Revelation and Double Fulfillment

Revelation 17

Revelation 17 14 .png
Today is a bit longer. Please bear with me to the end.
Before we start this devotion, please go read Isaiah 7:14. 
Is that verse about Jesus? 
According to Matthew 1:23, the answer is a clear and resounding yes. Now, go back and read Isaiah 7:14, 16-17, 8:3-4, 10. It would seem that Immanuel is also a reference to Isaiah’s son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, who is the child of a/the young woman, and his title (Immanuel) shows the people that God is with them (Immanuell literally means “with us is God”). 
I know that may be some new information for you, but this is what I want you to see : When Isaiah gave the Immanuel prophecy, he wasn’t JUST talking about something that would happen hundreds (700+) of years in the future. He was talking about something that was going to happen SOON, that would impact King Ahaz’s life in just a few years time. Did he speak about the future as well? Matthew says yes, but that’s not all he speaks about.
This bit of insight is helpful to have in mind as we read Revelation 17 (or if you have already read it, as you go now and re-read it). Many who read the text of Revelation focus on the future aspects of the book. When will it happen? (Some people say : “Always just around the corner!”) Who are Gog and Magog? (“Always enemies of our country, like Germany, China or Russia!”) Am I prepared? (“Buy your food kit now!”) But, just as the prophecies of Isaiah meant something for the people of his day, we MUST recognize that the prophecy and revelation of John meant something to readers of John’s day.
And John’s readers knew what he meant. There are things that are hard to understand about the scene he saw, but he made it clear enough that they would have understood at least SOME of it. The picture is of a prostitute/harlot/whore sitting upon a beast. She commits sexual immorality with kings, she rides upon a beast, gets drunk on the blood of the saints. She has many names.
Woman who rides upon the beast, through hints we see in this text, is Rome (and by extension, the Roman Empire). Rome is a city sat upon seven hills (v.9). Rome is the great city that has an empire over the kings of the earth (v.18). Rome, like Babylon the Great before her, destroyed the Jewish Temple, and therefore Rome was acting in the “spirit of Babylon”. (v.5) The sexual immorality committed by the kings of the Earth is their worship of the Emperor as “the son of the gods” and “god-in-flesh”, which was discussed in an earlier devotion on Revelation, when the author spoke about the imperial cult. (v.2) Most importantly for the first readers, this woman was drinking the blood of the saints; that is a poetic description of what they were experiencing under the persecution of Rome.(v.6) 
When John uses all these images, we are given a powerful picture of the spirit of any empire that moves against Christ. And that is true in every age and in every place where there are empires drinking deeply the blood of saints and worshipping that which is not God. What we must always realize is that both in the day of John and our own, the truth is that Christ will conquer them all. Verse 14 says “These will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” 
Could there be another city that will sit upon 7 hills, with kings, and be Babylon the great? Maybe. All of Revelation 17 could happen again in the future, with other systems, empires, and rulers. But verse 14 will be always and forever clear : whoever makes war against the Lamb will be defeated. The Lamb will conquer them by his power.
 

Brothers and sisters, we stand with him. We are called. We are chosen. No matter the persecution of the Dragon, the Beast or the Harlot, let us remain faithful. (v 14)

 

Jake Ballard
(Jake Ballard is Pastor at Timberland Bible Church in South Bend, IN. He lives in the Michiana Area with his wife and daughter. If you’d like to say hi you can find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jacob.ballard.336  You can also hear more teachings at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs_awyI1LyPZ4QEZVN7HqKQ Otherwise, he is available on all hailing frequencies, by using the Palantir, and via carrier pigeon, though it’s getting colder in South Bend. God bless you all!)

God Hears

Revelation 8

Revelation 8 4 NIV (1)

 

The book of Revelation is a dramatic masterpiece that I would love to see in a comic book one day. The author, John, uses tremendous action, suspense, plot twists, and so much more! When we finally come to chapter eight, there is a great tension that is set up by the author. We have seen that the Lamb at God’s right side has finally broken all seven of the seals that bind this important Scroll from chapter five, and we are anxiously awaiting to see what it contains.

