Tag Archives: Revelation

Show Us God Before You Go

By Daniel Downs

In the fourteenth chapter of John’s gospel, three questions are raised and answered. The subject matter concerning Jesus’ statements about is leaving them to a place where he will be glorified. (13:31-35) His disciples did not know what the heck he was talking about. They were not sure they understood where he was going. As all good Jews, they began asking questions.

Peter respectfully raised the first question that is recorded in the previous chapter and it was reiterated by Thomas here. The question is this: What do you mean? Where are you going, and why can I not follow you right now? (13:36, 37) Jesus responding by saying, “Don’t worry about it. You will follow later. I’m going to my Father’s house where I will prepare a place for you. I will come again to take you to where I am now going. Come on guys, don’t act dumb, you know the way to where I’m going. Don’t you?” (13:36-14:4)

Expressing his usual point of view, Thomas, the proverbial skeptic, pipes up and says, “What! We neither know where you are going nor how to get there” (v. 5).

Jesus’ infamous retort is “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but though me. If you really knew me you would have known my Father also. So look here guys. You now know Him, and have seen Him. Get it?” (vv. 6-7)

While listening Philip is going hmm. He says, “No Lord, I still don’t think we get it. I do not remember having seen God. How about showing us the Father. Yeh, show us God. That should do the trick” (v. 8).

Jesus seemed very surprised. No doubt he was thinking these guys are bunch of numb skulls. It shows by his question that follows. “Have I been so long with you, and you have not come to know me, Phillip?” Let me make it real simple and plain for you. “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” So, “how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?” (v. 9)

From verses 10 through 21, Jesus explains how he reveals the Father and how they will also. In essence, it is because of their intimate spiritual relationship and works that the unseen God is manifested to the world. Their relationship to Jesus and Jesus’ relationship to the Father lived out in daily life is the way God is made known. Of course, God is seen through their lives lived according to the commandments of God and ministry of the Messiah.

At the end of his explanation, Jesus says, “He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me and will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will disclose myself to him” (v. 21). To which Judas responds, “Why only disclose yourself to us and not to the world?” (v. 22)

In order to understand Judas’ question, one need to know a little more about him. Judas was a member of the Zealot party. Zealots wanted to overthrow Rome’s control over Jerusalem and do away with Jewish traitors who helped them. The Messiah was and still viewed as a political and military leader who will lead Israel to defeat all oppressors and enemies. To Judas, Jesus’ Messiahship was naturally one that would be evident to Rome and all the world. Christians believe that is soon to be revealed.

Jesus seems to ignore Judas’ actual question. Instead, he picks up were he left off. Jesus continues to explain that he is going to where the Father is (v. 28). However, they (God and Jesus) will come back to make their abode with those who love him. How? Through the promised helper. Jesus describes this helper as the Spirit of Truth (v. 17) and the Holy Spirit (v. 26). The disclosure questioned by Judas will happen by means of the Helper. He will teach them what Jesus reveals (v. 26; 15:26;16:13-15). He will remind them of the things Jesus has already disclosed to them (v. 26;.15:27; 16:4). He will administer the peace of Jesus, which why the Holy Spirit is called Helper, Comforter and Advocate (v. 27). These adjectives derive from the Koine Greek word parakletos and is descriptive of a relationship in which one comes to the side of another in order to aid him or her. It connotes the martial relationship explained in Genesis 2:18-24. In ancient society, it also was used to describe legal counsel or social advocacy for others. And, in the context of John 14-17, Jesus also is speaking of comfort. For example, Jesus begins and ends by saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (14:1, 27). In chapter 15, Jesus deals with others hating them for carrying on the message and work of Jesus, but the Holy Spirit will testify to them of Jesus. And in chapter 16, the same Spirit will himself convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, the judgment while at the same time leading the disciples, teaching them, and manifesting God’s love to and through them.

