Thinking on Scripture with Dr. Steven R. Cook

revelation

Episodes

Saturday Nov 10, 2018

Revelation 22 provides a further description of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:1-5), as well as a closing epilogue to the book (Rev. 22:6-21). The chapter opens with a scene in which John is shown “a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1). On either side of the river is the tree of life, which bears “twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:2). There will not be any curse upon the creation, for “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads” (Rev. 22:3-4). And there will be no need of the light of a lamp, or of the sun, “because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:5). The angel then tells John, “these words are faithful and true” (Rev. 22:6), which means they can be accepted as fact. The theme of the book is reiterated in verse 7, where we are told that Jesus is coming quickly (cf. 12, 20), and there is a blessing pronounced upon those who take seriously the words of this prophecy (Rev. 22:7). In a moment of emotional fervor, John then falls at the feet of the angel and worships him, and for a second time is rebuked and told to “worship God” (Rev. 22:8-9; cf. 19:10). John is instructed not to seal up the words of this prophecy (Rev. 22:10), and is informed that people, both the wicked and the righteous, will continue as they are (Rev. 22:11). Jesus then states that He is “coming quickly” and will reward each person according to his deeds (Rev. 22:12; cf. 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:10-11). As the “Alpha and Omega” (Rev. 22:13), the eternal One, He can promise and fulfill His word. He then contrasts the righteous with the wicked. The former have the right to eat from the “tree of life” (Rev. 22:14), whereas the wicked are those “outside” of God’s blessing (Rev. 22:15). Jesus’ word is confirmed through His messenger to the churches. He then describes Himself as “the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (Rev 22:16; cf. Matt. 1:1). The Holy Spirit and the church (called a “bride”) extend an offer of salvation to any who will heed, saying, “let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Rev 22:17). The book closes with a pronouncement of cursing to anyone who adds or subtracts from the words of this prophecy (Rev. 22:18-19), and a final word that Jesus is “coming quickly” (Rev. 22:20). John then writes, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen” (Rev. 22:21).

Saturday Nov 10, 2018

John witnessed the destruction of the current heavens and earth and the creation of a new heaven and earth (Rev. 21:1; cf. 2 Pet. 3:10-13), and this included the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven (Rev. 21:2). The new Jerusalem could be what Jesus mentioned in John 14:1-3. The new creation will be free from any sin, sickness, pain, tears, or death, and will be a perfect environment where people will live and commune with God (Rev. 21:3-4). Jesus is the one who will accomplish these things, and the one who overcomes will inherit these blessings (Rev. 21:5-7), but unbelievers will be rejected (Rev. 21:8). An angel then showed John the beauty of Jerusalem which descends upon the new earth (Rev. 21:9-14), which city is fifteen hundred miles square (Rev. 21:15-16), with walls that are 72 yards thick (Rev. 21:17). It’s possible the city could be shaped either like a pyramid or a cube. The material of the city consists of precious stones and jewels (Rev. 21:18-21). There will be no temple in the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:22), and the presence of God the Father and the Son will illumine the city (Rev. 21:23). The nations of the world will walk by the light of Jerusalem (Rev. 21:24-25), and will bring their glory into it (Rev. 21:26), and nothing unclean will ever appear in it (Rev. 21:27).

