Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Revelation 22:6-13 Jesus is Coming Soon!

KEY TEXT: Revelation 22:6-13 And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place." "And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God." And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy." "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

KEY THOT: Every generation of believers since the apostle John released his prophecy in the first century has heard the words of Jesus, "Behold, I am coming soon" (vv. 7, 12). Every generation of believers has hoped that Jesus would return in their generation. But unlike previous generations, this generation is unique in its expectation because many things are now in place to make the prophecies in the book of Revelation possible to come to fulfillment. Not the least of which is the formation of Israel and the international tension over Jerusalem. Russian President Putin warned the West last week that any attack on any of its allies (whether nuclear or conventional) will trigger a nuclear response from Russia. And Putin has boasted at the beginning of this month in his annual state-of-the-nation address that Russia has tested successfully three new strategic nuclear weapons - a nuclear-powered cruise missile, a hypersonic nuclear weapon in outer space that he claims can evade all US and NATO defensive missiles, making them irrelevant, and an underwater nuclear drone that can travel underwater undetected until it reaches its target. 

Among Russia's allies are such nations as Syria, Iran, Turkey and even North Korea. And Syria, Iran and Turkey are arch-enemies of Israel.  And just last week, Israel concluded a series of massive exercises with participation by US military personnel that mimicked all-out war on multiple fronts since its air-force has shot down an Iranian drone that has penetrated into Israeli airspace. Israel is expecting and preparing for an all-out war against her by these nations aided by an increasing aggressive Russia. With Putin's re-election yesterday as President of the Russian Federation, the stage is set for the most dangerous phase of the international conflicts over Jerusalem. Jesus' words in Revelation 22:12-13 now take on a new urgency and relevance: "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

Iran has already stationed its military personnel in Syria as witnessed by the drone encroachment into Israel's airspace. If Iran provokes Israel again with more dangerous incursions, Israel would retaliate and US may be drawn into the conflict, triggering a Russian nuclear response. Zechariah's prophecy about Jerusalem may happen sooner than we think:
  • Zechariah 12:1-5 The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel: Thus declares the Lord, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him: "Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it. On that day, declares the Lord, I will strike every horse with panic, and its rider with madness. But for the sake of the house of Judah I will keep my eyes open, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. Then the clans of Judah shall say to themselves, 'The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through the Lord of hosts, their God.'
As in past 20 centuries since John's prophecy was released, we pray the prayer of the church again, "Even so, come Lord Jesus!"

Abba-Father, thank You for Your word of revelation to prepare Your people for what is coming soon. May Your church be ready as a Bride for the Bridegroom. Amen.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Revelation 22:1-5 Living Forever

KEY TEXT: Revelation 22:1-5 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. 

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KEY THOT: Inside the City of God is the river of the water of life, flowing from the throne of God in the midst of the City. Whoever drinks of this water will be refreshed from God's life. Jesus alluded to this eternal river when he told the Samaritan woman at the well, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." And when this sinful Old World Order is replaced by God's New World Order, we will be enjoying God's presence in His city and will live and reign with Him forever. What a glorious prospect! If we invest our lives only in this Old World Order, we will regret when we are shut out of this City of God.

On either side of this river are trees that yield twelve kind of fruits every month. And the leaves of these trees are for the healing of the nations. There will be no night because the Lord God will be our light. We will see God's face and his name will be etched into our foreheads. So will this be our ultimate destiny. With our new spiritual and immortal bodies, we will explore the new heavens and new earth. There will be plenty to do, to see and to create. Lives will not be boring but exciting. We won't be sitting on the clouds with harps everyday, doing nothing but only singing. There is a new world to explore. And with our new bodies, travel will be easy and instantaneous--just as Jesus did with his resurrected body.

I was talking to a young pre-believing teenage girl about eternal life the other day. She asked me: "Why would anyone want to live forever?" My answer is: "If there is no God in your life, there is no reason why you want to live forever. But if God is in you, life is exciting and there is so much to live for. And there is so much we want to do! Living forever means loving and serving God forever!" But if we don't start enjoying God now, we will probably share the same pessimism as the young girl: Why does anyone want to live forever?

Richard Baxter wrote this famous line in his hymn (Lord It Belongs Not to My Care): "For if Thy work on earth be sweet, what will Thy glory be!" If you find life on earth boring now, perhaps, you are not living for God but for yourself. Or worse, maybe you don't even know the Lord Jesus Christ. But if God is in us, life on earth is sweet. And God promises us even more in the new heaven and new earth.
  • Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'  And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'
If serving God is a burden to us now, why would we want to live forever? In fact, the prospect of living forever in the City of God heaven may be a daunting prospect, not a joyous one. But if you have tasted a little of God's goodness here, you will look forward to the full glory--to live in God's presence and serve Him forever and ever in the City of Light!

Abba Father, what  a glorious future awaits those who love and trust in You! The new House You have prepared for Your children is indeed worth all our sacrifices here on earth. Even our sacrifices are not burdensome but sweet. Amen.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Revelation 21:9-27 In My Father's House

KEY TEXT: Revelation 21:9-27 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed—on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare; its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel's measurement. The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life. 

KEY THOT: Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?" (John 14:2). Many of us might have wondered what kind of house we will be dwelling in that has enough rooms for all redeemed humanity since the dawn of time. In today's passage, we have a description of it. It's apparently a cube-like city, each side measuring 12,000 stadia, which is roughly 1,400 miles or 2,240 km in length. This is the roughly the distance from Singapore to Hanoi. The present Israel is only 424 km from north to south. So, the New Jerusalem will sit on an area five times the length of Israel on the way northwards to Turkey and eastwards to Iran. And it also rises 2,240 km upwards as a cubic city. 

The heavenly Jerusalem is called the Bride of the Lamb (v.9). The description depicts this city as a glorious structure with walls and gates built from precious stones with streets paved with gold. And there will be an everlasting light inside the city because of God's presence there. There will be no need for the sun or moon, because God's glory will light up the new earth. But only those whose names are written on the Lamb's Book of life will be able to enter there.

How many can a cubic city 2,250 km on every side house? If one takes into account its height, it can take in all humanity that ever existed from the beginning of time. If each person occupies the size of a 4-room HDB flat by himself or herself, the number of occupants that can fit into this city will be 2 x 10^15, which is 2 million billions people. Consider that the most liberal estimate of the world's population since the beginning of time is less than 100 billion (current population is 7 billion). Even if all humanity is saved, it occupies only less 1% of the city. God's house really has "many rooms" as Jesus has promised--much much more than all humans that have ever existed.

In fact, there will be many empty rooms. Jesus wants them all filled. 

Abba-Father, You are not only a gracious God but also a generous one. You have prepared more rooms than there are people on earth. We ask that You will cause many more people to come to faith in You, so that they may occupy those empty rooms. Amen.