When people see and hear God, they either attracted or repulsed. The blessed saps who are the medium of the message or “the showing” often get the brunt of human guilt or hate toward God. Jesus was crucified. All of the disciples except John were killed for their testimony to Jesus’ resurrection. People around the globe still get kicked by states, other religions and their followers, and even by those who claim to be of Christ. But, as present as He was with Moses, the prophets and Jesus, God is still a present witness.

Sabbath Discussions : What is the mark of the Beast in Revelation, the Book

By Daniel Downs

Now that our government’s latest effort to raise taxes is over, I want to resume my discussion of Revelation. I guess here discussion means with a conversation with myself. Nevertheless, it’s my hope and prayer that those who read these posts will benefit from my mental brain storms–as it were.

Oh, yes, lest I forget; I don’t actually believe these discussions will help any pastor long in the ministry understand Revelation any more than I think such students of the Bible are confused by Revelation. If the one I referred to in my first post was serious, I ask for your fervent prayer on his behalf.

Now, that’s off my chest; let’s consider what the mark of the Beast is as described in Revelation chapter 13:16-18.

Based on current technological developments, prophecy teachers tell us that the mark is probably a microcomputer chip. These chips are already being used in GIS technology. They are being implanted in pets, livestock, and in human newborns. Linked to satellites, devices, animals, or people with embedded microchips can be tracked to within a few feet anywhere in the world. If linked to supercomputers where our government, medical, and financial records are stored, big brother can know anything about our every activity including all of our financial transactions. With traffic and other surveillance cameras going up in every place imaginable, big brother as envisioned by George Orwell in his novel 1984 will soon be a reality. All that will be needed is a paranoid socialist dictator reigning over the world.

As mentioned in Revelation 13:18, the mark is a number representing the dictatorial beast. It is also pointed out by prophecy experts that in the future embedded chips will most likely possess the beast’s number or code to screen non-members of his global anti-religion club, which is another reason to suspect this beast will be a good socialist or secularist. Membership in this end time global anti-god club is voluntary. It is truly egalitarian. Its membership consists of rich and poor, famous and infamous, slaves and free citizens from all nationalities of the world. (13:16) Thus, under this tyrannical socialist dictator, racial prejudice is a thing of the past. The final bigotry of humanity to be eradicated is god-fearing haters of greed, oppression, immorality, falsehood, and the like. Consequently, those who refuse to join the club will likely loose their lives here on terra firma. (13:15)

One of the beautiful things about having everyone in the world embedded with a traceable microchip is how much greater the convenience in conducting financial transactions like buying and selling. Instead of wasting time getting paper and credit cards out of your pockets, billfold, or purse, all members of the global anti-god club will have to do is pass their hand or forehead past a scanner. It will be very similar to moving bar coded merchandise over scanners at most retailers today. Again, most non-members will not have to worry about this change because most will not be alive.

It’s true; socialist-secularism does not bode well for dissenters. History proves that much.

If we dig a little deeper (and here I’m not referring to a grave), we will find a few more valuable nuggets of knowledge. In the prophecies of Ezekiel, God sends an angel to mark the people on their forehead who were burdened by the evils done in Israel. (Ezek. 9:1-4). Concerning the rest, God ordered them to be killed. (9:5-8) Why? Divine justice demands unrelenting crime to be abolished. Those whose foreheads were marked for protection demonstrated their moral and emotional fidelity to the covenantal law of God. They choose not be become callous and numb to evil because of its acceptance and prevalence. They choose to suffer the pains of self-discipline and fidelity instead. That this is about a mental determination on the part of the marked and unmarked is further supported by God’s instruction to Ezekiel at the beginning of his calling:

“Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak My words to them. For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech or difficult language … whose words you cannot understand. But, I have sent you to them who should listen to you; yet the house of Israel will not listen to you, since they are not willing to listen to Me. Surely the whole house of Israel is stubborn and obstinate. Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces and your forehead as hard as their foreheads…. Do not be afraid of them or be dismayed before them, though they are a rebellious house.” (2:4-9)

The same moral fidelity is also represented by the 144,000 undefiled Jewish bondservants whose foreheads are seal in chapter 7 of Revelation.