Saturday Nov 03, 2018

Revelation 20 reveals that Satan will be imprisoned and Jesus will reign on the earth for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-6), and afterward will judge the devil (Rev. 20:7-10), as well as all unbelievers (Rev. 20:11-15). The chapter opens with Satan being bound in the abyss—a spiritual prison—where he is confined for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3a), but afterward is released for a short time (Rev. 20:3b). Tribulational saints, who were martyred for their faith, are resurrected and will reign with Christ for a thousand years (Rev. 20:4). Unbelievers will be resurrected at the end of the millennial reign of Christ, and these are not participants in the “first resurrection” (Rev. 20:5). Concerning this, John wrote, “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6). After the thousand years, Satan is released from his spiritual prison and will immediately gather unbelievers to lead them in revolt against Christ and His saints (Rev. 20:7-8); however, he and is army are quickly defeated (Rev. 20:9). It is assumed that these who revolt against Christ at the end of His millennial reign are among the many children born to those who survived the Tribulation and entered the millennium with earthly bodies. Though these descendants will grow up under the reign of Christ and will outwardly submit to Him, they will harbor resentment and unbelief, and when given the opportunity to revolt, will rise up with Satan at his release and will seek to unseat Christ from His throne. “The Millennium will prove, among other things, that a nearly perfect earthly environment (Isa. 35) and universal knowledge of the Lord (Isa. 11:9) will not change human hearts. This must be done personally and voluntarily, and multitudes will never do that during this long period.”[1] Satan is then thrown alive into the lake of fire, where the antichrist and false prophet have been during the thousand year reign of Christ, and there he remains forever (Rev. 20:10). Finally, John witnesses a great white throne, upon which Jesus sits, and “from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them” (Rev. 20:11). John saw “the dead”—all unbelievers—standing before the throne, and books were opened, and “the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds” (Rev. 20:12). These are all people who have died throughout human history, whether on land or sea, and who have been held captive by “death and Hades” (Rev. 20:13). Then, death and Hades, as well as all unbelievers, are thrown into the lake of fire, where they will remain forever (Rev. 20:14-15). Since those who stand before the throne do not have God’s righteousness within them, they are judged according to their human good works, which are not sufficient to gain them entrance into heaven (Isa. 64:6; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5), and the fact that their names are not written in the book of life will ensure their assignment to the Lake of Fire forever (Rev. 20:14-15). The great white throne judgment, as well as the lake of fire, can be avoided if one will simply trust in Christ as Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 16:31; Eph. 2:8-9), receive forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:13-14), and the gifts of eternal life (John 3:16; 10:28) and righteousness (Rom. 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9).   [1]Charles C. Ryrie, Revelation: Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago, Ill., Moody Press, 1996), 133-134.

