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Eternity

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In today’s Bible reading, John describes a dilemma. The One sitting on the throne holds a sealed scroll. An angel calls out, asking for someone who is worthy to open the scroll and break the seals. John says he was grieved because no one was worthy to read it or to even look in it. John wept. (Revelation 5:4)

But then, someone resembling a slaughtered lamb steps forward. And heaven erupts in praise: The slaughtered Lamb is worthy!

Don’t miss this. Don’t be distracted with the creatures. Don’t be distracted with the description of the creatures. Don’t be distracted by any of it because the main idea behind what’s going on is that Jesus is worthy to read God’s scroll. He is worthy to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing. (Revelation 5:12) John can’t count how many angels cried out in praise. He only says “countless thousands plus thousands of thousands”. (Revelation 5:11)

Application

If you want to go to heaven, but don’t like the idea of worshiping God, you’re going to be miserable in heaven.

When the Lamb opens the scroll, the angels sing a new song. (Revelation 5:9) Imagine an eternity of new songs.

I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say, Blessing and honor and glory and power be to the one seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever! Revelation 5:13 (CSB)

Imagine the sound of every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them praising God. Simultaneously. Awesome!

Then worship begets worship as the four living creatures approve with a hearty, “Amen” and the twenty-four elders bow in worship. (Revelation 5:14)

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Revelation

We’re rounding third base in our Bible Reading Plan. Today we begin reading the last book in the Bible: Revelation. Not Revelations, but Revelation. John, the Beloved Disciple received one revelation of Jesus Christ and recorded it for us. John’s purpose was not to give a timetable for Jesus’ return. Neither was his purpose to hide the timing of Jesus’ return in a code for us to figure out.

Yes, some of the book is in a code of sorts. The nature of the book’s genre means that there will be a lot of picturesque language. There will be lots of symbolism. And when we read it, we need to be very careful to not force meanings onto what we read based on what we’ve previously heard they’re supposed to mean. Trust me, there’s plenty for us to see; we should just let the text speak for itself.

The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatever he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 1:1–3 (CSB)

John says the reason for this book is to give us a heads-up of what will happen “soon”. Note: God’s “soon” isn’t necessarily what we consider to be “soon”. (2 Peter 3:9) John adds that those who read and keep what’s written in it will be blessed. One commentator said, that the content of The Revelation isn’t merely prediction; moral counsel and religious instruction are the primary burdens of its pages.”

Application

As you read through this book, don’t focus on trying to “figure it out”. Instead, ask God to show you what the chapter says about God. And what does it say about God’s people?

Take comfort as you read. Nothing should cause fear. Instead, as you read, ask God to give you a fresh sense of awe for Him, His ways, and His works.

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Martin Luther

As i read today’s Bible reading, I instantly thought of Martin Luther’s powerful hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”.

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way, and then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of his mouth and will bring him to nothing at the appearance of his coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:7–8 CSB)

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,—
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! His doom is sure,—
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers—
No thanks to them—abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also:
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is for ever.

“A Mighty Fortress is Our God” by Martin Luther

Application

As you consider the Second Coming of Jesus and His judgment on the lost, are you comforted or worried? If you are a Believer, you have nothing to be worried about! Your judgment has already been dealt with decisively in the death of Jesus on a cross almost two thousand years ago! There is no sin you could commit that could undo the provision God has already given you in Jesus! There no sin that is more powerful than the love, the grace, and the mercy of God!

But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, so that you might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught, whether by what we said or what we wrote. (2 Thessalonians 2:13–15

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Jonathan Edwards

In today’s Bible reading, following his brief greeting, Paul assures the Thessalonians that God will take care of those who persecute Christians. I’m sure the Thessalonians were on board with Paul’s promise until they read what is now labeled as 2 Thessalonians 1:7, “This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels, when he takes vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” (CSB)

Jesus’ Disciples expected Jesus to come in and right all the wrongs by the Romans against the Jews. They expected Jesus to ride in on a white horse and assume His throne. That didn’t happen because it wasn’t His time to do that. It still isn’t. The Disciples were disappointed. The Thessalonians were disappointed. And persecuted Christians today are disappointed.

It’s another reminder that God’s Word is sure and God’s timing is not our timing. “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 (CSB)

God is gracious, merciful, and patient, giving guilty people time to repent. But a time will come when His patience will run out. He will pour out His wrath on the unrighteous. And that will be a day of wailing and gnashing of teeth. That will not be a good day from the perspective of any human. But it will be a good day for God. His righteousness will be vindicated.

Puritan preacher/theologian Jonathan Edwards, in his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” expressed his perspective in similar ways. Contrary to popular thought about the sermon — and Edwards — the sermon is about God’s mercy, not His wrath. The sermon is about God’s pleasure to restrain His wrath in order to give men a chance to repent and turn to Him.

“There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell’s wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor anything between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.”[1]

Application

God is good to grant time for repentance. It’s in the midst of persecution that Believers must remain faithful to His call, despite how things look. Christian Hedonism makes faithfulness in the face of persecution possible.

And it’s part of being ready for Jesus’ return.

[1] Source: Monergism website

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semper armatus: always ready

I’ve heard many people tell stories of their mother warning them to always wear clean underwear, because you never known when you’re going to be in an accident. If you’re like many people, it won’t matter whether you’re wearing clean underwear before the wreck because you may not be after the wreck. If you just could know when that wreck is coming, you could make double-sure … if you could.

If you knew when a thief were coming to break into your home, you’d make sure that your home security system is armed. Or you’d make sure that you’re armed. But you’re never given advanced notice when you’ll have a wreck or when someone’s coming to break into your home. So you always have to be ready.

In today’s Bible reading, Paul tells the Thessalonians to be ready, because Jesus will return like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2) In fact, Paul adds that Jesus will come not just unexpectedly, but at the most inopportune time. You always have to be ready. And Paul actually tells us to always be armored up with “faith and love, and a helmet of the hope of salvation”. (1 Thessalonians 5:8 CSB)

Application

As I said in my last devotional, Paul knew our nature. Just like Jesus, he knew that if we were given a time and date for Jesus’ return, we’d live like the devil as long as possible and then clean ourselves up just in time for His return.

But it doesn’t work that way. We never know when Jesus will return. And if we did, we have no guarantee of when our time on this planet will end. Neither do we know when our friends, family, and coworkers will cross over to the other side of eternity. They need to hear this message! They need Jesus!

Paul’s takeaway application for us is that we need to encourage each other to always be ready. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

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