Here in chapter 13, the opposite is the case. Those whose foreheads are sealed with the mark of the latest and greatest dictator are as immoral, unfaithful, and anti-Christ as the he is. The famous mark, 666, thus symbolizes the trinity of modern secularism consisting of statism, humanism and socialism. This modern secular trinity is the allegiance of Satan disguised as the worship of humanity and self. It reflects the taboo of secularism and naturalism that claims god-is-dead or never existed while making the state the almighty and humanistic science its religion. This is similar to the Roman faithful making Caesar a god and building the temple of Caesar in Pergamum. Jesus assures us that this is where Satan seat of power or governance was located. (Rev. 3:13)

Jesus said, “Your heart is where your treasure is.” (Mat. 6:21) I think I remember a preacher once saying during an offertory that it is where your allegiance is as well. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a preacher taking an offering, but it applies nonetheless. Our fidelity to the covenantal law of faith in Jesus Christ is why the Spirit of God seals our foreheads as a token assurance of eternal life in God’s kingdom. (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph.1:31-14; Eph. 4:30)

Our mind and emotions cannot be disconnected from our eternal spirit.

According to the Apostle Paul, we are to …

“live no longer as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard of Him and have been taught in Him, just as the truth is in Jesus, that in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness and truth.” (Eph. 4:17-24)

Sabbath Discussions : On the most outrageous statement in Revelation (the book)

One of the most outrageous statements penned by the writer of Revelation is this:

Jesus Christ … the ruler of the kings of the earth. (Rev. 1:5)

How could John claim that Jesus was the ruler over the vicious Christian murdering Roman king Domitian? Show me any other king in the world who came to the aid of persecuted Christians before Emperor Constantine. I don’t know of any king today who appears to be ruled by Jesus either. Surely, the collective Emperor called the U.S. Congress does not follow the rule of Jesus Christ.

Do you doubt that Congress is king of a kingdom? Several years ago when new Congress was being sworn into office I caught the last part of the speech and prayer of the high ranking military chaplain, a black general, who was officiating over the ceremony. He instructed Congress to rule the kingdom they were inheriting well. There also seems to be a consensus among political analysts, economists, historians, theologians, journalists, and other scholars that America has achieved the status ruler over a global empire, and most regard it as an economic one. Some historians have shown how similar our federal government is to the Roman Empire at its terrible apex. Satan gave Jesus the tempting opportunity to rule over both the Roman Empire and all other earthly kingdoms as well. (Mt. 4 and Lk. 4)

Back to my question–how then could John make such an outrageous statement? Unless he saw Christians reigning with Jesus after the yet to occur resurrection, he could not be referring to Christ’s faithful followers. The world experienced what Christian rule was like. In the end, the Church ruling empire was not very Christ-like, just ask Martin Luther, John Calvin, or any of the dearly beheaded.

John may have meant that when Jesus returns he will reign over the kings of the earth. This would conform to the Hebrew prophets, the gospels, epistles, and Revelation 11:15-19.

However, I believe John is making a literal declaration not merely a prophetic one, which is supported by the gospels and epistles as well.

For Jesus to rule of the kings of the earth, Satan would have to loose his right and authority to do so. Jesus never disputed Satan’s right or authority to give him authority over all the kingdoms of the earth. (Mt. 4; Lk. 4) In fact, Jesus acknowledges the rule of Satan over the world. (Jo. 14:30; 12:31) The apostle Paul also acknowledged this rule. (Eph. 2:1-2) The thing to notice is this: Satan’s rule over the earth was from heaven, but he was thrown out of heaven to the earth. (Rev. 12:7-11; Jo. 12:31) The mission of Jesus was not just to restore willing humans the benevolent rule and kingdom of God. His mission also was to destroy Satan’s works and end his right to rule over repentant humanity. (1 Jo. 3:8; Heb. 2:14) Jesus accomplished the first by dying to satisfy justice fully for our moral crimes against God’s law. Having paid that price, he accomplished the second when God raised from the dead and gave him all of the authority both in heaven and on earth (Mt. 28:18). Paul describes this best in his letter to the Colossians:

