The River of Life

Today’s reading is Revelation 22.

John’s story telling expands even more. We’ve had the repeated cycles in the book. Further, we’ve seen how as he ended his story, he went back to pick up themes he used at the beginning of the book. Now, here at the end of our entire Bibles (can that be a coincidence), John goes all the way back to the beginning of the whole story. What we are witnessing is the restoration of the Garden, but it is a new and improved Garden. It is not just a tree of life, but a river of life surrounded by life-giving trees. There is no night because God is it’s light. And the inhabitants reign forever and ever without fall or failure. WOW! No doubt the ultimate fulfillment of this picture is in eternity where Christ’s church finds its ultimate victory. However, don’t miss the point John is making for his readers in their particular predicament. He is pointing out that this imagery is not merely the church in eternity. This imagery is Christ’s church at all times. Christ’s church, Christ’s bride is this garden city. As the Garden was God’s first sanctuary, His first dwelling place with man, the church is God’s final resting place with man. Whether on earth or ultimately around His throne in heaven, Christ’s church is His temple, His dwelling place, His city, His kingdom, His Bride. And here is the kicker. If you want to be part of the Bride, the city, the kingdom in eternity, you have to be part of it now. The Spirit and the Bride say come. Come now. Come drink from the fountain of living waters that flows from God’s throne, by Christ’s cross, through the Heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, the church. And never leave this refreshing stream. I understand, in its present form, we don’t always see it as this image at the end of Revelation. But this is what it is and, in time, it will be vindicated and demonstrated as such. So, get in now and stay there.

Next week’s reading is Luke 1.

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The Bride

Today’s reading is Revelation 21.

I know we’ve talked about the Bride before, but now we meet her again in all her glory. At the beginning of Revelation, we were introduced to her in the image of the seven churches. At that time, they were struggling with faithfulness and loyalty to the Hero. But now, just as one of the seven angels with the seven bowls of God’s wrath introduced us to the seductress (Revelation 17:1), one of those same angels shows the Bride. The seductress was out in the wilderness, the Bride is at the top of a mountain. The seductress was pictured as a woman on the back of dragon, though she was called the city Babylon. The Bride is pictured as a city. And what a city. Perfectly square, with insurmountable walls, unassailable gates, unbreakable foundation. It is full of the glory of God. The Lamb is it light. God Himself is its Temple. While I don’t want to take away the beautiful picture of eternity most of us jump to when we see this picture, we need to understand that John’s point was not simply that in the end we go to heaven. His point was this is the bride of Christ; this is the kingdom of Christ; this is the church of Christ. Yes, the enemies gather around our city. Yes, they besiege our city. Yes, they mount their attack against our city. But our city is unassailable. The question is not who will win this war. The question is to which city will you flee for refuge: Babylon or the Heavenly Jerusalem? When you see how the story ends, the choice is obvious.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 22.

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Babylon

Today’s reading is Revelation 17.

A great contrast starts in this chapter. We finally meet the immoral woman. The seductress who competes with the Bride to steal the love of the Hero, or at least keep the proper marriage from happening. Think Ursula in the Disney version of “The Little Mermaid.” Or the step-sisters in the stories of Cinderella. She has been mentioned earlier in the book (think Jezebel in the letter to Thyatira). John sees her as a woman on a seven-headed dragon. She is named Babylon and is described as a city. Doesn’t that also fit the hero stories we’ve read in the past. This is the enemy city that needs to be defeated for the Hero to win the day. The one key I hope we notice in all this is a statement that is often overlooked. The ten horns are ten kings. We often get so distracted by trying to figure out who the ten kings are that we actually miss the important part. These ten kings will receive authority. They will make war on the Lamb. However, that authority is only for one hour. Doesn’t that highlight what we’ve noticed about everything in this book. Yes, at times it looks like the enemy is winning. Babylon is drunk with the blood of the saints. Her supporting kings have authority with the beast who in earlier chapters made war on the saints and even conquered them (Revelation 12:7). But this authority last for only one hour. That’s it. Just one hour. Then the Lamb conquers them. Obviously, this is not a literal amount of time. It is, however, demonstrating that the time is small, so hang on. Yes, the immoral city arises and conspires with the kings of the earth in great immorality and attack on Christ and His Bride. But their victory is short lived. So hang on. Jesus always wins! Judgment is coming on the seductress, the immoral woman, the sinful city. Don’t join her, avoid her. Which, by the way, was the heart of the warning to Thyatira.

