RSS

Mark 3 – Which Family Are You Glorifying?

The beginning of chapter 3 really belongs with the section before in chapter 2 where Jesus is presented as Lord of the Sabbath. What I love about this story in the beginning of chapter 3 is that he really doesn’t do any work. He simply tells the man to stick his arm out. He doesn’t really even work on the Sabbath but he follows up his claim in chapter 2, “the Sabbath was made for man, not mad for the Sabbath” with the question of which is lawful on the Sabbath, “to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” Jesus continues to poke holes in their understanding of the Sabbath.

Verses 7-8 makes very clear that Jesus’ fame as a miracle worker as well as a preacher was spreading throughout the region, to a wider extent than that of John’s fame, due to the miracles that he is working. This list of places where everyone is coming from, Jesus will go on to preach in those places (except for Idumea). The point of these geographical references demonstrates that people are coming from all directions: north, south, east, and west, to reach Jesus. At this point the people don’t seem to be “following Jesus” in regards to being his disciples but more so in regards to chasing after him because they have a magical view of him. They believe that if they only touch him they will be well. This leads Jesus to having his disciples prepare a boat so that he can escape the crowed pressing around him. Jesus will still take time to heal many of them but the emphasis seems to be on the word that he has to speak. Remember that preaching and teaching is his primary mission (see 1:38), rather than healing.

Impure spirits force the people they inhabit to fall before Jesus and proclaim that he is the Son of God. Jesus quickly silences them. Why? Some have suggested that the timing of this proclamation is wrong but that doesn’t seem to suffice. It would seem that an endorsement from impure spirits would not be good for one’s ministry. No matter what the reason is, Mark is showing a great irony here that those he came to combat are saying the right things while those he came to save will accuse him of being “possessed by Beelzebul.”

Jesus called the twelve to him to appoint him. Jesus went up on a mountainside to do this. The setting for this appointment is presumably meant to be reminiscent of the setting at which Israel was constituted a people (Ex. 18-19). This sentiment is paralleled where Jesus calls the disciples to him up on the mountain in Matthew 5 to give them the law (the Sermon on the Mount). He calls them so that they can go and do the things that he has been doing: preaching and driving our demons.

Jesus is accused of having a demon, being out of his mind, and his family comes to take charge of him. The actions of an individual in those times had great implications on family. They were afraid of the embarrassment Jesus might cause them because of the things the leader of the people were saying about him. They set out to protect their family honor not realizing they are rejecting God. Jesus offers that all who do God’s will are his brother, sister, and mother. This invitation is open to his family as well. Jesus makes very clear that he is only interested in bringing honor to God and not what his family thinks is honorable. This would have been a powerful reminder to the hearers of Mark’s Gospel who would have quite possibly been receiving the same kind of pressure from their own families who had not accepted Jesus.

We live with this kind of tension as well. We are called to glorify God by doing His will while our country, culture, friends, family, place of business, etc. wants us to glorify them. We continually need to make sure which family we are in and which family we are seeking to glorify.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 11, 2013 in Bible Blog, Mark

 

Tags: , ,

Mark 2 – Jesus Changes How We View the World

The Jews lived in a time of anticipation. Most of their practices and rituals were done in regards to anticipation. The order of the Jewish day was evening morning. Their day started when the sun went down and they went to sleep. They anticipated that God was going to do something. The Sabbath and fasting were times of anticipation as well. God was in control. God was going to do something. All of these things were to be a continual reminder of God’s work to be done in the world. There is a lot more to these practices but I’m oversimplifying for the point of these passages.

We live in a different time. A time that has been redefined by the resurrection. When does our day start (Think about before we had clocks)? It starts when the sun comes up. Christ has risen. A new day has dawned. The reason Christians began meeting on Sunday instead of Saturday is because Sunday is the first day of the week. The day Jesus was resurrected. The first day of the new creation. When Christ came, redemption came with him…the very thing the Jews were anticipating. He is the new wine to be poured into new wineskins. Let him make you new. He is the Lord of the Sabbath. The anticipation of God acting is fulfilled in Christ. We are no longer in a time of waiting because Christ has brought about redemption for a creation that is broken. We live in a time of doing because Christ has already begun God’s work of redemption and he has called us to join him.

