Make Earth Great Again (Revelation 21:24-22:5)

“I sometimes think we really shouldn’t have even done it. There was a lot of pressure on us at that time to do one big last show, but big is always bad in comedy.”

The show was Seinfeld, and Jerry Seinfeld shared that regret in an interview.

Series-ending episodes are more often than not panned by critics and fans alike.

You’ll find The X-Files, Star Trek Enterprise, Lost, and Roseanne on that dubious list.

Who can forget the last episode of beloved Little House on the Prairie? Spoiler alert: The little house was reduced to smithereens, along with the rest of Walnut Grove. In the TV special, The Last Farewell, the residents destroy their property to stop it from falling into the hands of a sinister development tycoon. Fans hated it.

The Revelation has come to its last episode.

There is more to chapter twenty-two, sixteen verses, and one more Bible study, to be exact. Nevertheless, in verse five, John says, “and they shall reign forever and ever.” It brings to a conclusion the future Revelation he has received. The rest is encouragement, application, and exhortation for the church through the ages.

The final episode has us checking out activity on New Earth and strolling around New Jerusalem. All is good.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 You Will Have A View Of The Perfect Earth, and #2 You Will Have A Vista Of The Pure River.

#1 – You Will Have A View Of The Perfect Earth (21:24-27)

Luxury hotels often offer you a view for a premium. If you can afford a room at Disney’s Grand Californian, you may as well shell out the extra dough for a view of California Adventure.

Think of yourself in your mansion in New Jerusalem, enjoying a perfect #PastorsPour, looking out over the renewed planet orbiting below.

Rev 21:24  And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.

The “it” is the fantastic New Jerusalem described earlier in the chapter. The city comes down from Heaven to hover over New Earth.

John told us a couple of times that there is no sun because the Lord is the light for the new heavens and New Earth.
The citizens and governments of New Earth “shall walk in its light,” and that light is the radiant glory of God.

There are “kings” over “nations” on New Earth.

John Walvoord wrote,

If Abraham is to remain Abraham throughout eternity and David is to remain David… So also will it be with those who are saved among the Gentiles. There is no indication that nationality of individuals will be stressed, but the fact that they belong to a nation is revealed in the description of New Jerusalem.

Jesus will return to Earth to end the seven-year Great Tribulation. We call His return the Second Coming. The Lord described one of His first acts upon returning. Matthew quotes Him in his Gospel:

When the Son of Man comes in His glory… then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left… Then the King will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…” Then He will also say to those on the left hand, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

“Sheep” and “goats” are designations for humans who survive the Great Tribulation. Jesus separates believers, the “sheep,” from nonbelievers, the “goats.” Nonbelievers are removed from Earth to await their final judgment.

Believers who survive the Great Tribulation will be the initial citizens of the Kingdom of God on Earth. We call His kingdom the Millennial Kingdom, or the Millennium, because it will last one thousand years.

Human beings who live during this thousand years are the true Millennials.

These surviving believers from all over Earth will retain their ethnicity. They will return to their nations. “Kings” will govern them under our supervision. They will engage in commerce. It will be Earth on spiritual steroids.

Millennials will start having children. They and their offspring repopulate Earth. Conditions on Earth during the Kingdom Age will be pretty near perfect. Resources will be abundant. The ensuing population explosion won’t need Thanos to correct it.

It is impossible to calculate the final population of the Millennium. There are too many variables. I did find one interesting article. The author postulated how quickly Earth might be repopulated after a disaster nearly wipes out the population. He said,

Humanity could bounce back surprisingly fast. At the turn of the 20th Century, the Hutterite community of North America achieved the highest levels of population growth ever recorded, doubling every 17 years. It’s a tough ask, but if each woman had eight children, we’d be back to seven billion people in just 556 years.

The Millennium is one thousand years. The potential population of the Kingdom is staggering.

Millennials will be born in unredeemed human bodies, dead in trespasses and sins, and will need to be born again to have eternal life.

Fast forward to the end of the thousand years. Multitudes of Millennials will reject Jesus, refusing His salvation. Worse, they will be led in a rebellion against Jesus by the devil.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that the majority of the people born in the Millennium reject the Lord and perish eternally. I think I’ve given you enough information to conclude that there will still be billions of believers organized into nations with leaders over them. Billions is a conservative estimate. It could be trillions or more.

