Saturday, April 06, 2024

How The Book of Revelation Rocks My World- Pt 2


I never intended for the last post to have a part 2. But being immersed in Revelation these last several weeks has me going through some thought experiments, and I usually feel the need to write it out and process it.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been compiling a list of 'apocalyptic type' news headlines the last few weeks and this week was no exception. So much so that a TV news anchor said, "the news feels almost Biblical today, where is Pharaoh?" and his crew laughed in the background of the newscast in response to the comment.

We had a major earthquake northeast yesterday- add to that the eclipse coming on Monday and an approaching trillion cicada hatch and the apocalyptic mood can creep in for sure!

And of all things, my Sunday School class schedule has me teaching Revelation Chapter 6 tomorrow.

I want to do something a little different as we begin the rather strange sections in this wonderful and soul fighting book. I want to go to a Scripture that few might use as a parallel passage to these seal, trumpet, (thunder) and bowl judgements.... let's look at Jesus in Luke 13.

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. [2] And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? [3] No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. [4] Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? [5] No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1–5 ESV)

We most likely are familiar with the age old debate regarding the existence of God and the problem of evil. If God is God and God is good, why is there pain, suffering, and evil in the world?

Indeed, the entire debate has its own area of study  called Theodicy (the justice of God,  from the Greek words theos ("God") and dik ("right, justice, judgment"). 

Jesus takes the topic head on here in Luke 13 when confronted with two terrible tragedies- Pilate killing some Galileans and a tower falling and killing 18 people.

Jesus doesn't answer why and He emphasizes that these events are NOT in direct result of exceeding sinfulness in comparison to others... NO- he asks the question that we all should ask in light of disturbing tragedies.

Not, WHY did it happen but instead, if that had happened to ME ...where would I stand with God?.

The Book of Revelation is no different, it is a constant clarion call for repentance.

In the NIV Bible, the words "repent" and "repentance" are mentioned 75 times in the Book of Revelation.

That "R" word can be a problem for modern evangelicals (like me) who have Jesus on the lips but no real change of behavior that runs counter to God's commands.

I watched a video recently of a man who was feeding an alligator... you can predict where that may be headed... but I feed my wild and dangerous nature all the time, where is that going to end up?

Here is my growing list of 'headlines" in the last several weeks:
  • Earthquake in NY
  • Eclipse
  • War in Israel and Europe
  • Red Heifer Cows Ready for Sacrifice in Israel
  • Bridge Collapses
  • Cicada Invasion about to hatch
  • Planes falling apart
  • Suspicious fires
  • Series of train derailments
  • Chemical plant explosions
  • Food production facilities being burned down, planes crashing into them
  • Thousands of mysteriously dead cattle
  • Jewish Chabad and the New York Underground network of tunnels
  • Southern border crisis
  • Havana Syndrome
  • Human trafficking scandals
  • Transgender Awareness Day on Easter Sunday
  • Inflation
  • Aliens

I found it interesting what Martin Luther said around 1530! (That was a long time ago!)

“The first thing for us to understand is that although the signs preceding the judgment day are many and great, they will all be fulfilled, even though none or very few men take note of or esteem them as such. For two things must take place according to the Word and prophecy of Christ and the apostles: first, that many and great signs will be made manifest; and secondly, that the last day will come unawares, the world not expecting it, even though that day be at the door. Though men see these signs, yea, be told that they are signs of the last day, still they will not believe, but in their security mockingly say: “Thou fool, hast thou fear that the heavens will fall and that we shall live to see that day?”

When the earthquake hit yesterday in NYC, the news reporters were interviewing people on the street and the common response was ... "Oh well, no big deal"...

A major purpose of this Book of Revelation is to NOT LET THAT HAPPEN… we must see the signs and keep getting reminded of the plans and purposes of God. No need to panic but we do need to pray and encourage all we can to not be caught unaware or unprepared.