Crowds flock to Jesus because of what he is doing to redeem this brokenness. They don’t just come alone but they bring their friend. I love that in the first story, it is because of the faith of the guys carrying the paralyzed man that Jesus forgave him of his sins. How awkward would it be then to have Jesus turn around to the crowd, look at the teachers of the law, and address the things in which they were thinking? In case there was any confusion as to who Jesus is…he asked which would be easier, “to forgive or to heal?” He then heals the guy as well. Jesus didn’t just come to bring redemption of the brokenness of the body but also redemption of the brokenness of souls.

Jesus gives us a different way of looking at the world. He turns the social order on its head. I don’t think I ever recognized that when Jesus called Levi he was in the middle of walking and teaching a large crowd. As a great object lesson as to what he is all about. He stops and calls the tax collector in front of everyone. He came for the sick…not those who think they are healthy. The sooner we realize our brokenness the sooner we will turn to the doctor.

Jesus came to turn the world on its end. To show God’s people what God intended His creation to look like in the first place. He reminds us that those who are despised by society can be taken in, redeemed, and transformed into His likeness in order to change the world. When I read passages like these I have to ask myself if I have too many Christian friends. Am I befriending the people Jesus hung out with in order to be a presence of peace in their lives?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Bible Blog, Mark

 

Tags: , , ,

Mark 1 – Mark Gives us the Good News

Welcome to the last book we are blogging on in this stent! It is has been a fun ride and Kent and I are in discussion as to what we are going to do next. We might be open to some suggestions if you have any. First, we blogged through the entire Bible in a year. That was a huge undertaking and while it was beneficial, Kent and I decided we wanted to focus more deeply on the New Testament. Over the last year (and some change) we have blogged through the New Testament a chapter at a time. We broke the Books up so that periodically we would come back to the Gospels from time to time. We decided that instead of ending with Revelation, we would end with the Gospel of Mark.

Before jumping into Mark’s Gospel, I’d like to provide some historical background that I hope you find enlightening. These are things we don’t normally talk about so I wanted to share. Mark was widely regarded by the early church as the authentic voice and interpreter of Peter. The earliest evidence that Mark wrote this Gospel was set forth by Papias (c. 60-130), the bishop of Hieropolis in Phrygia, in the vicinity of the New Testament Churches of Colossae and Laodicea. The earliest tradition surrounding Mark’s Gospel was that:

–       Mark interpreted Peter accurately

–       Peter was Mark’s chief access to the recollections of Jesus

–       Mark did not record the tradition “in order”

–       Peter presented the Lord’s teaching as the situation demanded, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord’s discourses

–       Nothing crucial was distorted or omitted

Decades after the death of Papias, Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215), who lived in an entirely different place, in Egypt, reconfirms the tradition that Mark was the reliable interpreter of the narrative of the Lord attested by Peter.

The implications of this history is that the leaders of Alexandria known to Clement assumed that Mark had been associated with Peter over a long period of time, that Peter was aware that Mark had written down Peter’s narrative for distribution, and that Peter had no objection to his doing so, although Peter did not directly promote it himself. Mark is portrayed as responding to the requests of many believers to write out Peter’s widely recognized and authoritative public teaching about Christ while Peter was at Rome.

I won’t continue to go into the detailed history of Mark but the tradition passed on through Irenaeus (c. 115-202), Origen (c. 185-254), Eusebius (c. 263-339), Athanasius (c. 296-373), and Augustine (354-430), who after three centuries of this longstanding tradition that the Holy Spirit had supervised the accurate transmission of the gospel tradition from the eyewitness apostles to the consenting church, wrote that Mark and Luke “credibly received accounts with which they had become acquainted in a trustworthy manner through the instrumentality of actual followers of the Lord as he manifested himself in the flesh, and lived in the company of those disciples who were attending him” (Augustine, Harmony of the Gospels 1.2).

The reason I feel the need to share all of this before even getting into Mark’s Gospel is because we live in a time where the validity of the Gospels come into question often. “There were many other gospels in the early church that did not make it into our Bibles because the church picked which ones best fit their agenda.” I’ve heard comments like this, and variations of it, a number of different times. The reason the Gospels we have made it into our Bible, which was compiled in 325, is because of these traditions and the writings that date back to the earliest centuries. There were other “gospels” at the time but most of them were debated against widely by the Church Fathers and do not carry with them the kind of tradition that the canonized Gospels carry.

So…what you are about to read (or have just read) are the stories from Peter’s mouth written, interpreted, and distributed by Mark.