Saturday Nov 03, 2018

The Bible reveals two aspects of God’s rule over His creation. The first is His universal rule in which He sovereignly decrees whatsoever comes to pass and “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11). There are times when God accomplishes His will immediately without the assistance of others (such as in the creation), and other times He chooses to work mediately through creatures, both intelligent (angels and people), and simple (Balaam’s donkey). Concerning God’s universal rule, Scripture reveals, “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all” (Ps. 103:19), and “Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Ps. 135:6). Daniel writes, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth” (Dan 4:34b-35a; cf. 5:21; 1 Chron. 29:11-12). The second is God’s earthly rule in which He governs through a human mediatorial administrator. The first account of such a rule is found in Genesis where the Lord assigned Adam and Eve to rule over the whole world (Gen. 1:26-28). Theirs was a mediatorial kingdom, which may be defined as “the rule of God through a divinely chosen representative who not only speaks and acts for God but also represents the people before God; a rule which has especial reference to the earth; and having as its mediatorial ruler one who is always a member of the human race.”[1] However, through an act of disobedience (Gen. 3:1-7), Adam and Eve forfeited their rulership to Satan, a fallen angelic creature, who rules through deception (2 Cor. 11:3, 14; Rev 12:9; 20:3, 8), blindness (2 Cor. 4:3-4), and enslavement (Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13). Since the fall of Adam and Eve, Satan has had dominion over this world and is called “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30; 16:1), “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2), and “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4). When tempting Jesus, Satan offered Him “the kingdoms of the world” (Matt. 4:8-9), and they were his to give. However, the Bible also reveals that Satan has been judged (Gen. 3:15; John 16:11), and in the future will be cast out of heaven (Rev. 12:7-9), confined for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3), and eventually cast into the Lake of Fire forever (Rev. 20:10). It must always be remembered that God sovereignly permits Satan a limited form of rulership for a limited period of time, always restraining him and his demonic forces, if they seek to transgress the boundaries He’s established for them (Job. 1:6-12; 2:1-6; Mark 15:1-13; 2 Pet. 2:4). Subsequent to Adam and Eve, God has worked to reestablish His kingdom on earth through the promises and covenants offered to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3), the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), the nation Israel (Ex. 19:5-6; Deut. 29:1-29; 30:1-10; Jer. 31:31-33), and king David (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37). When Jesus came, He repeatedly offered the earthly kingdom to Israel (Matt. 3:1-2; Matt. 4:17; 10:5-7), a literal kingdom they could physically enter into (Matt. 5:20; 6:10; Luke 19:11; Acts 1:3-6). But they rejected Him and His offer (Matt. 11:20; Matt. 12:14; Mark 15:12-15; John 19:15); therefore, the earthly kingdom was postponed for a future time (Matt. 21:43; cf. Matt. 19:28; 25:31; Luke 22:28-30; Acts 1:3-6; Rev. 20:4-6). We are currently living in the church age, which will come to an end when the church is raptured to heaven (1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). Afterward, there will be a period of time known as the Tribulation, which will begin when the Antichrist signs a seven year peace treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:24-27; cf. Revelation chapters 6-18). The time of Tribulation will come to an end when Jesus returns to earth to put down rebellion (Rev. 19:11-21) and establish His millennial kingdom (Matt. 25:31; Rev. 11:15; 20:1-6). The word millennium is derived from the Latin words mille which means “thousand” and annum which means “year”. The word millennium translates the Greek word χίλιοι chilioi, which occurs six times in Revelation 20:2-7. After His second coming, Jesus will rule the whole earth, from Jerusalem, on the throne of David (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37; Jer. 23:5-6; 33:14-15; Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14, 27; Matt. 6:10; Luke 1:30-33; cf. Mark 11:9-10), He will rule absolutely with “a rod of iron” (Ps. 2:9; Rev. 19:15), and afterward His kingdom will become an eternal kingdom (Dan. 2:44; 7:27; 1 Cor. 15:24). King David himself will be resurrected to rule with Christ (Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 34:23-24). Jesus will rule the nations in righteousness, advocating for the poor and weak, as well as suppressing wickedness and rebellion (Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1-9; Jer. 23:5-6; 33:14-18). People will have good health (Isa. 35:5-6), live long lives, and experience improvements in social and economic life (Isa. 65:19-25; Amos 9:13-14), and a new worship system will be implemented (see Ezekiel chapters 40-46). There will be no more war (Isa. 2:2-4; 32:17-18; Mic. 4:1-4), and harmful animals will no longer be a threat (Isa. 11:6-9; Ezek. 34:25). Israel will possess all the Promised Land (Ezek. 36:24; 39:25-29; Amos 9:15; cf. Gen. 15:18-21), and will be exalted over the Gentiles (Isa. 14:1-2; 49:22-23; 60:14-17; 61:6-7). The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord (Isa. 11:9; Jer. 31:33-34), and the Holy Spirit will indwell all believers (Ezek. 36:27; 37:14; cf. Jer. 31:33). The Gentiles will participate in the Jewish feasts and sacrificial system (Zech. 14:16). Satan will be bound during the reign of Christ (Rev. 20:1-3), but sadly, this will not change his rebellious nature, or the nature of those who follow him (Rev. 20:7-10).   [1] Alva McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom (Winona Lake, Ind. BMH Books, 2009), 41.

