February 7, 2016

A Few Thoughts on the Book of Revelation


I must admit the book of Revelation is not a fun read. There is a dragon and a beast. Filth, desolation and a lake of fire. Things I don't want to think about. But having read it several times through the years, I'm finding each time I do, I learn something new.

I feel a little silly about this, but I've always thought it was called the book of 'Revelations' not the book of 'Revelation' singular. This made all the difference in how I read it this time. It's not a book of 'revelations' per-say, on the end times, but rather a book that reveals our Savior, Jesus Christ, in His fullness of glory. It's about Him and His plan.

Oswald Chambers says of reading the book of Revelation:

"If we are ever going to understand the Book of Revelation we have to remember that it gives the programme of God, not the guess of a man. 'Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.' (Rev. 1:19) The Apostle is writing what the Spirit revealed to him - that is the origin of the Book."

It's Jesus warning the churches. Jesus judging the nations. Jesus saving His people. Jesus reigning on high, appointed by His Father.

You can not read this book with pride in your heart...you just won't get it. It must be read humbly before God and you must be ready to see and hear who He is.

John MacArthur explains, the book of Revelation, well here:

"Unlike most books of the Bible, Revelation contains its own title: 'The Revelation of Jesus Christ' (1:1). 'Revelation' (Gr., apokalupsis) means 'an uncovering,' 'an unveiling,' or 'a disclosure.' In the NT, this word describes the unveiling of spiritual truth (Rom. 16:25; Gal. 1:12; Eph. 1:17; 3:3), the revealing of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19), Christ's incarnation (Luke 2:32), and His glorious appearing at His second coming (2 Thess. 1:7; Pet. 1:7). In all its uses, 'revelation' refers to something or someone, once hidden, becoming visible. 

What this book reveals or unveils is Jesus Christ in glory. Truths about Him and his final victory, that the rest of Scripture merely alludes to, become clearly visible through revelation about Jesus Christ. This revelation was given to Him by God the Father, and it was communicated to the Apostle John by an angel (1:1)."

The first three chapters are Jesus, Himself, speaking to John about the 7 churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. This part really spoke to me more than it ever has. The church today is in great need of hearing and obeying what Jesus says here. I needed to hear and be reminded.

Jesus says to John:

"Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.

I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this." Rev. 1:17-19

I recently discovered the meaning of the word 'amen' which means, 'so be it, it is true, literally... truth.' Doesn't that bring more depth to what Jesus is saying here? He is confirming that what He says is truth.

He is forevermore alive!

In the rest of the book, John is hearing from an angel. In chapter 19 John is overwhelmed and begins to worship the angel.

"And I fell at his feet to worship him."

Then the angel said to him:

"See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Rev. 19:10

This is an important point to remember..."For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy"...The Testimony of Jesus.

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. This book is about Him. Worship not the messenger, but God alone.

Mathew Henry in his commentary of Revelation 19 says here:

"He (the angel) gave a very good reason for his refusal: 'I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren which have the testimony of Jesus-I am a creature, thine equal in office, though not in nature; I, as an angel and messenger of God, have the testimony of Jesus, a charge to be a witness for Him and to testify concerning Him, and thou, as an apostle, having the Spirit of prophecy, hast the same testimony to give in; and therefore we are in this brethren and fellow-servants.' He directs him to the true and only object of religious worship; namely, God: 'Worship God, and Him alone."

The angel is telling John that they are both servants of Christ, both created by God, both testifying concerning Jesus, having the same Spirit of prophecy and same testimony to give. They are fellow servants to God. He, the angel, is not to be worshiped, only God and Him alone.

This was very moving for me, because...

This was John, the beloved John.

Some believe he was the closest disciple and friend to Jesus, and yet he began to worship the angel! How easily it is for us all to become idolatrous!

Even John!

I found this so humbling as I thought of how pitiful we are before Christ and yet... His love for us never fails, His mercy is new every morning and His grace is all sufficient. 

He is our righteousness.

The apostle Paul says here:

"Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me." Phl. 3:8-12

After John fell at the feet of the angel and began to worship, did God turn away? Did He condemn him?

No.

He lovingly corrected him, through the words of the angel,  "See that you do not do that!" and like Paul in Philippians, John pressed on because he knew he was being perfected by the One who is his righteousness.


If you are reluctant to read the book of Revelation, think of it this way...it's a book that reveals the Savior, the One who has chosen and saved all that follow Him.