Mark begins his Gospel with “the good news about Jesus the Messiah.” When we hear Gospel or “good news,” we often think of Jesus’ death and his resurrection. When Mark sets out to record the “good news” of Jesus, he sets out to give an account of the life Jesus lived as well as the death and resurrection. It is easy for us to fall into the trap of merely thinking of the “good news” as just being about our salvation. The reality is that Jesus lived a life and the life he lived is important for us to know about. It is important enough that the early church went to great lengths to pass on these stories so that we might have them today. As we read the “good news” in the Gospel of Mark, lets remember that we read of the life Jesus lived and has called us to emulate.

Mark doesn’t waste any time jumping into the story of Jesus. He isn’t doing this to say that Jesus’ baptism wasn’t important or that the temptation of Jesus wasn’t important. Jesus begins by saying, “The time has come…the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Believing the “good news” is to walk as Jesus walked and to live as Jesus lived. He then turns and says to Simon and Andrew, “Come, follow me,. And I will send you out to fish for people.” They immediately responded by following Jesus.

I love Jesus’ first miracle in Mark. He drives demons out of a man because the demon was announcing to everyone who he is. Jesus sternly tells them to be quiet but the news spread over the whole region of Galilee quickly. Jesus continued his healing ministry but would not let the demons speak because they knew his identity. Stop for a minute and think about that. Jesus did not allow demons to speak because they knew who he was and where his power came from. Jesus tried to keep his healing abilities quiet but when you’re healed, you can’t help but tell others about it. The result…so many people wanted Jesus that it became difficult to get around.

Jesus could have easily stayed in one place, set up shop, and spent all of his time healing people. I want to end today’s post with pointing out something in the life of Jesus we often overlook. Jesus went off to a solitude place to pray. When his disciples came to him to tell him that he is being sought after he said that they must go on because he needs to preach other places also. The example we see here is that Jesus was prayerfully in tune with what he was supposed to be doing and didn’t get wrapped up in the pressure of one good work. Jesus demonstrates that living a life of peace requires times of prayer in solitary places. Go and do likewise.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 8, 2013 in Bible Blog, Mark

 

Revelation 22 – The End (Evil Undone)

Does Revelation 21-22 fit what happened in Rome two thousand years ago?  Or does the book now speak of the final judgment to come?  I think that the answer is both.  It’s hard to say that it has no relevance to the Roman situation since we are told yet again in 22:7 that this return will come very soon.  Remember how in Revelation 20, we talked about the idea that Satan will have times in the future that he will regroup and return to try to destroy the people of God.  In a similar way, there will be time after time that God will rescue his people and let them join his victory.  In that way, the book of Revelation is a pattern that is repeated throughout history.  It makes sense that in the final Judgment Day that it will be a more complete version of what God has been doing all along.

Revelation 22 has many beautiful images of how the remaining damage that has been done by evil will now be completely undone.  The image of crystal clear water pouring forth for the people of God is an image of life.  Some think this indicates the Holy Spirit while others are reminded of Eden’s rivers or Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman that he would give her living water.  What’s clear is that this water is a source of life and blessing.  Those who drink it will never thirst again.  The tree of life reminds us of Eden, where God’s garden provided everything humans could want, before death or sin ever entered the creation.  And not just any fruit, but 12 kinds of fruit for each month (12 times a year).  Again, the number 12 reminds us of God’s people and we are supposed to realize that God is feeding his people and providing for them abundantly.

The curse will be lifted.  The curse immediately leaves me thinking of men working the land for food and women having pain in childbirth, but Revelation 22 doesn’t connect the lifting of the curse to either of those aspects.  Immediately after the curse is lifted we are told of an intimate relationship between God and his people where they can see his face and his name is upon their foreheads.  This is the fulfillment of communion and the relationship that is desired.

The book ends with several promises that all of this is true and will soon come to pass.  The letter, as soon as John finished it, was not to be kept secret, but sent throughout the churches warning them.  While some have said that Revelation uses images to keep Romans from understanding it, these final verses seem to contradict that.  There is an invitation that those who are outside the gates might listen and “come.”

At the end of the day, every single one of us has a choice.  This is good news and bad news in this.  The bad news is that God will honor our choice and give us what we ask for.  The good news is that God will honor our choice and give us what we ask for.