For [God] rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins…. When [Jesus] had disarmed the rulers and authorities, he made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through [God]. (Col. 1:13; 2:15)

Everyone throughout the Roman Empire would have understood Paul’s meaning. It was common practice by the Roman generals to parade before all leaders and citizens of Rome the kings and leaders of conquered peoples and nations. All who read or heard Paul’s words understood that Jesus not only defeated his enemies but that he and heaven celebrated Satan’s and his followers humiliating defeat.

According to Peter, Jesus could not ascend to the throne of God until after angels, authorities, and powers had been subjected to him. (1 Pe. 3:22)

This may explain why Jesus appeared off- and-on to the disciples for forty days before his ascension. (Ac. 1:3, 9-11)

Paul further explains that after his resurrection, Jesus, the firstborn of all creation, created anew all spiritual and physical positions of authority and their powers. (Col. 1:16) This means no matter how many may rebel against the order and authority of Jesus’ rule the world will in the end bow to his world order. (Php. 2:9-11)

Though Jesus has authority over all powers as well as over all flesh (Jo. 17:2), but not all spirits or humans intend to submit to the kingly rule of Jesus Christ. The republican form of constitutional democracy may very well have reflected the rule of Lord Jesus. It certainly was shaped and informed by biblical principles. The noble idea of a nation that shines the biblical based light of law and freedom may have inspired many peoples; but,today, national and global trends indicate a determination not toward a messianic world but rather toward the kind worthy of judgment as previewed in Revelation.

The new types of ruler and kings of the earth cannot win by opposing the biblical reign of God’s risen Messiah. They certainly will never create a world of peace, justice, and prosperity for all by following the model of Rome or Satan. As any ruler worthy of the title, Jesus will have the last word concerning all of their schemes and plans.

Jesus died so that all of us could have an abundant life in good standing with the Supreme Judge of the world. Therefore, he is adamantly opposed to the abundance of choices for death, immorality, and injustice–social, economic, or any other kind. The wisest choice would be for a culture oriented to life, which is by definition messianic, and Jesus–a Jew–still agrees even after 2,000 years.

Sabbath Discussions : On Revelation, the Book 2

Today, I was not absent in body but I was also there in mind and spirit. Some might say I was not all there are usual. Nevertheless, Pastor John preached on that wonderfully depressing book entitled “Ecclesiastes.” You know the one that says your life is meaningless dust and all of your accomplishments are insignificant chaff in the wind. Fortunately, Pastor John is a very good communicator of God’s word, which means his message was great and his punch line superb. My meager attempt to summarize his message is this: If nature reclaims everything, what’s the point of all of the stuff accumulated over the years? What’s the point of all the hard work and the grand or not so grand accomplishments? Most likely all of it will return to dust and be forgotten. His superb punch line goes something like this: Stuff is temporal but people are forever. A good meaningful life now and for eternity is achieved only through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. In other words, a life of endless enjoyment first experienced by Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden will one day be restored by Jesus Christ. That is the counter-point to the bleak reality portrayed in Ecclesiastes. (By the way, the garden may be located in Jerusalem.)

Although Pastor John’s message on Ecclesiastes was certainly inspiring, I think I will avoid delving into the dark mental space of the wise son of King David. Instead, I want to continue with last week’s discussion about the often confusing and image rich book of Revelation.

John, who wrote down this prophetic panorama of our future, was only one of at least seven persons who collaborated on the publication of Revelation. God was the primary source and Jesus was the divine intermediary showing John what would occur in human history. There were others. For example, Jesus’ angel, other angels, and ruling elders assisted Jesus in showing what God wants all of us to know and understand.

