New And Improved

Revelation 21:1
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.”

Revelation 21 begins the final section of the book. Pastor, preacher, theologian, and early radio pioneer Donald Barnhouse put it like this, “In this chapter we see that the history of time is finished; the history of eternity is about to begin.” Just as Jesus promised, the heavens and earth have passed away, and in its place a new heaven and earth have been created. The word ‘new’ carries the idea of what we might call “new and improved.” Just as our heavenly bodies will be superior to our earthly ones, so will the new heaven and earth be far beyond anything we ever experienced here. John goes on to describe just a little of what we have to look forward to.

Heaven is a place where we will experience fellowship with God. No more will we look at God through the stained glass of human experience. Today our understanding of who God is, and how He feels about us, is often confused by the difficulties we face. Some, because of difficulties in their past, have a hard time relating to God as father. Others, because of pain, struggle to understand His love. The day is coming, when we will dwell with Him and see Him as He really is. This is the essence of God’s desire and man’s purpose. God desires to live in close fellowship with man, and man’s purpose is to be the people of God.

Heaven is a perfect community. All sin, and everything that defiles, is removed from heaven, and we will live in perfect harmony with one another. The idea of heaven being a lonely, isolated, and boring place, where we go through eternity as ghoulish figures without purpose, is totally foreign to the Bible. Heaven will be a place of community. We will sit together with the heroes of old, our saved friends, and our loved ones, and forever be in the presence of the Lord. Heaven will include feasting and celebrating, with those from every nation, tribe and tongue, as we experience glories that this life could never reveal.

John is reminded that entrance to heaven is solely for those whose names are in the Book of Life. The only way to ensure that your name is there, is by placing your trust in Christ for salvation. If you have never done so, pray right now, “Jesus I ask you to come into my life and forgive me of my sin. I want you to be my Savior and Lord.”

If you have prayed this prayer contact us at ccvb.net

Pastor Jim

Questions for Revelation 21

Up until this point we have seen the church age, the scene in heaven after the rapture, all of the judgments of the Great Tribulation, the Second Coming of Christ, His millennial reign upon the earth, and the final judgment of Satan and all who opposed God. Having removed His enemies we now take a look at the New Heaven and Earth. 
1. Read verse 1-5. Why do you think that God is starting all over with a brand new Heaven and Earth? 

2. In verse 2 we see New Jerusalem. Galatians 4:26 and Hebrews 12:22 are suggestive of this city. What three things does this verse tell us about this city? We will see more of this city later in this chapter starting in verse 9. 

3. In verse 3 we read of God being with His people. Read Matthew 1:23, and John 14:16-17. How has He been with us already? 

4. Note verses 4-5. If you are going through great difficulty or pain in your life right now, take heart. God will bring it to an end and will comfort you. 

5. In Revelation 18 we saw the fall of the world’s economic system, which could be summed up as everything has a price, even the bodies and souls of men. Look at verses 6-7. What is the economic system of the Kingdom? 

6. In verses 9-10 we learn more of the heavenly city New Jerusalem. What does verse 9 tell us of those who live there? Look up Ephesians 5:25-32 for how Jesus cares for His bride, the church. 

7. Verses 11-21 give a fantastic description of some of the details of this city! Heaven will be amazing, and God gives us these pictures of it for us to be encouraged by the good that is coming. It is right and good for us to look forward to heaven. Do you? 

8. In verses 22-23, what two things are missing from the temple? What takes the place of these things? 

9. Note verses 24-27. What things are brought into this city? What can never be brought in? We should always be thankful to Jesus that He has removed our sin from us at the cross, or we would never be able to enter heaven. If you have never put your trust in Jesus and His work at the cross, do so now, and the doors of heaven will be open for you! 


Old Testament:
Daniel 5- Sky Writing
Daniel 6- Exonerated

End Of The Road

Revelation 20:12
“And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”

Have you ever heard someone say, “All roads lead to God”?  While it is not true, according to Jesus Himself, that all roads lead to heaven, it is true, all roads lead to God. Whatever road you choose to travel in this life, it ultimately ends at the throne of God. John explains that he saw every person who had ever lived, the good, the bad, and the ugly, all standing before the throne of God and awaiting judgment for sin. There is no road you can travel that will not ultimately lead to the throne of God. Even those who stubbornly resist the Spirit of God and refuse to accept Him, will stand before this throne, along with those who refuse to believe He even exists. There is no way of escaping the throne, but there is a way of avoiding judgment.