My prayer is that God will give me rivers of crystal clear, life giving water.  And my prayer is that you will ask for the water too.  Because that water washes all the pain of the dragon and the beasts away.  It heals.  It gives life.  It fills you with the love of the one who created love.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 4, 2013 in Revelation

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Revelation 21 – “Heaven is Great but its Not the End of the World”

We’ve read of the destruction of Rome, the destruction of earthly kingdoms, earthly rulers, and of all that is evil. What is next? What is there to look forward to? We try to find comfort where we live and in our leaders but we are assured that these things are temporary…no matter how great they might seem. To put hope in the governments and ideals that surround us where we are is to put hope in something that is temporary no matter how great it may seem. These chapters are sobering reminders that we are not at home here. We turn the page from the destruction of all things and open a new chapter that reveals life, true life. Life that is worth hoping in. Life that is worth living out the reality of now as we anxiously await its coming. We turn to Revelation 21 to see what this looks like.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…and there was no longer any sea.” I’m a mountain man myself but the sea is a close second in things I love about the beautiful world we live in. It may sadden us to read that there will no longer be a sea. I got to sail this past summer for the first time. The 25’ catamaran I was on was fast as it cut through the Caribbean. I felt alive. Why would there be no more sea? The sea, for the ancient world, is where evil spawns. We see the beast come from the sea. While it is something to enjoy while sitting on a beach or sailing, it is a terrifying thing to be sailing in a storm or to have a tsunami kick up a horrifying wave. The sea is relentless. The fact that there is no more sea means that evil has been conquered.

The Holy City, New Jerusalem, prepared as a beautiful bride now comes down to earth, God’s creation. God’s dwelling place has been restored to the earth He created as He intended it to be in the beginning. When God created the earth, He intended to dwell with His creation. When sin came into the world, God and creation became separated. Throughout scripture we see God pursuing His creation and dwelling amongst His people in limited ways, awaiting the day when He and His creation would be joined together again. First in the tabernacle, then in the temple, in the Church (the Holy Spirit within us), and finally when all has been conquered, God will restore His creation to how He intended it to be and dwell again with His creation. “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” I began asking the question in high school, “Why would God put us here on earth if He intends for us to be with Him in heaven?” Revelation 21 and 22 points us to the answer. God is finishing what He started in His creation, making all things right again.

The Christian walk is not one about going to heaven someday but one of heaven coming to earth to redeem its brokenness. When we receive the Holy Spirit we enter into a time of “already but not yet.” We have the reality of heaven within us, and where we go we take that reality with us. Where Christian live the world should look drastically different. We don’t “do good deeds” in order to “go to heaven when we die.” We do good deeds because we have heaven within us and we make this the reality wherever we are. When we see the brokenness of this creation we redeem it for God because that is what God is doing and would have us do. We give food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, love the unlovable, etc. all because the is what God is doing with the brokenness of creation. We make this the reality where we live while we await God doing this fully in the end. We live out our baptism daily, the death, burial, and resurrection, putting to death the brokenness of the old creation in order that it will be resurrected when Christ returns.

In his book Surprised by Hope, N. T. Write articulates this reality well:

“What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether. They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.”

One of the biggest realities that should to be emphasized and reemphasized is that “there will be no more death.” Why do we have hope in this life no matter what the world, governments, and rulers throw at us? Death has been conquered. Nothing can be taken away from us because we have life in Christ. The resurrection is our reality. All that has the seed of God planted within it will be planted in the New Creation and made new again. Praise God that death has been conquered in Christ and all things will be made new again. Praise God that He desires to be with His creation. Praise God that he would remove death from us so that we might be made new. Hope in God not in the things of this world. There are plenty of things that are good here but don’t mistake them as God.

I want to end as Kent did yesterday with my continuing assessment of Revelation. I got this from Randy Harris who is a professor at Abilene Christian University. God wins! Pick a side. Don’t be stupid.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 3, 2013 in Bible Blog, Revelation

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Revelation 20 – Still a Picture

So up to this point in Revelation we have continued to recognize we are looking at pictures.  We see a red dragon, recognize that its a symbolic picture and seek to determine what truth is behind the picture.  We see a beast, recognize that it is a picture, and seek the truth behind the picture.  So now, we read about 1,000 years and a dragon and thrones, its a figure, an image that indicates a truth.  It’s also fitting that this is the conclusion of what we have been talking about (the fall of Rome) rather than something new.  