Monday’s reading is Revelation 18.

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If You Have an Ear, Use It

Today’s reading is Revelation 3.

As Jesus calls to the Bride in these letters to the churches, He repeatedly says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Basically, this means, “Listen Up!” This concept goes all the way back to the Psalms and the Prophets. God had explained that idols had ears that don’t hear and eyes that don’t see, and those who trust in them become like them (Psalm 115; 135). Of course, the main problem is the metaphorically deaf and blind rarely realize how deaf and blind they are. That is why we need to keep reading and keep praying. Because God is the one who gives eyes to see and ears to hear. If we want to see and hear, we need to be filling our hearts with God’s Word and seeking from Him the ears to hear. And as He grants them to us, we need to use them. Otherwise, we will lose them. Don’t miss this repeated admonition at the beginning of this book. We’ve got ears, we need to use them as we read. Don’t miss what the Spirit is revealing even to us today through Revelation. Only by listening will be prepared as the Bride for the Hero to stand at our door, knock, and come in and have the wedding feast with us.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 4.

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The Bride

Today’s reading is Revelation 2.

As confusing as Revelation can be, I have found it simplifying to see it as a story. It is actually a very common story. It is the story of the Hero saves the Girl. I know it is out of vogue to have a damsel in distress saved by a knight in shining armor, but that is exactly what this story is. And, in fact, I would it is one of the reasons we shouldn’t be so quick to abandon that story. In this and in our next reading, we meet the girl–or rather, in Revelation, the Bride. We already know from Ephesians 5 that all brides are to represent Christ’s church. In Revelation, we see that played out literally. The Bride is the church. That will become completely clear in Revelation 21:9. However, please note, while the damsel is in distress, she is not exactly presented as utterly helpless and just waiting around for the Hero to save her. She is embattled, but as the Hero is fighting to save her, she must fight to be true to the Hero. She must fight against enemies that would destroy her. She must especially fight against Jezebel, the Harlot, the seducing woman who would encourage the bride to fall from her virtue, purity, and devotion to the hero. Will the Bride stay true to her first love? Will she be faithful even if it means her own death? Will she only eat at her coming Groom’s banquet table, or will she eat at the table of false idols? Keep reading. And as you do, remember that we Christians make up that Bride. These are really questions for us today. 

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 3.

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She’s Back

Today’s reading is Revelation 21.

We met the Bride in Revelation 2-3, represented by the seven churches of Asia to whom this book was addressed. Now we meet her again. This time she is a city, a kingdom, coming down from heaven. Her dimensions are perfect. Her foundations are unbreakable. Her walls are unassailable. Her gates are uncompromising. God is her light. The Spirit is her life. The Son is her King, her Hero, her Groom. It is important to understand that this is not a picture of heaven. It is a picture of Christ’s Bride, His church in victory. And while that will certainly apply to Christ’s church in eternity, in heaven, we need to understand the picture is not merely about that. The point is if we want to be part of the Bride, the city of God, the kingdom of Jesus Christ in eternity, we must be part of Her now. No matter what is going on. No matter who lays siege to our city and who sets up the battering rams to our gates, Hang On. Jesus Always Wins! Don’t wait to see which way the wind blows, it will be too late. If you want to be part of the victorious kingdom in eternity, you must be part of it now.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 22.

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Babylon is Fallen

Today’s reading is Revelation 18.

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!”

Whether Babylon initially represented Rome or Jerusalem is beside the point. The point is Christ’s kingdom prevails and Babylon falls. The victory may have seemed in question for some time, but in the end Jesus always wins. We bring the message to our day. Whether the great city is Mecca, Washington, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, London, or Timbuktu, every city and kingdom that raises its head against Jesus will fall. Yes, they  will have authority for an hour. Yes, they may even drink the blood of saints. Yes, they may conquer for a time. But the worst they accomplish is sending saints to be with their Lord. In the end, they will fall. In the end, they will be defeated and destroyed. Hang on! Jesus always wins!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 19.

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