John records that a book was opened which contained a list of all the sins that each person had ever committed. One sin is enough to condemn, and every sin is recorded. However, there is a second book; the Book of Life, which contains the names of all who have received Christ and His forgiveness of sin. Those whose names are in the Book of Life have had all the charges against them erased. Paul put it like this,

Colossians 2:14 “. . . having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

The most important decision you will ever make is the one regarding Jesus. If you choose to accept Him as Savior and Lord, your sins will be forgiven and you will be excluded from judgment. If you choose to reject Him, for whatever reason, you are left in your sin. One day you will stand before the throne of God and the book of deeds will be opened, read, and you will be sentenced. It seems like a pretty straightforward decision. Joshua put it like this;

Joshua 24:15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Pastor Jim

Questions for Revelation 20

The title of this book is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. In the last chapter, we saw Jesus revealed at his Second Coming as King of Kings and Lord of Lords to the world that rejected Him. As this age comes to an end, we see many things in this chapter that are unlike anything we’ve seen before 
1. Read verses 1-3. After Christ’s return what happens to Satan? Why? For how long? 

2. Read verse 4-5. Although this group of people (martyred tribulation saints, now resurrected) is given authority to rule, they are not the only ones. In other places in the Scripture, we see that the saints in general will hold this position (Revelation 2:26, 3:12, 22, 1 Corinthians 6:2-3). If you are currently being persecuted in any way, take heart. There is coming a time when Jesus will reward you and set things right. 

3. Read verse 6. How long will these saints rule with Jesus? 

4. Read verse 7-9 what will happen at the end of the thousand years? Why? This is a final demonstration of the depravity of man. Even after a thousand years of Christ’s wonderful rule, with Satan bound and his influence removed, many people will still align against God at the first chance they get. Look up Jeremiah 17:9. 

5. In verse 10 we see Satan’s final end. Where does he end up? 

6. In verse 11 we see a Great White Throne. What is the response of heaven and earth to this throne? There are many people who in their arrogance defy God, and say accusatory things like “When I see God I’m going to ask Him why He…?” Before the Great White throne, man will clearly see his place before his Creator. Look up Hebrews 4:13 and 10:31. 

7. Read verses 12-13. Notice the books that are opened: The Book of Life, and books. It would seem that these other books are records of the works of men. Man in his pride often will say something to the effect of “I’m a pretty good guy. My good deeds will get me into heaven.” However, only having our sin forgiven by Jesus gets us into the Book of Life, and heaven. Read Ephesians 2:8-9. 

8. Read verses 14-15. Who/what is cast into the lake of fire (where the devil already is)? Look up Matthew 25:41. Who was the lake of fire originally made for? What causes men to end up there? Read John 3:36. If you have never asked Jesus to forgive your sin and give you eternal life, do it now. 


Old Testament:
Daniel 3- What Would You Do?
Daniel 4- He Reigns

Wedding Day

Revelation 19:1
“After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Alleluia!’”

Revelation 19:3
“Again they said, ‘Alleluia!’”

Revelation 19:4
“And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, ‘Amen! Alleluia!’”

Revelation 19:5
“Then a voice came from the throne, saying, ‘Praise our God,’

Revelation 19:6
“Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”

Revelation 19:7
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come,. . .”

In Revelation 19, the scene in heaven is one of exuberant praise. We read of a great multitude joining in worship, and giving glory to the Lord. While there are many reasons to worship God, their praise stems from the fact that the marriage supper of the Lamb has come. To help us understand the relationship we have with God, the Bible uses a number of illustrations. We are referred to as the ‘children of God’, the ‘body of Christ’, the ‘church’, or ‘assembly of those who have been called out of the world’. Perhaps the most intimate of all is when the Bible refers to the Christian as “the bride of Christ.” Paul wrote to the Corinthians,

“For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2

In ancient Jewish culture, the greatest of all celebrations was the wedding feast. The same is often true today. Being a pastor, I have an interesting perspective at weddings. As the congregation turns to watch the bride enter the room, I usually turn and look at the face of the groom. It is amazing to see his face the moment he sees her, and watch him fill with joy. There are times when the joy becomes so great, tears fill his eyes. In those times, I cannot help but think of the joy in the face of Jesus, when He is finally reunited with His bride; and we will forever be with the Lord.

In ancient times, when a man and woman committed to marry one another, they would be betrothed. Betrothal, unlike engagement, involved being legal bound. It was not something that was cast aside on a whim, but would require a legal document in order to bring it to an end. When you received Christ, you were betrothed to Him. While the wedding day and it’s celebration remain in our future, we are bound to Him by love. He is in heaven, anticipating the day when we will be united with Him. We should live on earth with that same anticipation.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Revelation 19

After 13 chapters of the Great Tribulation, we now come to its end. As world as we know it is coming to an end and Jesus returns to rule and reign upon the earth. 
1. Look at verse 1. What four things belong to God? Notice in particular, that Salvation belongs to Him. God alone saves. 

2. In verses 2-4 we see the reaction in heaven at the final judgment of the world. How would you describe heaven’s reaction? Why? 