Saturday Oct 20, 2018

In Revelation 19 Jesus Christ fulfills all the prophecy of Scripture regarding His Second Coming to earth in anticipation of the establishment of His Millennial reign in righteousness. The chapter opens with a fourfold praise of God in which martyred believers and angels shout “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her” (Rev. 19:1-2; cf. 3-6). The next scene is the marriage of the Lamb, which presents Jesus as the Bridegroom and the church as His bride (Rev. 19:7-9; cf. 2 Cor. 11:2). All Christians are positionally righteous in God’s sight because of His imputed righteousness (Rom. 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21); however, the beauty of the church is here connected with her righteous acts, for she “has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). John explains, “It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean” (Rev. 19:8a), which seems to refer to the good works God prepares for us to walk in (Eph. 2:10). But we must choose that righteous life, and in doing so, we adorn ourselves with beautiful attire, “for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev 19:8b). Concerning this, Dr. Charles Ryrie states: The delicate balance between the sovereignty of God and human responsibility is maintained in the two phrases “has made herself ready” (she did it) and “it was given to her” (God did it). The bride’s array is “fine linen,” which is explained as “the righteous acts of the saints.” In other words, the bride’s wedding garment will be made up of the righteous deeds done in life. The bride is the bride because of the righteousness of Christ; the bride is clothed for the wedding because of her acts. Righteous acts flow from a righteous character, which is entirely of the grace of God.[1] John then records the first of two incidents in which he is rebuked for bowing and worshipping an angel (Rev. 19:10; cf. 22:8). Jesus then descends from heaven on a white horse (Rev. 19:11-13), with the armies of heaven (Rev. 19:14), and defeats His enemies with a word (Rev. 19:15-16). An angel invites the birds of heaven to feast upon the corpses of those who are killed (Rev. 19:17-18). Jesus defeats the Antichrist and his armies in a moment (Rev. 19:19), and seizes the Antichrist and his false prophet and throws them alive into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20; cf. Rev. 20:10). And all the birds were filled with the flesh of those defeated by Christ (Rev. 19:21). The return of Christ is praiseworthy news to those who are in heaven and on the earth who love Him and look forward to His coming. However, it is bad news to those who hate him and resist His will (2 Thess. 1:3-10; Rev. 19:11-21).   [1] Charles C. Ryrie, Revelation: Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago, Ill. Moody Press, 1996), 128.

Saturday Oct 20, 2018

  The Old Testament revealed the coming of the Jewish Messiah, both as a Suffering Servant (Ps. 22:6, 12-18; Isa. 50:6-7; 53:1-12; Dan. 9:26; Zech. 13:7), and as a reigning descendant of David (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37), who would establish an earthly kingdom in Israel (Ps. 2:1-12; Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1-5; Jer. 23:5; Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14). The New Testament clearly identifies Jesus as the promised Messiah (Matt. 1:1, 16; Luke 1:31-33; John 1:41-42). At His first coming, Jesus repeatedly offered the earthly Davidic kingdom to Israel (Matt. 4:17, 23; 9:35; 10:7), but His offer was rejected by the Jewish leadership and the majority of people (Matt. 11:20; Matt. 12:14; 27:22-23), so the kingdom was postponed for a future time (Matt. 21:43). After the kingdom was rejected, Jesus began to explain to His disciples that he would be crucified, buried, and resurrected after three days (Matt. 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19). He then died for our sins (John 19:1-30; cf. Mark 10:45; Rom. 5:6-8; 1 Pet. 3:18), was buried (John 19:31-42), and rose again on the third day as He’d prophesied (John 20:1-31; cf. 1 Cor. 15:3-4). After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to numerous persons, namely, Mary Magdalene and other women (John 20:10-18; Matt. 28:8-9), two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32), the disciples without Thomas (John 20:19-25), the disciples with Thomas (John 20:26-29), the disciples by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-23), Peter, James, and more than 500 brethren at one time (1 Cor. 15:5-7), and the disciples at Jerusalem before His ascension (Acts 1:3-9). After His ascension, Jesus also appeared to Stephen (Acts 7:56), Paul (Acts 9:1-6; 1 Cor. 15:8), and John on the island of Patmos (Rev. 1:9-18). Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus prophesied He would return again (Matt. 16:27; 19:28; 25:31). After His resurrection and ascension, an angel confirmed to Jesus’ disciples that He would come back (Acts 1:11), and this will happen after the time of Tribulation (Matt. 24:29-30; Rev. 1:7; 19:11-16; 20:1-6). The Second Coming is distinguished from the Rapture of the Church where Christ takes all Christians to heaven (John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; cf. 1 Cor. 15:51-53). The Rapture of the Church occurs just prior to the seven year Tribulation.