This was funny from James Spann yesterday:


The first of the seals unleash a famous and well known Biblical image: four horses of color who wield judgement on the earth. We also see similar horses in Zechariah:

ZECHARIAH 6:1 Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, four chariots came out from between two mountains. And the mountains were mountains of bronze. 2 The first chariot had red horses, the second black horses, 3 the third white horses, and the fourth chariot dappled horses—all of them strong.4 Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5 And the angel answered and said to me, “These are going out to the four winds of heaven, after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth.

Remember- this is all figurative language.. no one believes in actual four corners or a real horse running across the sky... don't be snarky!

I spent some time this week about how thoughts about a horse might be different in our day than they were in Biblical times. This is an animal we know but in a world of tanks, jets, submarines, and air craft carriers we might have lost the sense of power and prestige that these majestic animals had on man in centuries past.

I was reading a book entitled, "The Heart of Everything That Is - The Untold Story of Red Cloud, an American Legend" by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin and became so enthralled about the importance of horses to the American Indians.

Mustangs were the most prized possession of Sioux warriors in the Black Hills. Introduced to America in the 1500's by Spanish Conquistadors, this new breed of horse was fast and easy to break.

"In the eyes of the Indians the horse endowed the European invaders with seemingly supernatural powers, and some tribes even believed that the mounted conquistadors were immortal."

We have to remember when it comes to the apocalyptic genre of Revelation that symbols can create issues in our interpretation of prophecy:

Can you symbolize parts of Scripture and still keep a high view of Scripture? Should we weigh literal interpretations more accurate than figurative interpretations?

 I never have had an issue with Scripture having symbolism and yet is still accurate, authoritative, inspired, and true! Is this the Real Reality? No, these are visions…but they represent deeper truths!

These seals, trumpets, and bowls represent a type of “pre-judgment judgment” and “pre-wrath wrath”…. and they will ebb and flow in intensity until He breaks through on a Day of Judgement.

And Jesus has the authority to wield these judgements, He is worthy and I also believe He is fair and compassionate!

In a sense, we have freedom to live within God’s boundaries or to rebel… but make no mistake, choices come with consequences that are contained in the activity itself! Everything suffers because of sin!

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:19-22 ESV)


The 6th seal is not as clear…..

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

Jesus uses similar language in the Olivet Discourse:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31 ESV)

The 6th seal is more of a cataclysmic event than the previous 5. I often think of it like a volcanic eruption or possibly a nuclear explosion. Those of a preterist mindset (The word preterism comes from the Latin preter, which means “past.” As in, the prophecy has already been fulfilled in the past) may point to something like Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. I tend to think of the sun darkened and stars falling more like burning embers falling, smoke, and debris from a major cataclysmic event. But who knows?

If I follow a recapitulation theory (growing birth pains).. it would be there is always a growing pressure of all the signs and even major events that ‘erupt’... making every type of warning to human beings to repent while the door of mercy remains open!

Again- the purpose of this post is WHERE ARE WE? not "What are the seals" or even "Why the seals".


Quick story (and long post... sorry)

When I was in 11th grade, I stayed overnight at a friends house near my high school He and his mom went to the store to get some breakfast food and I was alone in his house, still in bed on a lazy, coolish summer morning.

As I laid there half asleep, it heard a distant trumpet sound. It woke me a little.

A few counts more, and I hear it again LOUDER... I sat up!

Then, on rhythm, a few counts later, and entire blast of instruments! Like a loud orchestra!

I jumped up and RAN to the door... was this Jesus returning!?

On the front porch I looked out and a marching drum and bugle core was marching down the street practicing for a competition later that day. They popped their horns up and gave another BLAST and kept marching.

It wasn't Jesus... but I did think it was cool that I was excited and not scared. My heart was racing in anticipation.

My prayer is that you LONG to see Jesus and are not terrified at His return.
Today is a great day for salvation! Come to Him NOW! Please, do not delay even one more day!

If the problem of evil disturbs you, think of it as a fish hook in the shape of a question that penetrates your heart. Meditate on these thoughts and verses... 