3. A voice speaks from the throne in verses 5-7. In verses 5-6 what honors are ascribed to God? 

4. Notice verse 7 and 9. What special event is being mentioned in these verses? Look up Ephesians 5:25-33. What is our (the church’s) relationship with Jesus? 

5. Verse 10 tells us something very important about prophecy (God speaking through man). What is it? 

6. In verses 11-16 we see that Jesus Himself leads the armies of heaven to lay His rightful claim to this earth. List as many things as you can that these verses teach you about Jesus. 

7. In verses 17-21, we see all the nations of the earth aligned against God. Read Psalm 2. What will their fight against God come to? 


Old Testament:
Daniel 1- Start To Finish
Daniel 2- Kingdoms Will Rise And Fall

Get Out

Revelation 18:4
“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.’”

As John begins to describe the fall of Babylon the Great, he hears a cry from heaven calling the people of God to come out, and no longer share in its sins. Babylon here is referring to more than a city in modern Iraq, it refers to the world system that is opposed to the ways of God. The call then is for the people of God to leave the ways of the world, to live in step with the ways of God. This is not a one time call, but is repeated time and again within the pages of your Bible. We were saved, not to continue in a destructive lifestyle, practicing the things that Jesus died to free us from, but to live a new life on a higher plain, where we seek in every area of life to bring pleasure to God.

Galatians 1:3-4 “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,  . . .”

Christ died, not only to forgive sin, but to provide deliverance for all who come to Him. When we put faith in Christ, the chains that once bound us to a life of sin have been broken. We no longer have to be like shrub in the desert, barely surviving in life, but we can be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, bearing fruit in its season.

Have you come to Christ? Have you asked Him to wash you of your sin and give you new life? That is the first step; the second is to come out of the world and stop partaking in practices that do not please Him. Don’t wait another moment,

“Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”

Pastor Jim

Questions for Revelation 18

Although there was an actual city known as Babylon, metaphorically throughout the bible Babylon represents the “world system” that is aligned against God and against His anointed King, Jesus. At the pouring out of the seventh and final bowl judgment that fall of Babylon begins. In the last chapter we saw the fall of spiritual Babylon; the collective religious system that man commits himself to rather than to God. In this chapter we see the fall of financial Babylon, or all of the ways that man looks to the wealth and provision of this world for his joy and satisfaction, instead of looking to Jesus. 
1. Read verse 3. Are there any nations that are innocent of “going to bed” with Babylon? Notice the imagery: intoxication, adultery, and self-indulgent pleasure. 

2. In verse 4, we see God’s instruction for His people in the midst of this world. Read 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, Exodus 33:16, 1 Corinthians 5:9-12, and Matthew 5:13-16. What is our heart attitude to be toward this world? What is our heart attitude to be toward the people of this world? 

3. Read verses 5-8. Does this world feel that it will ever be judged? Will God forget to judge her? Look up Galatians 6:7 and 2 Peter 3:1-10. 

4. In verses 9-10 we see how those who do not know God relate to the world. Would you say that they have a casual relationship with the world or an intimate one? Are they emotionally invested in this world system? 

5. Verses 11-19 point to the complete financial collapse of the world’s economic system. Note the end of verse 13. In this world even people’s souls have a price. Look up Matthew 16:26. 

6. Look at verse 14, 17 and 19. What does the pursuit of this world’s riches and pleasure come to? 

7. Notice verses 20 and 24. God will not ignore the wrongs this world has committed against His people. God will judge this world. Since we know how it ends, take inventory in your own life. Have you given your heart to any of these things that are passing away? If you have, ask God to forgive you and give you a new heart concerning the things of His Kingdom which will never pass away

Old Testament: 

Ezekiel 47- River Of Life

Ezekiel 48- Your Land

Book Of Life

Revelation 17:8
“…And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world…”

As the angel explains the images John sees, he makes reference to the Book of Life. This book is mentioned again, in Revelation 20:15, as the guest list of heaven. All, whose names are written in this Book, will have access to heaven; those who do not, will be cast out to eternal judgment. If there is one thing you want to be certain of in this life, it is that your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The question is, how do we get our names in that Book?

The Bible is very clear. Salvation is received free of charge, when we put our trust in Jesus Christ. It is something that cannot be acquired any other way. Jesus declared, He is the way, and no one could go to heaven apart from Him (John 14:6). Therefore, it is clear, our names are placed in the Book of Life when we put our trust in Christ for salvation. Since Jesus said He knows those who are His and no one can snatch them out of His hand (John 10:27-28), we conclude that our names are not written in pencil, ready to be erased at our first failure or doubt. They are written in permanent ink; we might even say, they are written in the blood of God. That being said, there is another interesting thought presented by the angel, as he refers to the Book of Life.