Saturday Oct 13, 2018

In Revelation 18, Babylon is pictured as a commercial center that is destroyed by God, because it promotes the glorification of self and pleasure above Him. An angel informs John that Babylon—which is noted for its uncleanness—has fallen (Rev. 18:1-2), and that the kings and merchants of earth have participated in her spiritual immorality (Rev. 18:3). God then calls for His people to “come out of her”, so they will not participate in her sin and judgments, for her sins have reached heaven, and God is about to render judgment against her (Rev. 18:4-6). Babylon is pictured as a woman who sees herself as a complacent queen who will never experience hardship, but God will judge her in one day (Rev. 18:7-8). And the kings and merchants of the earth who enjoyed her pleasures and capitalized on her practices will weep over her destruction (Rev. 18:9-10), for all her luxurious commodities and products are destroyed (Rev. 18:12-19). But heaven, and God’s people, will rejoice because of God’s righteous judgment on her, that she is forever destroyed (Rev. 18:20-23), because she was responsible for the murder of “prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth” (Rev. 18:24).

Saturday Oct 13, 2018

Babylon is called the “great harlot” (Rev. 17:1), and who entices and intoxicates the rulers and the masses of humanity “with the wine of her immorality” (Rev. 17:2). She is seen astride a scarlet beast (i.e. Antichrist), which has seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 17:3). The woman is pictured in regal attire, wearing precious jewels, holding a gold cup full of abominations and immoralities (Rev. 17:4), and on her forehead was written, “Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth” (Rev. 17:5), and she is drunk with the blood of the saints (Rev. 17:6). Religious harlotry is the seductive promotion of false religions, ecumenicalism, and immorality that draws people away from faithfulness and obedience to God (Jer. 3:6-10; Ezek. 16:30-34; Jas. 4:4). An angel then explains the vision of the woman and the beast that carries her (Rev. 17:7). John learns the beast is the Antichrist who was wounded and revived (Rev. 17:8; cf. 13:3), and the seven heads are seven mountains (Rev. 17:9), which refer to seven kings/kingdoms (Rev. 17:10). The beast is himself an eighth king who eventually goes to destruction (Rev. 17:11). The ten horns refer to ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but will receive authority to rule with the beast for a short time, and they give their power and authority to Antichrist (Rev. 17:12-13). These rulers, led by Antichrist, wage war against the Lamb of God and are defeated by Him (Rev. 17:14). The angel then explains that the waters refer to “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” which are dominated by Babylonianism (Rev. 17:15). Eventually, the mutual arrangement between the great harlot, the kings of the earth and beast is dissolved, and the latter will “will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire” (Rev. 17:16). This will happen according to God’s sovereign control, “For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God should be fulfilled” (Rev. 17:17). From this verse we learn about primary and secondary causes. God never causes nor condones evil; however, He can and does control the evil actions of people to accomplish His will (cf. Gen. 45:4-5; Acts 4:26-28). The sovereignty of God in controlling people and circumstances does not abnegate the responsibility of people who act contrary to His will. The mature believer learns to see the sovereign hand of God that lies behind all people and circumstances, and lives by faith, trusting God is in control of all events (Rom. 8:28). Finally, Babylon is described as the woman who “reigns over the kings of the earth” (Rev. 17:18).

