Week 52, Day 5
December 30, 2022
Scripture: Revelation 22
Here we are, we did it! 52 weeks in the New Testament. Thank you for joining me in this journey.
““Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who keep the words of the prophecy in this scroll.” I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!”” (Revelation 22:7–9)
Keep the words. Keep allegiance, devotion and worship to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. We are victorious through him and him only.
Revelation, for all its confusion, is very clearly about the victory of Jesus and the hope we have in him.
What follows this call to keep the words is a slip up from John himself. John worships the angel who reveals this to him, why? John doesn’t have to include this faux pas in this, but he does because he is very much interested in teaching us how easy it is to give our worship to the wrong thing. The angel’s response to John’s worship is clear: “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you…Worship God!”
We can give our worship to person, nation, goods, people, experiences… – let us not do that and “Worship God!”
Praise God our Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who gives us new life through His Spirit.
Let us join with all the church and sing, “Come!”
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let those who hear say, “Come!” Let those who are thirsty come; and let all who wish take the free gift of the water of life.” (Revelation 22:17)
“He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)
Come, Lord Jesus, Come!
Week 52, Day 4
December 29, 2022
“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”” (Revelation 21:1–8, TNIV)
“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.” (Revelation 21:22–24, TNIV)
God is making his home here with us. The hope and culmination of scripture, the culmination of everything is God with us. All our pain and suffering will be over. God will wipe every tear from our eyes. God will right the wrongs and end the pain of sin and death.
As the Church continues to face so many challenges of faith and allegiance to God, as we navigate the pain and suffering of life and death in this world, we are looking forward towards heaven. We have hope up a new day that is dawning.
Fix our hope on him.
Week 52, Day 3
December 28, 2022
Scripture: Revelation 20
“I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4)
I’m certain this is the most perplexing of passages in all of Revelation, and compared to the rest of the Bible, one of the most difficult to understand.
Here’s what I generally recommend: Don’t interpret the rest of the Bible through the lens of Revelation 20. Don’t read Revelation 20 into passages, rather, let what we know of certainty about Christ, the Old and New Testaments, inform our reading of Revelation 20. Doing that, doesn’t alleviate much of the confusion. But it keeps me from deriving from the Bible things it isn’t intending to communicate.
So read and reread this text with the certainties of Christ and his reign and resurrection in focus. Bring in certain theological truths we are certain of, like: Jesus is Lord and Christ, the first-born over all creation, victorious over sin and death and deserving of all my allegiance.
No matter where we are on the millennial theological spectrum, who I declare Jesus to be, and how I conduct my life because of it, seems to be the heart of this text. Again, Revelation is a book about worship. Those who are judged and condemned are those who have given their lives over to the worship of the beast.
Those who are redeemed, trust in Christ.
I don’t intend this as avoidance of the hard translation and interpretive issues facing us in Revelation 20. But rather than get a precise timeline of where we are in history, or how everything is going to shape up and how, I want to read it for what truth it is teaching. We are loved by God and redeemed by the power of Jesus Christ. Trust in Him.
Let that be a unifying interpretative angle to draw us to faithful obedience to Jesus Christ and encourage us.
Hope that helps!
Week 52, Days 1 and 2
Scripture: Revelation 18-19
““The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves. “They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’” (Revelation 18:11–14)
“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s people.)” (Revelation 19:6–8, TNIV)
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.” (Revelation 19:11)
John sees a future filled with justice, peace and glory given to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are being called out of the world, to trust in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The cargo list of the ships has an alarming ending. Tacked onto the end of the shipment containers list is “human beings who are slaves.” God’s judgment on the economic practices of empire is coming, and it will be swift.
The merchants are mourning the loss of income, and goods. What has made them comfortable and rich, is now gone. They are mourning loss of income, comforts, but they seem to have little concern for the human lives who are now set free.
For those who put their hope in possessions, in material gain, in the comfort of the consumption of linens, material things, spices and goods, and even slaves – well they will mourn on the day of the great city’s peril.
But those who trust in the Lord, those who find their lives in him, they will truly be vindicated and filled with joy on the day of Judgment.