“…whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world…”

The angel suggests our names were actually written in the Book of Life from before the foundation of the world. Before we existed, before we sinned, before we cried out to Christ for salvation, our names were already written in the Book. This suggests that God has every intention and desire that you and I should go to heaven. Jesus said He was preparing a place for us (John 14:3), and all we need to do to ensure our arrival is put our trust in Christ. How tragic, that some resist the grace of God, ignore the message of the Cross, deny the pleading of their loved ones, and end up with their names removed from the book; all because they were unwilling to bend their knee in surrender to Jesus. The only thing that can remove your name from the Book is a failure to accept the forgiveness Christ provides.

Don’t let that be you.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Revelation 17

Verses 6-16 have detailed the time known as the Great Tribulation. We have seen many terrible judgments poured out on the Christ rejecting world. Several times we have seen the city Babylon mentioned. Here we will see the details of her fall. This chapter is another that is loaded with symbolism. As usual it is important that we give priority to what is clear, not what is unclear. Although Babylon was an actual city, when the Bible speaks of Babylon, the vast majority of the time it is speaking of the world system that is aligned against God. The “world” as opposed to the kingdom of heaven and God’s city of Jerusalem.

  1. Look at verses 1-2. What is this woman guilty of? The fornication mentioned here is a spiritual unfaithfulness to God as her creator. Notice especially the effect she has on others. Also see Rev 14:8 
  2. In verses 3-6 many details of this woman: 
    a. In verse 3, what is the beast that she rides full of? 

    b. Notice the wealth of the woman in verse 4. She is very comfortable. What is her golden cup full of? 

    c. Perhaps the most important thing about her is her name. What is her relationship with spiritual adultery toward God? 

    d. In verse 6, how does she feel about the persecution of God’s people? 
  3. Verses 7-13 seem to speak of Babylon’s rule upon the earth. The most important thing to note is verse 13. How does Babylon and the people of her kingdom relate to God. Read James 4:4. How should we relate to this world? 
  4. In verse 14 we see that this attitude ultimately leads to an outright war with God. What will the results of this war be? 
  5. Read verse 15 and 18. This show the global influence of Babylon. As Christians it is so important that we align ourselves with God and the values of His kingdom as revealed in His Word. Read Romans 12:1-2. Also read Philippians 2:14-16, and ask God for help to live this way. 


Old Testament:
Ezekiel 45- Government
Ezekiel 46- Changes

Armageddon

Revelation 16:16
“And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.”

A few years ago, I had the privilege of standing on Tel Megiddo, the ruins of the ancient city of Megiddo. It overlooks, what is often referred to as, the valley of Armageddon. The experience was almost surreal. As I stood there, contemplating the events described in Revelation 16, I could see smoke rising in the distance, from tires being burned in protest to the fighting in Gaza and southern Israel. The silence of the moment was suddenly interrupted as the entire valley was filled with the roar of an Israeli fighter jet flying past. It was not difficult to imagine what the scene will be like when men gather in one last effort to eradicate God. Hundreds of years before Revelation was written, the Bible prophesied of this event.

Psalm 2:1-3
“Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”

I have always looked at this as the epitome of folly. Men, in rebellious pride, gather to do battle with God, who loves them so much He gave His own Son to save them. Up to this point in Revelation, judgment has been poured out in measures. We read of a fraction of the population being judged, allowing for the remainder to respond to the mercy of God. Yet, we also read time and again, that the inhabitants of the earth refuse to repent. Instead of being drawn to God, many become hardened toward Him. That hardness ultimately reveals itself in mobilizing for battle, to rid themselves of the influence of God, once and for all. In light of this, the second Psalm closes with some valuable advice.

Psalm 2:12
“Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”

Instead of hardening our hearts to God, because of the things that we do not understand, or the raw deal we feel life has dealt us, we should accept His merciful plea and draw near to Him. Much of the difficulty we ascribe to God, is actually an extension of His loving kindness, seeking to draw us into relationship with Him.

Will you draw near to Him today?

Pastor Jim

Questions for Revelation 16

Up until this point in the tribulation, we have seen seven seals and seven trumpets. Now we will see the final set of judgments before the end of the tribulation and the return of Jesus: the seven bowl judgments. 


1. Look at verse 1. What is in these bowls? 

2. As you read through the chapter the seven bowl judgments are poured out. Here’s a list of the effects of each one. 
a. The first bowl produces a rash/skin sore that will fall on almost all of mankind, everyone who accepted the mark of the beast. 
b. The second and third bowls completely pollute the natural water sources on the earth, to the extent that sea life is wiped out. 
c. The fourth plague brings out atmospheric conditions that result in a true global warming, with painful consequences upon the people of the earth. 
d. The fifth plague brings darkness. Perhaps this is clouds, and may be related to whatever is causing the temperature change 
e. The sixth causes a river to dry up to make way for a massive invading force against Israel 
f. The seventh causes the greatest earthquake the world has ever seen. 