Saturday Oct 13, 2018

Babylon is named after the city of Babel, which was founded by a descendant of Noah named Nimrod, who is described as a “mighty hunter before the Lord” (Gen. 10:9). Moses tells us that Nimrod founded several cities, namely, “Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar” (Gen. 10:10). Shinar is in the region of what is today known as Iraq. Moses wrote about the origin of Babylon, with its values and practices. Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Gen 11:1-4) In this passage we observe these early descendants of Noah all spoke the same language and chose to settle in the land of Shinar contrary to God’s previous command to “fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1). After settling, they began to use God’s resources of volition, intelligence, language, and building materials to build a city for themselves, as well as a tower into heaven. All of this was done to make a name for themselves, rather than to obey and glorify God. Their big plans and big tower were small in the sight of God, who “came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built” (Gen. 11:5). No matter how big their tower, it would never reach heaven, and the Lord condescended to see their production. Of course, the Lord knew all along what they were doing, and this satirical language helps us understand the work of men from the divine perspective. Because it was God’s will for them to fill the earth, He confused their language and scattered them over the earth (gen. 11:6-9). The Bible teaches that those who exalt themselves shall be abased (Matt. 23:12). In this little story the proud rebellion was met by God in talionic judgment. What they feared the most came upon them, and the fame they craved came in the form of notoriety. By such justice God demonstrates his sovereignty over the foolish plans of mortals, turning their rebellion into submission to his will.[1] Babylon is identified as the birthplace of organized rebellion against God, in which people used the Lord’s resources in defiance of His will. Babylon is mentioned over three hundred times in Scripture, and in several places is identified for her pride (Isa. 13:19), idolatry (Isa. 21:9; Jer. 51:44), and sorceries (Isa. 47:13). When Daniel was taken into Babylonian Captivity in 605 B.C., he and his friends were forced into a Chaldean reeducation program which was intended to assimilate him into the Babylonian culture which forced upon him “the literature and language of the Chaldeans” (Dan. 1:4), accepting a new name (Dan. 1:7), and serving as a governmental administrator (Dan. 1:17-21; 6:1-3).  By the time we get to the book of Revelation, it is seen both as a city and a system that promotes religious, political, and economic agendas that are antithetical to God. Babylon is also described as a great harlot who influences all of humanity (Rev. 17:1-5), is guilty of persecuting and murdering prophets and saints (Rev. 17:6), is a dwelling place of demons and unclean spirits (Rev. 18:2), and with whom “the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality” (Rev. 18:3). Eventually, Babylon is completely destroyed just prior to the Second Coming of Christ (Rev. 18:2, 10, 21). Babylonianism is a philosophy of human autonomy that permeates all aspects of society including literature, music, art, politics, economics, business, academic institutions, and culture at large. It is a system of values that start and end with man, and is embraced by the vast majority of people who assign no serious thought of God to their discussions, plans, or projects, but who seek to use His resources independently of His wishes. Babylonianism is also the mother of all world religions, which provide people a system of beliefs and rituals whereby they can work their way to heaven by human effort. There is even a Babylonian form of Christianity, which undermines the grace of God and convinces people they are saved by good works. Biblical Christianity is not a religion, whereby people bring themselves to God through ritual practices or good works. Rather, it presents the truth that God is holy and can have nothing whatsoever to do with sin (Hab. 1:13; 1 John 1:5), that people are helpless to save themselves (Rom. 4:1-5; 5:6-10; Gal. 2:16; Tit. 3:5), and are under His wrath (John 3:18; 36). The gospel message is that God provided a way for helpless sinners to be saved, and this is through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:3-4), who died in our place on the cross and paid the penalty for our sins (Rom. 5:6-8; Heb. 10:10-14; 1 Pet. 3:18). The simple truth of Scripture is that we are saved by grace alone (Eph. 2:8-9), through faith alone (John 3:16), in Christ alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), whose substitutionary death provides forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:13-14), eternal life (John 3:16; 10:28), and the gift of righteousness (Rom. 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9). Biblical Christianity is more than just a way to be saved. It also provides a structured philosophical framework that tells us why everything exists (i.e. the universe, mankind, evil, etc.) and helps us to see God sovereignly at work in everything, providing purpose for our lives, and directing history toward the return of Christ. This gives us hope for the future; for “according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13). When properly understood and applied, Scripture guards us from harmful cultural influences (Phil. 4:6-8), and directs and enriches our lives (Ps. 119:14, 111). Jeremiah wrote, “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jer. 15:16). It sets us free to enjoy God’s world and to pursue righteousness and goodness (Rom. 6:11-13; Tit. 2:11-14). As Christians, must be careful that we do not fall into Babylonianism, either by following the lead of those who seek to silence or pervert the voice God, or be enticed by pleasures or activities that lead us to trust in people or things instead of Him. Rather, we must consciously place God at the center of our lives and pursue His glory, and humbly serve others above our own self-interests (Phil. 2:4-8).   [1] Allen P. Ross, Creation and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), 244.