Judgement will come and reveal the truth about us. Where do we find our strength and comfort? Who do we worship?
John makes it clear here, “Worship Jesus Only!” He is the rider on the horse, His name is faithful and true. He is coming to right the wrongs of the world.
This then begs inward and careful reflection. How am I complicit to the unfair and unjust economic practices of our age?
This is alarming, and will point us towards who our true God is:
“In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’ “Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off.” (Revelation 18:17)
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s people.) Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”” (Revelation 19:7–9)
Will you mourn the loss of your comforts and riches?
Or will you delight that God’s peace and justice have come in the Lord Jesus Christ. Where is our hope and who gets our praise today?
Let it be Jesus only!
Week 51, Days 4 and 5
We will take these two chapters together. It is important for us that the great battle, the great big set up is a quick war, “Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘it is done!’”
We can speculate a great deal about how all of the end will come to be, but what we can be assured of here is simply this: God’s justice will be righteous and swift. Evil will be conquered, dealt with and destroyed. God’s righteousness will reign.
God’s judgment on the great prophetess, on the beasts and the dragon is coming to fruition. All the powers and principalities who have warred against God and His people will be no more.
Where do we as Christ followers fit into this grand story? God is judging the Roman empire, judging evil and nations that rise and war against God’s people. What word of encouragement is there for us? “They (kings and kingdom) will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” (17:14)
We give our allegiance to Jesus above all. He is victorious over sin, death and the powers. The Lamb will triumph.
We overcome through the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
Week 51, Day 3
December 21, 2022
Scripture: Revelation 15
“They held harps given them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”” (Revelation 15:3–4)
I once heard of a preacher who memorized the book of Revelation. Of all the books to memorize, why Revelation?
“Well,” he said, “When I get to heaven, I don’t want to be staring at the sheet music.”
His point, a good one, that the book of Revelation is filled with worship. When the wrath of God is complete, when all the wrongs are made right, when God restore peace and his righteousness pours out to us all, there will be worship.
Those who have been victorious over the beast and its image will worship God. We can be assured, that at the result of God’s wrath, there will be celebration of God’s goodness and right judgment. “Just and true are your ways.” “Great and Marvelous are your deeds!”
We can trust in God’s judgment. God is just, marvelous and worthy of all praise.
Week 51, Day 2
December 20, 2022
Scripture: Revelation 14
“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”” (Revelation 14:12–13)
The sickle will be swung, and those who have warred against God and his people will be judged. This passage instill fear, but John’s intentions are clear, “this calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God.”
A lot of how Revelation gets taught creates fear and anxiety. But for those who trust in the Lamb, who walk with the Lord Jesus, the message is quite clear for us, it is patient endurance.
John pulls back the curtain and tells us that there will be great trials and great hardship for those who love the Lord. The beasts and Dragon will war against us. But there is a judgment coming, and God’s wrath will be poured out.
Endure. Don’t give up. Keep trusting in the Lord. He is good and he sees your suffering, he knows your heart, hang on!
That’s the encouragement. I can read the book and see why it gets sensationalized and confusing. But the intention was not to confuse the Christian but to convict us. To call us to faithful devotion to the Lamb.
He reigns and evil will be vanquished.
We live in a new reality, a new understanding, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” Christ is greater than death, we live a new life in Him. Death is defeated and Jesus Reigns!
Week 51, Day 1
December 19, 2022
Scripture: Revelation 13
The Dragon is warring against the people of God. Things are not looking very good for those who would choose to follow the Lamb. Out of the sea comes that which is stealing the worship of God and warring against the saints of Christ.
Many will fall under the pressure of the beasts. It has a megaphone of power and control that will make life miserable for those who trust in Christ. There will be persecution and economic difficulty for those who choose to remain faithful to Jesus Christ.
In our comfortable world of freedoms, we are often insulated from the sorts of pressures that our dear brothers and sisters are facing around the world. There are rothers and sisters in Christ who must worship God in secrecy. They face death all day long for their love and devotion to Jesus. This is the pressure of persecution.