3. Notice verses 5 and 6. What elements of God’s character are revealed in these verses? As harsh as these bowl judgments are, it is good to remember that He has saved these judgments until the very end, giving man every opportunity to repent. Read 2Peter 3:8-10. 

4. God does want men to repent and get right with Him. Notice how men’s hearts respond to these judgments in verses 9, 11, and 21. The very things that God is allowing are intended to produce heart change, but instead simply serve to reveal hearts. 

5. Observe that the demons of the sixth plague seek to unite men…against God.  

6. Look at verse 15. Where does the blessing come from? 


Old Testament:
Ezekiel 43- Dedication Day

Ezekiel 44- Service

Praise Him

Revelation 15:3-4
“Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy.
For all nations shall come and worship before You,
For Your judgments have been manifested.”

IMG_4241.jpg

While the tribulation continues on earth, John’s attention is drawn once again to the scene in heaven. The contrast alone should be enough to persuade us to surrender to Christ. Earth is experiencing the wrath of God, while heaven is being filled with sweet and continuous praise. Those who have been rescued from the tyrannical reign of the Antichrist stand before the throne and worship.

One of the evidences that a person has met Christ and been set free from sin is a desire for worship. While it is not required to fall on our knees, lift our hands, or even sing loudly, it is hard to imagine a person who has been impacted by the love and mercy of God who will not offer the loudest praise. Just the other night in our worship service, I noticed one young lady who humbly turned, faced her chair and knelt in worship. She has been growing so much in her relationship with Jesus of late that she could not resist the desire to bow in worship. I think we can learn a lot from the praise song of the redeemed found here in a Revelation 15.

““Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty!”

Their praise stemmed from focusing upon the works of God. As they stood before the Lord, they recalled the way in which they had been redeemed. Since these are tribulation saints, we know they had neglected the things of God for most of their lives and ignored the gospel. Still, the persistent love of God hunted them down and won them over. They, like we, could look back to the cross, where the love of God was poured out to redeem them from sin and give eternal life. Reflecting upon the work God has done is vital to a life of praise.

“Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy.”

As important as it is to look back upon the works of God, it is also vital that we look up to the person of God. He is worthy of the highest praise for what He has done, and also for who He is. Their praise stems from remembering three things about the nature of God. First, He is just; second, He is the king; and third, He is holy. All of the judgments of God are just. We often accuse Him of being unfair, however when His judgment is finally meted out upon a Christ-rejecting world, we will see how mercy and truth have met one another, and how righteousness and peace have kissed.

“For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.”

Finally, their worship includes an understanding of the promises of God. The judgments that the Word of God has warned about are finally coming to pass. Peter speaks of those who mock God because He waits so long  to execute judgment; failing to recognize it is His mercy which holds back His judgment. One of the best ways to increase a heart of praise is to focus upon the promises of God. Too often, in dire circumstances, we look only to our surroundings, instead of looking into the promises of God. The saint who trusts the promise over the circumstances he faces, or the emotions they stir up, is the saint whose life will be filled with the loudest praise.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Revelation 15

Chapter 6 began the Great Tribulation. After several chapters of seeing these judgments poured out on the Christ-rejecting world, we have a pause to show us some of the key players of this time and to remind us of the big picture. In chapter 15 we resume those judgments and see that this time of Tribulation is wrapping up soon. 


1. In verse 1 we read that John sees another sign, “great and marvelous”. As if some of the things that we have already seen weren’t amazing enough! What is the sign that he sees and what about it is marvelous? 

2. In verse 2 we see a sea of glass and a group of people standing upon it. There is a similar picture around the throne of God in Revelation 4:6. The idea is that there are no waves; the sea is at rest. God is not fretting or worried, but rather is at rest on His throne. Yet this sea is mingled with fire, suggestive of both trial and refining. Who is standing on the sea? What are they doing? Why do they have such great peace? 

3. In verses 3-4 we read that they sing two songs. The first is the song of Moses found in Exodus 15:1-19. Read this now. What is this song all about, and what does it celebrate about the Lord? 

4. The second is the song of the Lamb recorded in these verses. What does this song celebrate about Jesus? 

5. What part of God’s character is unique to Him alone according to verse 4? Now read Leviticus 19:2. God alone is holy, yet we are called to be holy as He is. How can we do this? Look up Eze 36:27 for the answer! 

6. As the seven angels come out of the temple they are given seven bowls. According to verses 6-8 what do these bowls contain? 