Sunday Oct 07, 2018

The subject of God’s wrath is mentioned throughout Scripture. A few examples of God’s wrath in the OT include the worldwide flood (Genesis 6-9), the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19), suppressing the rebellion of Korah (Num. 16:1-50), judging Solomon because of his idolatry (1 Ki. 11:9-11), and the Assyrian destruction of the ten tribes of Israel (2 Ki. 17:1-23). A few examples in the NT include Jesus’ anger at the hard-heartedness of religious leaders (Mark 3:1-6), His anger at the money changers in the Temple (John 2:13-16), God’s wrath during the Tribulation (Rev. 6:16-17; 14:9-10; 15:7; 16:1), at the second coming of Jesus (Rev. 19:15), and at the Great White throne judgments where unbelievers are cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15). God’s wrath refers to His intense hatred of sin. God’s hatred of sin assumes the qualities of righteousness and holiness. Scripture states, “Righteous are You, O LORD, and upright are Your judgments” (Ps. 119:137), and “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; for all the nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed” (Rev. 15:4). Divine righteousness is that intrinsic, immutable, moral perfection of God, from which He commands all things, in heaven and earth, and declares as good that which conforms to His righteousness and as evil that which deviates. God’s holiness means that He is morally pure and set apart from all that is sinful. God’s wrath is the natural response to that which is contrary to His righteousness and holiness. When people behave contrary to God’s righteous and holy character, the Lord becomes angry. His anger is motivated by a desire to protect that which He loves. God loves righteousness and He loves His people. To perpetually act contrary to God’s righteousness will eventually bring a response of anger, and to attack that which God loves—His people—will bring about divine retribution. God’s anger is never rash. In fact, many biblical passages reveal God is very patient with us and slow to anger. Scripture reveals, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth” (Ex. 34:6), and “You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth” (Ps. 86:15; cf. Ps. 103:8; Jon. 4:2; Neh. 9:17). God’s patience allows people time to humble themselves and turn to Him before judgment comes. Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Though God is patient, He is not patient forever, and there eventually comes a time when His judgment comes, both in time and in eternity. God’s righteousness demands punishment for sin, but God’s love desires to save the sinner. We produce sin, but are helpless to deal with it. God alone solves our sin-problem, and the cross of Christ is that solution. At the cross God judged our sin as His righteousness requires, and extends grace to the sinner as His love desires. At the cross God satisfied every demand of His righteousness by judging our sin in the substitute of His Son, Jesus, who bore the wrath that rightfully belongs to us (Isa. 53:6-12; Mark 10:45; Rom. 5:8-9; 1 Pet. 2:21-24; 3:18). As a result, God is propitiated by the blood of Christ (Rom. 3:21-26; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10), and extends grace and love to undeserving sinners (John 3:16-18; Rom. 5:6-10; Eph. 2:1-9; Tit. 3:5). Those who reject Christ as Savior continue under God’s wrath (John 3:18, 36; Rom. 1:18-32; 1 Thess. 2:14-16; 5:9-10). Those who trust Jesus as their Savior receive forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:13-14), the imputation of God’s righteousness (Rom. 5:17-18; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9), are reconciled with God and are on friendly terms (Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18-19), have relational peace with Him (Rom. 5:1; Col. 1:20), will never know eternal condemnation (Rom. 8:1, 31-39), and will be spared from the wrath to come (Rom. 5:8-9; Eph. 2:1-7; 5:1-10; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; 5:9-10). It should be noted there is a difference between wrath and discipline. The Christian who falls into a lifestyle of perpetual sin may know God’s discipline (Heb. 12:5-11), even to the point of death (1 Cor. 11:30; 1 John 5:16). But discipline is born out of God’s love for the believer, not His anger, “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines” (Heb. 12:6), and “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline” (Rev. 3:19). Is it alright for God’s people to get angry? The answer is yes and no. There is a sinful anger that God’s people must avoid (Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8; Titus 1:7); however, there are times when we will experience injustice, and it is natural and valid to be angry when this happens. When writing to Christians at Ephesus, Paul stated, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Eph. 4:26-27). Anger is wrong when it leads us to sin (i.e. revenge, murder, etc.). As Christians, we must be careful with anger, for sin crouches near the one who harbors it, tempting that person to retaliate and exact revenge upon the offending party. Personal revenge is not the Christian way, for Scripture directs us, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). More so, we are to love and pray for our enemies (Luke 6:27-29), and to bless them (Rom. 12:14; 1 Pet. 3:8-9), if perhaps God may grant them saving grace (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Though God promises to avenge the innocent (2 Thess. 1:6-7; Rev. 6:9-11; 19:1-2); there may be times when He surprises us by showing grace and mercy to those who don’t deserve it, such as the grace shown to Paul when he was persecuting the church (Acts 9:1-6; Gal. 1:15-16), or the grace shown to us while we were sinners (Rom. 5:6-10).