One of the things God’s want us all to comprehend is the benefits of this prophecy. Unlike many books of the Bible, there are specifically stated benefits in reading, hearing, remembering, doing, and living the content of God’s revelation through Jesus the Messiah. John states it this way:

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things that are written in it; for the time is near. (Rev. 1:3)

As mentioned last week, the time is near but how near is a matter of perspective. One day is as a thousand year and a thousand years is as one day to God. Adding to this perspective is the phrase often used by Jesus during his earthly ministry: The kingdom of God is at hand (or near). The eternal kingdom of God is as near as the ever present Spirit of God, and yet it seems too many that God is usually remote. Jesus, however, meant that because those who saw and heard what God had specially directed him to say and do they were also under a directive of God whose presence and rule had approached them. Also implied was the promise of God’s coming reign over Israel and world was approaching. It was time for its fulfillment. Like the Jews during Jesus earthly days, all of us are confronted by the revelation of Jesus with a decision whether to enter the kingdom rule of God and His Son Jesus. As the Psalmist sang,

The rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His
Anointed, saying, “Let us tear their
fetters apart and cast away there
bands from us!”

The Lord scoffs at them, saying,
“But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My Holy mountain.”
[And to His King,] You are My Son,
Today I have begotten you.”
Now therefore, worship the Lord with
reverence and … do homage to the Son….
(Ps. 2:2-4, 6, 7, 12)

In other words, the kingdom is still at hand and the time is even nearer than before. In order to benefit from entering God’s kingdom now under the lordship of Jesus, you must first know the laws of the kingdom, maintain good relations with the King, and continue doing God’s will, but I’m getting ahead of the subject at hand.

The benefits promised to those who read, hear, heed the words of Revelation are unique. You will find them listed in the messages to the 7 churches, in the rewards for overcoming mentioned in 6: 9-17; 7:9-8:5 (and beyond); 14:12-17; 20:4; 20:11-15; and 21-22. The key to overcoming is seen in chapter 12 and verse 11, which states:

They overcame … because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their love their loves even when faced with death.

In the Bible, blessed does not necessarily mean everything will be hunky dory. In the Sermon on the Mount, happy and blessed are synonyms for the same Greek word. (Mat. 5-7) Yet happy and blessed does not necessary mean happy, prosperous, tranquil, or life without problems. In most cases, blessed means the state of a right relationship with God in the present through past obedience to His laws and justice that will ultimate lead to future good including love, peace, joy, righteousness, wholeness, and prosperity for all eternity. Momentary pain, problems, or lack does not reflect on the present state of blessedness in the kingdom of Christ and God. This is even clearer in Luke’s gospel (6:20-46).

Some other scriptures that help clarify the meaning of the blessed life are Lk. 12:43; Jas. 1:12; Mat. 16:17; Rom. 4:8; Rev. 16:15. In these verses, we find a slave will be blessed (and not condemned) when his master returns from a trip and finds him doing what the master wanted. According to James, blessed is every man who perseveres under trial. Such trials prove one’s faith. Once approved, that man will receive the crown of life as promised by the Lord. A person is blessed while going through struggles with overcoming as the end goal. Remaining faithful to God is what overcoming means.

There are other aspects of the blessed state. For example, Paul declared a man blessed whose sins (moral crimes) are not held against him (Rom. 4:8). James also taught that the man who lives according to the perfect law of liberty of God is blessed (Jas.1:25). Simon Peter was blessed because God had revealed to him that Jesus was His Son, the Anointed One (Mat. 16:17). God wants the same for all people.

Here is a real puzzle: “Behold, I am coming like a thief in the night. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and others see his or her shame.” (Rev. 16:15)

Does this mean we must always go to bed with our clothes on lest Jesus returns and everyone see us naked? I think this refers to what Paul taught us and that was to put on the likeness of Christ like a garment. (Rom. 13:14; Eph. 4:20-24; Col. 3:10). This is the white garment mentioned in Revelation.