7. Look at verse 8. God’s glory and power fill the temple. This reminds us of 2 Chronicles 7:1-4 when the glory comes down on Solomon’s temple. What does this awareness of the glory of God produce in the people in this passage? Pray that God would reveal His glory to you in new ways both today and throughout your life. 


Old Testament:
Ezekiel 41- The Meeting Place
Ezekiel 42- Getting Dressed

A Safe Place

Revelation 14:1
“Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty- four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.”

The tribulation years will be the most difficult time period the earth has ever known. Any hardship we have ever experienced, will pale by comparison, to say the least of the trials during those few years. It is prudent that we each do everything we can to avoid being left here when these events begin to transpire. The way out is to trust in, and surrender to, Christ as Lord and Savior. If you have not yet made the decision to receive Christ, stop reading and pray. Invite Him to forgive your sins and be your Lord.

That being said, Chapter 14 gives a glimpse into the life of 144,000 believers, living and serving God through these dark times. It is particularly striking to me, that these individuals have the seal of God on their lives which, among other things, is certainly a seal of protection. With all the opposition to Christ and His followers, these believers remain untouchable as long as they “follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” (Rrevelation 14:4) Their lives serve as a great example that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.

I am reminded of David as he walked into the valley to face Goliath. Unarmed and untrained for battle, there was no safer place for Him to be than face to face with the giant. I think also of Gideon, with only 300 men at his side, and facing an army too large to number, he was both protected and victorious in battle. Conversely, I also think of Jonah. He was a man who knew the danger an Israelite would be in if he walked into the city of Nineveh. Unwilling to yield to the way of the Lord, he found himself in even graver danger.

While we are not to live foolishly, seeking adventure for adventure sake, we must not let the fear of the unknown or the threat of the “what if” keep us out of the center of God’s will for our lives. Just as these men were marked by God, and protected until it was time to call them home, so is the child of God who is walking in the will of God. We need never fear as long as we are following the Lamb wherever He goes.

Pastor Jim

Question for Revelation 14

The Great Tribulation which began in chapter 6 continues through to the end of chapter 18. In these chapters we see great judgments (seals, trumpets, and bowls which result ultimately in the fall of the world system that is opposed to God). However, in chapters 12-14 we see almost a parentheses where God identifies some of the key players of the Tribulation. We saw Satan, Israel, her Messiah and their relationship to one another in chapter 12. In chapter 13 we were introduced to the Antichrist and the False Prophet and their relationship with the World and Satan. In this chapter we are told about another group of people and a handful of angels and their place in the world at this time. 

1. Read verses 1-5. Make a list of all of the things that these verses tell us about this group of 144,000. Notice in verse 1 that this group is in Mount Zion (suggestive of Jerusalem). Read chapter 7:3-8. It is very likely that this is the same group. What is the nationality of these people? Remember that one of the purposes of the Tribulation is for God to resume His focus upon Israel as His covenant people. 

2. The name of the Father is on the foreheads of these; highly unlikely that this is a tattoo! Rather, this symbolizes that their thoughts are fixed upon God. Read Colossians 3:1-2. Does this describe your relationship with God? What gets in the way of you dwelling upon the goodness of God and your relationship with Him? 

3. Notice that their purity and commitment gave them unique privilege: they learned songs that no one else knew, and they were allowed to follow Him wherever He went. Read Hebrews 11:6. Do you make personal purity and the pursuit of God your highest priorities? When we do not we miss out on great blessing that God intends for us. 

4. Notice that this group is faultless before God. Read Ephesians 5:25-27, and note how Jesus treats His bride, the church. 

5. The first angel flies across the heavens declaring the message of the gospel. Look up Matt 24:14. The gospel must be preached to every nation before the final judgment of this world comes. Up until this point, it has not been. But according to this verse, does God need man to do this? 

6. In verse 8, the second angel warns of the coming destruction of Babylon, symbolic of the world system opposed to God and His rightful rule. Keep your eyes open as this comes to pass in chapters 17-18. 

7. Read verses 9-11. Although the mark of the beast may be physical, more important is what it represents: a life that in thought and deed is aligned with Satan in opposition to God. What are the ultimate terrible consequences of this heart attitude? 

8. In verse 12-13 what do we learn about the blessing of those who die in the Lord? Read Phil 1:21-23 and 1Corinthians15:51-55. How did Paul feel about death? 

9. In verses 14-17 we read of great angelic beings preparing for a Harvest. Read Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 for commentary on this. Also read Matthew 9:36-38 for God’s heart for the Harvest and what we should do. 

10. The last picture of the chapter is that of grapes and a winepress that pours out God’s wrath. The results of this are terrifying, disturbing and for some a little confusing. How could a God of love do this? Read John 3:36 to see the one way that God allows wrath to fall upon people. 



Old Testament:

Ezekiel 39- It’s A Promise

Ezekiel 40- New Temple

The Mark

Revelation 13:1
“Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.”