The first three verses show that Satan has indeed been defeated, is now chained and captive.  His defeat is complete.  Rome is destroyed.  The persecutor is no more.  Then verses 4-10 tell us what happens to the saints.  Although they suffered for a time, they have seen their enemy destroyed by Jesus and they now join him on thrones.  They are safe and secure from all alarms.  There is no more reason to fear or suffer.

The 1,000 years is not something that can be shown on a calendar.  Its a symbolic figure.  10=completeness.  10x10X10=1,000 or very complete.  So what we see here is that after the time of destruction of Rome is complete there will come another time when Satan will return to have another go at God’s people.  When?  Sometime.  Where? Somewhere.  The point is that although God defeated Satan and Rome, Satan will continue to wage war against the saints.  That’s why this book continues to matter to us today.  We need to know what the saints learned in Rome, that God will be faithful and will bring them through whatever trials face them.  God is greater than any force against us and God will be victorious and we can share in his victory.

However, the victory isn’t for everybody.  Now the celebration earlier in the chapter was figurative so this judgment is as well.  This judgment is still against Rome.  It’s telling us that Rome and the enemies of God and his people will suffer utter, irrevocable defeat.

I close with Ryan’s oft used assessment of Revelation because it certainly fits here as in other places: God wins, pick a side, don’t be stupid.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Revelation

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Revelation 19 – King of Kings and Lord of Lords

The scene of Revelation 19 is one of celebration, of worship; a genuine response spilled out by those who truly understand the victory of God. I once heard worship defined as our natural reaction to who God is and what He is doing in this world. For worship to not be our natural reaction is to realize that we truly don’t understand who God is and what He is doing in this world. What we see in Revelation 19 is an outpouring of praise for God. Not because they have to. Not because that is what they are created to do. Not because they hope it brings them into His favor. They worship because in the fall of Babylon they see the great victory that God has. They see how mighty He is. They see that all that is destroying the world is being dealt with. Their overwhelming response from deep within them is to worship God.

“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God!”

The twenty-four elders and four living creatures fell down and worshipped God in agreement with the great multitude. All who are servants of God are invited to take part in this celebration, both great and small. In response to this invitation, there is a roar of praise rushing down like water:

“Hallelujah! For the Lord God Almighty reigns!”

The Church, the Bride of Christ, has made herself ready. This is time for celebration! The Lamb and His Bride are going to unite. The angel turns to John and tells him to write down that those who are invited to this great wedding are blessed. In this moment, John is surrounded by praise rushing down and falls to his knees to worship as well. The problem is that he has mistaken the one who has revealed God to him as the one to be worshipped. I don’t think we should take away that John worshipped an angel. In this moment, John represents the struggle that we often have of worshipping the messengers of God while thinking we have worshipped God. The humility of this angel is a good reminder to continually point people to God when they stop to praise us for how God has been revealed through us. We need to continually listen to God’s voice so that we know the difference between His voice and the voice of His messengers.

This chapter ends with the rider on the white horse who is called “Faithful and True.” His name is the Word of God. He has a name written on him that no one knows. The armies of heaven follow behind him on white horses wearing white. There are meanings behind all of the imagery here but I am completely at a loss. The main point that needs to be heard here is that all of the nations will fall at the hand of the rider on the white horse. All kings, generals, and the mighty will not be able to stand up to him. Where do you put your hope, in this nation or in Christ who is victorious? The Kingdom of God is bigger than the nation in which you live. We cannot confuse our nation with the Kingdom of God. The King will be victorious over the nations. He is King of kings and Lord of lords!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Bible Blog, Revelation

 

Tags: , , ,

Revelation 18 – Alas, Babylon! The Great City has Fallen!

We are continually reminded throughout Revelation that heaven is in control. Out of heaven comes an angel who illuminated the earth by his splendor. The world formerly was illuminated by the splendor of Babylon but has now become overshadowed. Like the mighty Titanic, no one ever thought Babylon would have ever fallen. People placed their hope, value, future, and identity in Babylon and now it is gone!

Babylon is significant for the Jews because when they were taken into captivity by Babylon many of them just accepted their new fate and stayed there. They adapted to their new surroundings and acted as though they themselves were from Babylon. The voice in verse 4 calls these people out of Babylon. Those who loved this great city of Babylon will mourn for her loss. With the loss of Babylon they too have lost all things. They have placed all of their value in this great city.