Sunday Oct 07, 2018

Revelation 16 concludes God’s wrath on the earth toward men who live in constant rebellion to Him. Revelation 16 reveals what God is going to do before the return of Christ (Rev. 19), and Revelation chapters 17 through 19 reveal who He’s going to do it to. “Unlike the previous series of judgments of the trumpets and seals, each of which had a break between the sixth and seventh judgments, the seven plagues of the bowls are poured out without interruption and apparently quite rapidly.”[1] John uses the Greek adjective μέγας megas a dozen times emphasizing the severity of God’s judgments in this final phase of the Tribulation. Revelation 16 opens with a command to seven angels to pour out God’s wrath upon the earth (Rev. 16:1). The judgments include severe sores upon mankind (Rev. 16:2), turning the oceans to blood and killing all marine life (Rev. 16:3), turning the world’s drinking water to blood (Rev. 16:4), scorching men with severe heat from the sun (Rev. 16:8-9), severe darkness upon the throne of the Antichrist and his kingdom (Rev. 16:10-11), drying up the Euphrates River so the hostile kings from the east can invade Israel (Rev. 16:12-16), and a great earthquake that affects topographical changes all over the earth as well as hailstones weighing one hundred pounds (Rev. 16:17-21). Some of the judgments are similar to those which were brought on Egypt such as boils (Ex. 9:8-12; Rev. 16:2), turning water to blood (Ex. 7:20-25; Rev. 16:3), and darkness (Ex. 10:15; Rev. 16:10). God is declared righteous in the outpouring of His wrath on wicked men (Rev. 16:5-7; cf. Rom. 12:17-19; 2 Thess. 1:6). Men are so corrupt in their nature, that even though they experience God’s righteous wrath toward them, they refuse to humble themselves and repent, but rather blaspheme His name (Rev. 16:9, 11, 21; cf. Rev. 9:20-21).   [1] Charles Ryrie, Revelation: Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago, Ill., Moody Press, 1996), 111.

Saturday Sep 29, 2018

Revelation 15 reveals that God is righteous to judge those who oppose Him and to reward His saints for being faithful to death. The chapter opens with a scene in heaven, where seven angels are given the final seven plagues of God’s wrath, which are yet to be poured out on the earth (Rev. 15:1). John was shown “a sea of glass mixed with fire” in connection with believers “who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name” (Rev. 15:2). These victorious believers will sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb (Rev. 15:3a). The song of Moses was sung by the Israelites after the Lord had delivered them from Pharaoh and his army at the Red Sea (Ex. 15:1-21). Apparently the song of the Lamb will be sung by believers who are strengthened by Christ to endure the Tribulation and not to yield to the pressures of the Antichrist, which pressures will be political, social, religious, and economic. These will praise God for His works and attributes, saying, “Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the nations. Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; for all the nations will come and worship before Thee, for Thy righteous acts have been revealed” (Rev. 15:3b-4). After the song of praise, John sees seven angels who come out of the heavenly temple (Rev. 15:5-6), and these are clothed in white linen (symbolizing purity), and golden girdles wrapped around their breasts (the clothing of a judge). One of the four living creatures mentioned earlier (Rev. 4:6) gives seven bowls of God’s wrath to the seven angels so they can execute His judgment upon the earth (Rev. 15:7). The scene then closes, “And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished” (Rev. 15:8). In this short chapter, John reveals seven of God’s attributes, which include: Sovereignty – “Lord God” & “King of the nations” Omnipotence – “the Almighty” Righteousness – “Righteous” Veracity – “true” Justice – “the wrath of God” Eternal nature – “who lives forever and ever” Holiness – “Thou alone art holy”

Copyright 2013 Steven Cook. All rights reserved.

Podcast Powered By Podbean