 A Biblical Apologetic of Evil and Existence of God

NEHEMIAH 9:6 You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.
ISAIAH 55:6,7 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
There has to be majesty and mystery if there is a true God.
IS 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
The very definition of ‘God’ means a transcendent being beyond us.

If you can understand everything about your God- maybe that is a god made in your image.

Origin of evil came as a result of real freedom in the garden.
Genesis 3:2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
The growth and pervasive nature of evil is now a product of our bondage to sin.
EPHESIANS 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
ROMANS 7:15-25 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
God is not the author of evil, but he channels it to His good purposes. The cross is the greatest example of man's intended evil and God's intended good.
GENESIS 50:19-21But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Evil still exists because of God's patience.
II PETER 3:8-12 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!
The day of evil will close but also the day of mercy with it.
ACTS 17:30-31 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.
Evil is goodness spoiled- you can have good without evil- you cannot have evil without good.

The existence of evil actually points to the existence of God. Bad things happen to all on this earth- it points not only to God’s existence, but the need for salvation.
LUKE 13:1-5 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
Jesus endured hell for us- to turn Him away is the height of offensiveness, foolishness, and perversion.
HEBREWS 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
We are limited in mind and feeble of spirit- yet accuse God of wrongdoing and injustice.
ROMANS 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?

Do we want justice or mercy? Give me mercy!

ROMANS 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

We are as blind as a bear in the bear trap analogy (The bear sees a man wanting to get him out of the trap and thinks he is hurting him by pressing his foot in the trap. He doesn't understand he has to do it to free him from the trap.) We see only in part.

II CORINTHIANS 4:3-4 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

The gospel overcomes all evil.

ROMANS 3:21-24 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

Our sufferings are momentary and light....

II CORINTHIANS 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
REVELATION 21:1-3 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
We know God exists- but we suppress the truth.
Romans 1:18-22 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

The Bible does not debate the existence of God.
Psalm 14:The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good.
There are eyewitness reports of the truth of Jesus. These men died for this testimony.
I JOHN 1:1-3 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Assuming God is reasonable, but reasons alone are unsatisfactory- not because of our head... but because of our heart.

I CORINTHIANS 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
II CORINTHIANS 4:3-4 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Stop hiding from God - and experience His love and mercy.

JOHN 10:10-11 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
JOHN 10:27-30 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
It is life changing......
JOHN 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
The boss is in his office- you know he is there.
JOHN 20:28-29 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
JOHN 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me
You will meet Him at the right time.
JOHN 14:1-6 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

If you saw Him now as He is.... you would be rent in two.

HABAKKUK 2:14 For the earth will be filled
with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
ZEPHANIAH 3: 17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
ROMANS 8:31-39 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Finally, I believe in God because I have experienced Him- there is nothing wrong with this defense.
JOHN 9:24-25 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
But beyond this, the arguments for God’s existence that have weighed the most helpful in my heart are:
1) The design of the fine tuned universe and existence of life. Information and design came from a designer- Life from life. Not only that order exists, but also it is discoverable. The basic equations of the universe are able to be understood and communicated. We were placed in a world of discovery and accomplishment from the hand of God.
2) The moral argument- we have a deep sense of ‘ought ness’- even if the substance or details of our moral laws vary- we judge fairness and justice according to an unseen force of moral law. There is a moral lawgiver, and we are made in His image.
3) My desires point to God. I need relationship, security, and significance. My God is the Great Thirst Quencher- I need Him!
4) The testimony of the gospel and the triumph of the church. The spread of the gospel is the greatest phenomenon in the history of the world. Men and nations have been conquered through a story of love and sacrifice. The story of creation, fall, redemption captures us in movies, literature, art, and music in ways that I know this gospel story is grounded in reality… in truth.
5) The Bible. It is too unified and uncanny in predicting, explaining, and comforting to be the words of man. This is a supernatural experience. When I want to spend time with God, I just sit down and open His word!
II TIMOTHY 3:14-16 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
HEBREWS 4:12 For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
ROMANS 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
I CORINTHIANS 2:2-5 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
II CORINTHIANS 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

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