Keep in mind as you read through Revelation, John is seeing the events on earth from a heavenly vantage point. Instead of the glamour of wealth and power, John sees what God sees, a hideous beast filled with blaspheme, violence and hatred. It seems as though the entire world is enamored with this ruler. Like Haman of old, in the book of Esther, the world has found a common scapegoat in the believers, and their hatred streams forth in persecution. As a means of both coercion and identification, the beast requires a mark to be given to every person. Without this mark, survival will be difficult, and persecution guaranteed. This mark is later identified as being a series of numbers.

Revelation 13:18 “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”

In light of Biblical prophecy, we are living in very interesting times. This is particularly true as it relates to this identification mark that will be used for commerce. Up until recent times, all trade was done either through bartering goods for services, the use of coinage or currency backed by the nation, or in certain cases, a credit system based upon personal recognition and collateral. We have, in recent times, moved into an entirely new way of commerce; it is a credit system based on a series of numbers that identify the individual. I have found, over the years, as I travel, I have become more and more comfortable with this system, I rarely ever have cash. I have even traveled outside of the country without cash, relying entirely on the credit system.

That being said, I want to be clear, the current numbering system we use, is in no way the mark of the beast. I would even go so far as to say, an imbedded chip, under current conditions, would not be the fulfillment of this prophetic picture. This is pointing to a time during the tribulation, when the Antichrist has come to power and demands, in addition to whatever else is worshipped, he be worshipped as god. Those who will bow to him (like the Romans of ancient times bowed to worship Caesar) will be given a mark that allows them to buy and sell. Any who refuse will be persecuted and martyred.

After the last hundred years of human history, with all its violence, persecution, inhumanity and leader-worship, it is not hard to imagine a time when a ruler will come to power with such charisma he will be able to woo the hearts of mankind to bow before him as more than a man, but a human savior. While these things are fascinating to examine, they are really written as a means of warning, so we might escape these events. The secret to avoiding such a hellish calamity is to put trust in Christ, and be delivered from the tribulation that will be poured out upon the earth.

If you have not yet trusted Christ for salvation, do so now. Pray in faith,”Lord Jesus I ask you to forgive my sin, enter into my life and help me to follow after you.” If we can be of any help contact us at church@ccvb.net

Pastor Jim

Questions for Revelation 13

Revelation is a book rich in symbolism. For the most part, interpreting these symbols is made clear for us by clues either within Revelation or elsewhere in the Bible. Still, there are parts that are difficult to understand. Peter even said that there were parts of the Bible that were hard to understand (2Peter 3:16). This is okay. There is plenty that we can draw from the text even if we are not certain of the meaning of every detail. This is one of those chapters! 

1. In verses 1-2 we read of a Beast. This beast is similar to the dragon of chapter 12, but not the same. How is he different from the Dragon? How is he the same? Note that the dragon gives him his power. 

2. In verse 1 what do we learn about the beast’s name? In verse 2, what animals is the beast likened to? What do these things tell us about the character of the beast? 

3. In verse 3-4 we read that the beast is wounded in a way that appears deadly, overcomes it, and the world marvels. Similarly, Jesus was wounded unto death at the cross and rose again. Read Matthew 24:22-27. This is an indicator that the beast is what the Bible refers to as the Antichrist (1John 2:18, 2Thessalonians 2:13)), a false prophet who stands in Jesus place. 

4. In verses 5-9 we read of his influence over men. The antichrist is not someone who is simply opposite of Jesus, but one who people accept instead of Jesus. Note in particular his smooth speech in verse 5 (although it is clearly against God). What is the extent of his influence over men (verses 7-8)? 

5. When does verse 8 tell us that Jesus was slain? This is a mystery to us, but speaks to us of God’s plan for salvation and His knowledge of all things from the beginning. 

6. In verses 11-14 we are introduced to another beast. He is not the same as the first, nor is he the dragon, but he is like the dragon. Just as there is a holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, there is an unholy Trinity of Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet. Notice that the work of the false prophet is to draw attention and worship to the antichrist. What is the work of the Spirit according to John 15:26? 

7. Look at verse 15. What does the false prophet cause to happen to those who will not worship the beast? 

8. Much has been made in popular culture of the mark of the beast in verses 16-17. This may be an actual mark, or a symbolic one. But either way our head represents our inner thoughts, and our hand represents our outer actions. These are to be given to God, not anyone else. Read Colossians 3:17. Do you seek to do this? 