So, how do we obtain the benefits promised in Revelation?

  1. &nbsp: Read the book. What is written is meant to be understood. Like the Jews who read the book of the God’s law every Sabbath, they still did not understand God’s intentions and plan, according to Paul (2 Cor. 3:15; Ac.13:27; 15:27)
  2.   Understand the book. Hear it words. Listen to the voice of God. Understanding is a gift of the Spirit of God (1 Jo. 2:20-21). Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom.10:17). The just shall live by faith (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38). Righteousness is the fruit of faith in Jesus Christ.
  3.   Heed or keep remembering and living the God-given directives of this prophecy. This is what Jesus meant when he told his disciples that they must remain in the vine (Jo. 15:1-6). “If my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (Jo. 15:7). Why? Because it means those who do keep God’s commandments and the faith and testimony of Jesus. (Jo. 15:10; Rev. 14:12; 12:17)

Sabbath Discussions: On Revelation, the Book

Although absent in body, I was present at church both in spirit and in mind. Thank God for the gift of radio. The preacher to whom I was listening made to me an astounding confession: He found the book of Revelation confusing.

I usually enjoy a challenge and for this one I’m prepared. I have been studying the book of Revelation for over a year.

A wise person years ago told me that the best way to start something is at the beginning. This is the place at which I begin my discussion of this image and allusion rich book of prophecy.

A good way to begin a discussion about a book is about its author: who is the author of Revelation and what was his purpose? This book was a collaborative effort of no less than 7 persons. The collaborative group of authors introduced in the very first sentence:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and he sent and communicated it by his angel to his bond-servant John. (Rev. 1:1)

The above text shows us that God is the primary source of this fascinating revelation. He gave it to Jesus who sent his angel to communicate it to John who in turn wrote it down.

Anyone familiar with the gospel of John has already recognized the excitement of John about receiving this prophecy. John was excited because receiving this revelation was affirmation that Jesus’ promises were still true. Jesus gave John and the other disciples a promise that would occur after his death and resurrection. Here is the promise:

When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (Jo. 16:13)

If you read on, you will discover that Jesus explains that God gave him all things and because of this, the Spirit would take what was his and disclose it to them. (Jo. 16:15) That is what John was describing in his introduction.

You may be wondering about the other collaborators not mentioned above. Who are the other three? In addition to God, Jesus, and his angel, the Spirit of God is a fifth. It was the Spirit that enabled John to pass beyond the vale of the flesh into the realm of heaven and the future. (Rev. 1:10; 4:1-2) It is apparent that being in the Spirit does not always result in glossolalia (speaking in tongues 🙂

Another collaborator in the publication of this book is one of the 24 ruling elders who basically tells John to whining about the sealed book. (Rev. 5:4-5)

There also seems to be another angel who instructs John. This angels angel first instructs him about one of the beasts and a harlot who rides it (Rev. 17; 19:10) and later shows John the bride of Christ, the heavenly city, and the tree of life (Rev. 21-22). If this is meant to be two separate angels, then the consistent numerological symbol 7 ceased. I think it more probable that John could not tell the difference between the different angels. Consequently, the last angel was most likely the same as the previous, which again would fit the use of 7 in this Revelation of biblical allusions and symbolism.

The purpose of this collaborative work is indicated in the first verse of John’s introduction and elaborated on later in the chapter. The simplified version is “the things which must soon take place.” In verse 3, these things are called prophecy. Elaborating further, Jesus says to John, “Write the things you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things” (v. 19). As our discussion progresses, you will see that the latter words also serve as general headings of the outline or as markers for this multi-authored book. The nearness of Christ’s return is also mentioned. (Rev. 1:3, 7, 19)

This hope cannot be extinguished if it is remembered that to God one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day. The kingdom of God is still at hand and His coming is drawing nearer each new year, but according to the Jewish calender this is the 5769th year.

Occupy until I do come, said Jesus. (Lk. 19:13 KJV).

Source: NASB except were noted otherwise.