 

Unfortunately for the reader, we will have to wait a little while longer before we learn what this Scroll says, as John builds our anticipation even more with the introduction of the seven trumpets that bring about God’s judgment. John is looking to whet our appetite even more for the contents of the Scroll, as we see what God is going to do to those who have persecuted and killed His people.

 

Back in chapter six, when the fifth seal of the Scroll was broken (6:9-11), we were introduced to these Christian martyrs who had been killed for their faithful preaching of the gospel. They cried out to God, begging Him to vindicate them and enact judgment on those who had killed them. It is these prayers for vindication that God is responding to with the seven trumpets that are introduced in this chapter. In 8:3-5, an angel is going to take these prayers that are rising up to God and throw them down on those who were responsible for these Christian martyrs’ deaths. What happens after, through these trumpets, are poetic images of God’s judgment raining down on those who have tormented and persecuted God’s people, similar to what happened in the Exodus story with Pharaoh.

 

While this letter wasn’t written directly to us in 21st century America, we can learn much from John’s address to the seven churches in Asia Minor. The key point that I have learned from this chapter is that no prayer goes unheard by God. He is going to respond to His people’s cries to Him, even if it may take some time. God is not unjust and will vindicate His people when they are being persecuted for being faithful to Him. So be encouraged today! God hears your prayers! He will vindicate you from the persecution that you face for being faithful.

 

Talon Paul

Servants with a Mission

1 Corinthians 4

1 corinthians 4 1 revised.png

Let’s take a quick dive into 1 Corinthians 4.

Right off the bat we see several really good nuggets of truth in chapter 4.  “This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.  Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” 4:1-2.  Those of us who have accepted Christ into our lives have been entrusted with a knowledge of the transforming power of Christ, and we must be faithful.  Just like the servant in the parable of the talents who was required to earn a profit on the money entrusted to him by his master we need to be growing the kingdom.  Also those who are believers should not view themselves as being holier and better than other people, but as servants to all with a mission.

 

For those that have not yet accepted Christ into their life there is also a message here in verse 4, which says “ My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”  A lot of people can get in trouble because they only listen to their own internal moral compass.  The problem is that compass can be bent to your own desires, and when a compass is wrong you will never find your way.  This is why we need to check our actions against God’s teachings because in the end we will not be judging ourselves, but God will judge us.  Most people do not think that they are sinning in their life, but it is once we encounter Jesus that we realize the weight of our sin and the fact that we need his blood to cover all of our sins.

 

Thanks for stopping by,

Chris Mattison

Acts – His Witnesses at Work

Acts 1 8 b.png

The book of Acts is one of the most exciting reads you will ever come across: action adventure, good guys, bad guys, left for dead, miracles, jail breaks, courtroom drama, angry mob, shipwreck, dramatic monologues, and some of the most fascinating characters of the early church.  The author, Luke, was the same Gentile doctor who wrote what is now the 3rd gospel – an account of Jesus’ life and ministry.  Here, in the book of Acts, his story continues with the Acts of the Apostles – the story of the early Christian church age.

 

Luke opens his account in Acts with the crucified and resurrected Jesus appearing to his disciples for 40 days, speaking about the kingdom of God (1:3) – obviously a topic near and dear to Jesus – so it should likewise be a topic we are passionate about.  Then, Jesus told his disciples, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (1:8). And as he ascends into the clouds, two men in white reassure the disciples that Jesus will return the same way that he rose.  And, throughout the rest of Acts, we see what happens when Jesus’ witnesses are faithful.

 

The promised Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and they were able to do many miracles and wonders, even speaking in languages that men from all parts of the world would understand the good news of Jesus and the Kingdom of God.  Most of the first half of Acts follows the disciples, particularly Peter, as they teach and preach and grow the early church.  Even amongst strong opposition the church grows, with many new believers being baptized and committing their lives, homes, finances, and families to following Jesus.  Some, like Stephen, even gave their life – as he was stoned to death for speaking the truth about Jesus, the Son of God.