Old Testament:
Ezekiel 37- Dem Bones
Ezekiel 38- Under Attack

Symbols

Revelation 12

The book of Revelation is filled with symbolism. Some of the symbols are easy to understand because they are explained in the text, itself. For instance, in Chapter 1 we see Jesus in the midst of the lamp stands, then we are told the lamp stands represent the churches. Here in Chapter 12, the imagery is a bit harder to deduce. We are told of a woman clothed with the sun, who gives birth to a male child. Next, a red dragon, with seven heads, who draws a third of the stars from heaven, and awaits the birth of the child, that he might devour him. If we take a few minutes to unwrap the text, we will find that most of the imagery is, in fact, explained for us. Verse nine reveals the dragon is Satan, which makes the stars he drags, a reference to his angels. Verse five disclosess the male Child would rule the nations, making this a clear reference to Jesus. We are told He ascended to the throne of heaven. In verse 17, Satan makes war with the remnant of her seed. It would seem then, this reference represents Israel and the further offspring of the woman, and the Gentiles, who come to faith during the tribulation.

Instead of becoming overly distracted by the symbolism, I think it is critical to catch what is happening here. Satan is seeking to oppose the work of Christ, and in response, the angelic forces are sent forth to withstand him. Here we read, Satan is cast out of heaven, and will soon be caged in the bottomless pit. Realizing his time is short, he begins an all out attack upon the inhabitants of the earth. In the midst of this battle, we are given one of the great lessons in how to overcome temptations and live godly in Christ Jesus.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Revelation 12:11

The blood of Christ was shed to provide forgiveness for all our sins. No charge brought against the Christian will stand in the court of heaven. Satan’s charges have already been answered at the cross. Instead of living in guilt and fear, we can live in confidence, knowing Christ has covered our sin.

The “word of their testimony” refers to the things that Christ has accomplished in their lives. One of the greatest weapons in our arsenal, is to look back at what Christ has already accomplished for us. Remembering yesterday’s victory can create confidence for tomorrow.

“They did not love their lives to the death.” The one who has surrendered all to Christ is indestructible, until Christ calls him home. Fear often keeps us from accomplishing what Christ has called us to. The cure for fear is trust. I was sitting with a friend recently in a quite volatile situation, when he remarked, “If you have to fear something, you might as well fear God.”

We have a great promise that one day the enemy of our souls will be bound up and cast into a pit. Until that time, we must fight. Trusting in the blood of Christ, the testimony of His Word, and the commitment we made to follow Him.

Pastor Jim

Chapter 12

In chapter 11, the seventh and final trumpet sounds, likely indicating that the time of the Great Tribulation is drawing to a close (though there are still seven bowls of judgment ahead). One of the great works occurring during the Tribulation is that of God resuming His focus upon the nation of Israel. 

1. Although Revelation is a book that does use symbolism, it will usually tell us when doing so, and it would be wrong to impose symbolism upon it in places where it is not clearly indicated. However, in this chapter we have three symbolic characters: the Woman, the Child, and the Dragon.  
a. What clues do we have to the woman’s identity in verses 1-5? Also, look up Gen 37:9-11. This is the only reference to the sun, moon, and twelve stars in all the rest of the Bible. This is an unmistakable clue that the identity of the Woman is the family of Jacob and Joseph, Israel. 
b. The woman bears a child. Look at the description of the child in verse 5 (look up 2Samuel 7:16). This is clearly Jesus. 
c. Finally, the Dragon. Many details are given of him in verses 3-4 and 7-9. Ultimately his identity is revealed in verse 9. Satan. 


2. Note the disposition of Satan toward the child in verse 4. Throughout history we see those who, because of the work of Satan, are bent on the destruction of the Jewish people and thereby the Child. Do you know people in your life who are bent on the destruction of the things of God? Read 2 Timothy 2:20-26 for how to be effective in reaching this lost world. 

3. In verse 5, we see that Jesus is to rule all nations, and that He is to sit upon the throne of God. Does Jesus rule your heart? Is He ruler of your house and family? Your neighborhood and community? Your nation? He is the great and rightful King of all of these. Make it your daily purpose to enthrone Him in your heart and to see Him enthroned in the heart of others. 

4. In verse 7 we see Satan fighting against God’s army. Look at verse 8. What is the result of all his fighting? Does it profit to fight with God? 

5. As Satan is cast out of heaven in verse 10, he is referred to as the “accuser” or the one who judges and brings charges against God’s people. In contrast to the condemning work of the devil, read Romans 8:31-39 to see the work of Jesus. 

6. Verse 11 tells us three things that we do to overcome the accuser. What are they? 

7. Look at verse 12. What does Satan being cast out of heaven mean for the inhabitants of the earth? How much time does he have left? 

8. In verses 13-17, we see that Satan directs his efforts toward the destruction of Israel, God’s people. Is He successful? Can the enemy ever succeed at undoing the God’s faithfulness to His people? 


Old Testament:
Ezekiel 35- Judge And Jury
Ezekiel 36- What’s In It For Me?