In Revelation 17:14 it says:

"These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful." 

I don't claim to know all the meanings of this book, but I do know it reveals to me my Savior's true nature. That He is God and He reigns and will reign in glory forever.



*Note - John MacArthur quote found HERE
*Note - Oswald Chambers quote from this BOOK

 

January 29, 2016

5 books on my future reading list

The Accidental Feminist 

As a Christian, I long to be a woman of God. What does this mean? Should a Godly woman stand up for her rights? Where does feminism come in when serving God, or does it at all?

This book looks very encouraging and I'm looking forward to reading it soon.

Goodreads says of it here:

"Many Christian women wouldn't identify themselves as "feminists." However, according to Courtney Reissig, we've all been influenced by the feminist movement in profound ways, unconsciously reflecting our culture's notions about what it means to be a woman. 

Helping readers navigate a wise path in the midst of a confused world, this book chronicles the journey of a wife, mom, and successful writer as she recounts her journey from "accidental feminism" to a biblical view of womanhood. Filled with wise insights related to relationships, body image, and women's roles in the home and the church, this thought-provoking book will help Christian women carefully consider these important issues."




Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice Illustrated

'Pride and Prejudice' is one of the few novels I've read more than once, and when I saw this beautifully illustrated version, I decided it was time to read it again. : )

The 'Book Depository' website says of the book:

"A beguiling and modern illustrated edition of a classic tale. 

The Classics Reimagined series is a library of stunning collector's editions of classic novels illustrated by contemporary artists from around the world. 

Each artist offers his or her own unique, visual interpretation of the most well-loved, widely read, and avidly collected literature from renowned authors. From Grimm's Fairy Tales to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and from Edgar Allen Poe to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, art lovers and book collectors alike will not be able to resist owning the whole collection. 

Enjoy Jane Austen's witty novel of love and misunderstanding as you've never seen it before! Alice Pattullo's colorful interpretation of Pride and Prejudice follows the romantic adventures of Bennett sisters, Mr. Bingley and his dour friend Mr. Darcy. Her folkloric, multi-faceted images, breathe new life into this engaging romantic novel, making it a collectible for book and art lovers every where."




Visual Theology

I am so excited to get this book! I'm a visual learner and these kinds of books are often rare to find. It comes out this April.

Tim Challies says of his book here:

"We live in a visual culture. Today, people increasingly rely upon visuals to help them understand new and difficult concepts. The rise and popularity of the Internet infographic has given us a new way to convey data, concepts, and ideas. 

But the visual portrayal of truth is not a novel idea. 

God himself used visuals to teach truth to his people. If you have ever considered the different elements within the Old Testament tabernacle or temple you know that each element was a visual representation of a greater truth. The sacrificial system and later the cross were also meant to be visual—visual theology."




Mozart's Sister

I've loved all the novels I've read in Nancy Moser's  'Women of History' series, 'Just Jane' (Jane Austen), 'Washington's Lady' (Martha Washington) and 'How Do I Love Thee' (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

Now I'm looking forward to reading this final one about Mozart's sister, Nannerl.

The author says of the book on her website:

"In 1763, 11-year-old Nannerl Mozart performed before the crowned heads of Europe with her younger brother, Wolfgang.

But behind the glamour lurked dark difficulties-the hardship of travel, agonizing bouts of illness, and the constant concern over money. Their father, Leopold, is driven by a desire to bring his son's genius to the attention of the world.

But what about Nannerl? Was she not just as talented? In a time where women's choices are limited, what hope did she have of ever realizing her own dreams?"




The Things of Earth

How do we enjoy the gifts God has given, without becoming  idolatrous? I admit I've struggled with this. Sometimes feeling guilt for the things I have and other times feeling guilt for not being thankful!

I'm looking forward to some good advice from this book.

Amazon says of it here:
 
"Ice-cold lemonade. The laughter of children. College football. Scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. But what happens to these earthly pleasures when Jesus shows up? Do the things of earth grow strangely dim? Or does he shine in all that's fair?

In this book, Joe Rigney offers a breath of fresh air to Christians who are burdened by false standards, impossible expectations, and misguided notions of holiness. 

Steering a middle course between idolatry on the one hand and ingratitude on the other, this much-needed book reminds us that every good gift comes from the Father's hand, that God's blessings should drive us to worship and generosity, and that a passion for God's glory is as wide as the world."



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