What kingdom do you live in? You are currently an exile in a foreign land, a resident alien. Every country that is not the Kingdom of God is Babylon. Have you decided to become a citizen of the place where you find yourself? Or, have you held on to your true identity as a citizen of God’s Kingdom? We continually have to evaluate our actions as well as the actions of the culture in which we reside. Have we assimilated? Do we look like everyone else around us? We are not concerned with Babylon because we are from a place that is greater. Alas, Babylon! The great city has fallen!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 28, 2013 in Bible Blog, Revelation

 

Tags: ,

Revelation 17 – Great Prostitute

There are many theories about who the prostitute is in chapter 17, but what makes the most sense to me is that the book is continuing with its discussion about the fall of Rome.  In addition to being consistent with the rest of the book, there are other clues that fit with Rome being the harlot.

  • She sits on seven hills (17:9)
  • She rules the earth in John’s day (17:18)
  • She is a terrible persecutor of the saints (17:6, 18:20-24)
  • She is the leading commercial power on earth (18:3, 11, 15-19)
  • She is supported by the military power of Rome (17:3,7)
  • She is destroyed by her own military power (17:16-17)

For a discussion on the heads and horns, check out the blog on Revelation 13.  It appears that the book has been moving through the seals, trumpets, and bowls, with pauses for comfort and anticipation between each up to this point.  Now that we know that Rome is destroyed, the book is going to take a step back and actually give us a better explanation about how that is going to actually take place.  This explanation takes the form of the Harlot sitting on the beast.

I think it’s worth noting that most of the destruction that befalls Rome comes from it’s allies.  In other words, the chaos and destructive nature of evil will eventually cause the forces of evil to turn on itself.  In contrast, the Kingdom of God, the Church, is called to be a unified and coordinated community that works together to promote goodness and righteousness and justice throughout the earth.  So whenever you see the Church bickering, in conflict, and chaotic, what you are seeing is God’s people behaving like the forces of evil in this world.  And when that happens, I think we need to take a hard look in the mirror and get back to being the people of unity, grace and love that God calls us to be.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 25, 2013 in Revelation

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Revelation 16 – Shock and Awe

We’ve unsealed the seven seals and heard the blasts of the seven trumpets and now we watch as the seven bowls of God’s wrath are poured out on the earth.  As I read this, I am reminded of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 with a military offensive that was termed “Shock and Awe.”  The idea was that the attack would come so fast, and be so overwhelming, and so debilitate the enemy that they would be unable to stand against the US.  I remember watching on a tv in my OC dorm room as the bombs fell and the military raced towards Baghdad.  I couldn’t stop watching for days and slept little, watching round the clock coverage.  While I know many have strong opinions about the Iraq War, my intent is not to comment on the motives or execution of that war, but rather to comment on how the horrible and overwhelming force demonstrated in those days doesn’t come close to the images here in Revelation 16.

The time for warnings has passed and now God pours out his wrath on the earth to punish those who bear the mark of the beast.  The horrors again echo the plagues on Egypt with darkness, hail, storms, water turned to blood, and more.  It is devastating.  However, it is also reminiscent of the Creation with judgments affecting the water, the land, the skies, the sun, the darkness, and humanity.  It is complete and utter destruction of everything.  And on top of everything, these plagues are not coming one at a time as in Exodus, but seem to be piling on top of one another bringing exponentially horrific suffering.

And at several intervals throughout this terrible judgment, the angels stop the work of pouring out wrath to praise God and commend him for his righteous justice that is being brought upon the earth.  This is hard to imagine for people like me who live in a clean, orderly, society without violent oppressors.  But when you live in a corrupt world where the powerful bring pain to the powerless and the faithful are persecuted, you understand the need for God to cleanse the earth.  You pray daily for God to put things back the way they belong.  So when God brings this wrath upon the two beasts, sent by the Dragon, there is praise from the angels and rejoicing from the saints.  God is right.  God is good.  God takes care of his creatures and his creation, even when it means cleaning up his creation from some of his creatures.

The final bowls are setting up a great battle and even mention the battlefield Armageddon.  Some believe that this will someday be the location of a huge end-of-time battle.  However, when we get to this battle later, even though armies gather on both sides of the battle field, only Jesus fights.  This isn’t a battle between humans.  This is a battle between Jesus and the enemies of his people to restore order to the creation and justice for God’s people.

To those who stand opposed to God and persecute his people…you are on notice.  God will bring justice.  God wins.  Pick a side.  Don’t be stupid.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 24, 2013 in Revelation

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,