no matter the circumstance.

Second Angel
This verse is proof that the city of Babylon will be rebuilt. Some speculate that Baghdad will be destroyed and Babylon rebuilt in its place. Baghdad is a place of terror and bad times. Babylon however is remembered for the glory it held under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. And just like Nebuchadnezzar ruled from Babylon, so will Antichrist.

This angel proclaims that the city is fallen. This is an anticipative statement when speaking of the literal city, but it is true when you are speaking of the spiritual side of the city.

Third Angel
This is the most awful warning in all of the scriptures. Any person who worships the Antichrist, and receives his mark are doomed forever. They are to be cast into the lake of fire and tormented in the presence of the Holy angel and the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment will ascend up forever and ever. They are never to receive rest from their punishment.

Can you imagine hearing this message preached and then looking at your hand and there is the mark the angel has just spoken about?

A blessing in death
This warning will follow the warning of the False Prophet. The False Prophet will proclaim that all who refuse the mark of the beast will be killed. The angel is telling the undecided that it is better to lose your head than your soul. This is a reminder that it is better to reign with Christ for 1,000 years than with the Antichrist for 3 1/2 years.

This class of blessed believers will be blessed because when they die in the Lord. They are finally able to rest from their trials. They will also receive a martyrs crown according to Revelation 2:10.

“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10

The Harvest and The Reaper
There is no question who the reaper in these verses is. This is the Son of Man, Christ himself.

This harvest is not the harvest of the church, for that has already taken place in chapter 4. This is the harvest of the Gentile nations.

These verses look to the near future. For in chapter 16 the armies of the world are summoned together by three unclean spirits to the battle of Armageddon. This battle however will not take place until after the fall of the city of Babylon.

In these verses we see that the harvest is ripe and the Son of Man is commanded to cast in his sickle. This takes place with the pouring out of the vial judgments, and is finished by the battle of Armageddon.

The winepress mentioned is the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of almighty God according to Revelation 19:15. Please notice the following verses.

Isaiah 63:1-6

The winepress will cover the whole land of Palestine and it will extend as far east as Edom and Bozrah. The slaughter of that day will be so terrible that the blood will flow up to the horses bridle over the whole land of Palestine, which will cover 200 miles.

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