 

Most of the second half of Acts tells the incredible – and true – stories of Paul.  It starts with the conversion of Saul who was persecuting Christians.  BUT – he changed and became the great apostle who went on 3 missionary journeys and wrote much of what would become the New Testament (but more on that tomorrow when we cover the 3rd Division of the NT – Paul’s Letters).

 

There are so many great passages in the book of Acts you just have to read it for yourself!  Not only are there amazing action stories, but you also get some wonderful sermon snippets and see what is most important to the early church.  You see their teachings, courage and priorities.

 

We are still waiting for that day when the clouds will part and our Lord and Savior will come down to greet his followers.  What a day that will be!  If you have read the gospels to see Jesus in action – then you are his witness.  If you have felt Jesus’ peace in the storm – then you are his witness.  May we be faithful witnesses ready for his return.

 

-Marcia Railton

Final Instructions

2nd Thessalonians 3

2 thess 3 13

This letter starts out asking for prayer that the word of the Lord spread rapidly and be honored. My favorite verse of this chapter is verse 3: “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” You may go through trials, but God is always with you. In the end He will prevail; we will be with him and other believers for eternity.

The 2nd part of this chapter tells us that we need to be busy…Not busybodies.  It tells us not to be idle and to stay away from those who are. We are to never tire of doing what is right. I know that is difficult at times.  Sometimes we don’t want to wait the 20 seconds to hold the door open; we are in a hurry to do something else or we just don’t want to help.  This set of verses tell us to live according to the teachings and continue our hard work.

It has been a pleasure writing the devotionals this week. Thank you Marcia for all the work you put into this every day! I would like to close the same way Paul does in verse 16 and 18: “16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”

-Jeani Ransom

Steadfast and Faithful

Acts 25

acts 25 7

The trial continues in Acts Chapter 25. Festus, a new governor, has come to power and Paul is under trial again. What a political sham! Everyone knows that Paul hasn’t really done anything to deserve punishment, but the influential Jews will not give up. Paul knows that if his fate is to be determined in Jerusalem he will not survive. He has to appeal to Caesar at this point.

Surprisingly, Festus has a real handle on the situation. He sees that Paul hasn’t done anything wrong. He just disagrees with the Jews on the resurrection and about Jesus. So he hands the case off to King Agrippa. It’s a total mess of a case. Some important people will be miffed if Paul gets let go. A leader’s popularity may be at stake here. Is Paul’s life really worth that? Finally, Paul must think the trial will end soon. There has to be a decision made at some point!

I picture a pitiful-looking fella appealing to the powers that be with kind words and loving eyes. He has just spent years in prison and the accusers really have no evidence against him. There is no case. Paul remains steadfast and faithful even though things don’t look so good for him. Could we do the same?

-Melissa New

Well Done

Matthew 25

well done

The Parable of the Bag of Gold:

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:23).

The Parable of the Bag of Gold, in Matthew 25, tells the story of a master who left on a journey and entrusted his wealth to three servants. The first servant received five bags of gold, the second servant received two bags of gold, and the third servant received one bag of gold. The first two men went off and put their money to work, making the most of it. The third servant, however, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

The master returned later on and was pleased to find out that the first servant had accumulated five times the amount of money that was entrusted to them! Additionally, the second servant accumulated two times the amount of money that was entrusted to them!

When the third servant revealed to their master that they had nothing but the original bag of gold, the master was outraged. He called the servant wicked and lazy for burying the gold in the ground, for they practically wasted it.

 

“For whoever has will be given more, and they will have abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” (Matthew 25:29).

 

This parable reflects the way that God has entrusted us with different gifts, talents, abilities, and responsibilities. As my friend Mackenzie once told me “if you prove you are faithful and diligent with what God has given you, He’s going to entrust you with more and more.” How are you using that which God has entrusted you?

 

-Kayla Tullis