The pressure we face is different, but it is still something that steals our worship. We grow increasingly comfortable that we do not realize that our worship is compromised. We can give glory and praise to nation, people, companies, and so much more. This is the pressure of prosperity and comfortability.
There is a battle for worship. The beast and dragons have lost, they are defeated, so they spend their days making the lives of those who trust in Jesus miserable and difficult. The dragon is a sore loser.
Here’s the encouragement and challenge:
““If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.” This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.”(Revelation 13:10)
“This calls for wisdom. Let those who have insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.” (Revelation 13:18)
This calls for patient endurance, faithfulness, and wisdom for God’s people.
As we take all of this into consideration, may we truly grow in wisdom, patience and faithfulness. Wisdom calls for us to discern the times, how is our worship being compromised?
Patience calls for a seeking of the heart of God and life in His Spirit. My patience grows as I seek the heart of God.
And faithfulness calls for us to look to our Savior, who was faithful, even faithful to death. May we draw from his faithfulness and strength.
Paul teaches us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, able to test and approve God’s good and perfect will. May God continue to transform and renew us as we seek the heart of God.
Week 50, Day 5
December 16, 2022
Scripture: Revelation 12
“When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach.” (Revelation 12:13–14, TNIV)
“Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17)
I read a news article about a satanic cult that put up a display of a serpent alongside the Nativity scene at the Illinois Capital building.
I bet they thought they were really undermining the whole Nativity scene. But as John here describes in Revelation, the cult actually made the display more accurate. Thank you satanic cult for making the scene more biblical!
I know what you are thinking, “Jordan! What are you saying!”
When we read the Nativity story, the birth of Christ, we hear of the terrible plot of Herod to kill any would be Messiah from rising through the ranks and make him renounce his throne. So he wars against all male children in Bethlehem. The dragon uses Herod as his minion of harm.
John’s reading of this event turns towards what is really happening, and that is that Satan himself is waring against Mary, Jesus and all the children of God. The dragon is coming after the child. He’s been defeated and now he is making life miserable for all who will choose to follow Christ.
Maybe that’s reading a bit too much into the text. But here’s the great affirmation we need from all of it, that is, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Revelation 12:11)
We triumph by the blood of Jesus and remaining faithful to Him.
So, as always in the book of Revelation, let us hold fast to Jesus Christ, and trust in Him. We are victorious by his blood.
Remember, the Dragon is a loser.
He loses to the woman. He loses to the child.
He loses to those who trust in Christ.
Week 50, Days 3-4
December 14-15, 2022
Scripture: Revelation 10-11
“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small— and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm.” (Revelation 11:15–19)
I can’t and won’t try to figure out the “times,” and tell you when the world will come to an end and the Lord will return to judge those who have destroyed the world. I’m certain that Jesus will return when no one is predicting him too. I don’t claim to know something that Jesus himself provides no real clarity on.
So that’s not what I try to do when I open and read Revelation, I don’t try to decipher the times and figure out his return. Instead, I’m asking an important question about worship and devotion to Jesus Christ. I’m looking at the result, what is all the current turmoil pointing towards? What is God up to? Instead of fear and dread of what the trumpets and seals reveal, I am asking questions about who is worshiping God and what are they saying? If at the end of all of “it” God is thoroughly and benevolently worshiped, and his goodness and grace is celebrated, shouldn’t that spur comfort in me now? After all that is seen and heard, they fall down glorifying God. That’s ultimately how this passage ends, doesn’t it, with worship? The new beginnings of restored creation is marked with trust in and celebration of the Almighty God.
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”
Here’s what we know.
God will destroy those who destroy the earth.
“And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God,” (Revelation 11:16)
We fall and worship our God!
The culmination of the story is the certain reign of Jesus Christ. His kingdom is one without end. So my worship and life becomes a matter of the kingdom priority. Will I place my trust in King Jesus? Will I live under the reign of Jesu and turn my heart towards him in Worship in all things, and all ways?
Be assured of this my dear friends and fellow believers, Jesus reigns and his kingdom is without end. Trust in Him, worship him.
It’s the Christmas season, so it’s hard not to hear in my heart today, “And peace will reign forever and ever.”
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.