Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Four applications (Rev. 14:6-20)

Take a look from above on what is happening below. This is the message of the three angelic announcements. We should ask, what is most important now and what will be most important on the Day of Judgement? Will it be the gospel or will it be the city of man with all its failures or will it be the opinions of the political and religious leaders? A look from above will reveal to us that the gospel is the only one of the three that is truly important.

There is only one safe city. People come into cities for security. They did that in the ancient world because they assumed that the city walls would keep them safe from attackers. Millions have placed their hopes in the abilities of Babylon and all of them will be disappointed. In contrast, those in the city of God will be safe and satisfied for ever.

Troubles are never a reason for quitting. The temptation to do so is always there. But we should endure. Endurance is basically taking one step after another. There is no other way but to persevere. A hundred years from now, we will be in the eternal world. Therefore, persevere in serving God and depending on Jesus.

Jesus will yet judge the world. We must remember this. He spoke about it often when he was here. His apostles and others preached about it in the Book of Acts. This is part of his exaltation, to be the Judge of all at the end of the day. How significant Jesus is!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

The great harvests (Rev. 14:14-20)

Who is described in verse 14? It is obvious that the description is connected to the vision of the Son of Man in Daniel 7. Given that the vision concerns the exaltation of Jesus, it means that we should regard the one like the son of man here as Jesus as he will look on the Day of Judgement. We can see from the description that he will be very glorious.

First, he is seated on a throne of glory (white cloud); second, he is wearing the crown of glory; and, third, he has the instrument of judgement in his hand (sickle). The description is of him waiting to act, waiting for the moment which the Father has put in his own authority, the day of the second coming of Jesus. Here is Jesus gathering his people to himself. It only takes him a moment to do so.

In verse 18, in a second description of the harvest, an angel comes from the altar and tells another angel to deal with those whom he will throw into the place of judgement. The altar here is probably the altar of incense, and here we have a reminder that in some ways the Day of Judgement is connected to the process by how God answers the prayers of his people for vindication.

Again, the description of the judgement indicates that it is very severe. Such an amount of blood is very difficult to imagine. The point that John is being shown is how awful the judgement will be. This image could be taken from Isaiah 63 where the Messiah is said to crush his enemies as if in a great winepress. Where is the winepress? It is outside the city of God. What a terrible location to be in, experiencing the judgement of God.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Christians here and there (Rev. 14:12-13)

How can we tell a true Christian? Or, to put it another way, what does it mean to endure? It means to live as a servant of God keeping his commandments because it is the path of blessing. And it means remaining loyal to Jesus in all the circumstances of life.

It is not clear whether verse 13 describes Christians in general or if it is a personal encouragement to those who would be put to death for their faith. Of course, the experience is true of all who reach heaven, however they reached it. The encouragement mentions four things about the heavenly experience.

First, they are conscious in heaven. They are not in a dreamy kind of experience, but are fully alert as far as their souls are concerned.

Second, they are united to Jesus, which is what ‘die in the Lord’ means. No doubt, this illustration depicts the security that dying believers have and points to the comfort that they should know when it comes to that time.

Third, they are resting, which is a reminder that heaven is the place of perfect peace.

Fourth, they will be rewarded: the activities they did for Jesus on earth will have consequences for them in heaven (the word translated labour means hard work). In heaven, we will see that everything we did for Jesus was very worthwhile. This description is of believers who are now in heaven and is not a description of their post-resurrection life.

We are not told who spoke the benediction, but we are told who makes a comment on it. The commentator is the Holy Spirit. In chapters 2 and 3, the Spirit speaks to the churches as they listen to the heavenly assessment of what they were truly like. Here, he wants believers to know the certainty of the place of bliss that they are travelling towards, even if their journey is full of pain. I suspect we should deduce from his words that he is the one who provides them with heavenly rest and rewards.