We know one more thing about these people. Their human bodies must at some point be transformed into glorified bodies. The apostle Paul said, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption” (First Corinthians 15:50).

“The kingdom of God” Paul in this verse is not the Millennial Kingdom. It is eternity. Millennial believers cannot be anywhere in eternity without a glorified body.

These surviving Millennial saints will be transformed and will be at least some of the people that are inhabiting New Earth in their various “nations,” ruled by “kings.”

Rev 21:25  Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).

No ancient city’s “gates” were open 24/7. Too dangerous. It would be like having no border crossings, having a completely open border. In eternity, however, there are no threats. Folks come and go as they please.

Rev 21:26  And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.

The “glory” of the “nations” is mentioned for the second time. It reminds me of scenes in movies when emissaries from foreign lands bring gifts to the monarch. If my memory serves, there is a scene like that before Moses appears before Pharaoh in The Ten Commandments. Representatives from the nations on New Earth will bring their gifts to the Lord.

Rev 21:27  But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Read this verse as if you are in the first century. It is a reminder, a warning even, that people who defile, cause abominations, or lie, will be excluded from Heaven. There won’t be anyone like this; no sinners at all. It is, therefore, an evangelistic call. Get saved before it is too late.

The Book of Life is mentioned for the sixth time in the Revelation. It initially contains a list of the names of all those Jesus died for. Who are they?

God so loved the world that He gave Jesus, Who is the Savior of all men, especially those who believe.

The “world” encompasses everyone ever conceived.

“All men” is the human race. God loves them all, and Jesus died to save them all.

Not all will be saved.

God removes the names of human beings who die in nonbelief, having rejected the gift of salvation. Their names will be, the Bible says elsewhere, “blotted out.”

This is the first time the book is called “the Lamb’s Book of Life.” This last mention seems like it is a presentation. The final draft of the Book of Life is in the hands of the Lamb, Who alone made it possible for anyone to be saved. It’s the conclusive record of the result of His work.

Your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life. It is there right now. It will only remain in the Book of Life if Jesus is your Lamb.

Someone must die for you to have a relationship with God. That Someone was Jesus. Until He came from Heaven to Earth, lambs and other animals were acceptable, but temporary, sacrifices. Jesus died in your place as the final sacrifice, the one that all the lambs anticipated.

The wages of sin is death. The gift of God is eternal life. Believe God that Jesus was the God-man Who died for you, then rose from the dead.

#2 – You Will Have A Vista Of The Pure River (22:1-5)

You’ve been out on your porch looking over the hustle and bustle of activity between the nations of New Earth and New Jerusalem. Time to take a stroll to see what is happening in the city.

Rev 22:1  And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Bottled water is classified as either still or sparkling. Heavenly water is something beyond those descriptions. It is “clear as crystal.”

I see no reason to think of this as a metaphor. This is water, in a river, from which you will be able to drink. Robert Thomas writes, “Unlimited access to this life-giving water will assure residents of New Jerusalem of an everlasting enjoyment of life.”

The source of this river is “the Throne of God.” At the very least, this tells you it can never run dry. It will never be diverted, never dammed up, never be corrupted.

More than that, it will satisfy you. The prophet Jeremiah said of Israel, “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns – broken cisterns that can hold no water” (2:13).

A cistern was an earthen reservoir to hold run-off and rain. Think of the ponding basins that are on properties. Would you rather drink from the stagnant waters of a ponding basin or from the river of water God offers?

Israel consistently chose the stagnant water. Religion, philosophy, psychology, politics, education – all offer to satisfy your thirst. F.B. Meyer wrote, “God has set eternity in our heart, and man’s infinite capacity cannot be filled or satisfied with the things of time and sense.”

Captain Barbosa said, “The drink would not satisfy, food turned to ash in our mouths, nor the company in the world would harm or slake our lust. We are cursed men, Miss Turner.”

The human race is under a curse. Jesus reverses the curse. Only Jesus can satisfy our thirst.

Rev 22:2  In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

There are two main views on the description of the tree in relation to the river:

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “The picture presented to the mind’s eye would appear to be that of a wide street, with a river flowing down the center, like some of the broader canals of Holland, with trees growing on either side, all of them of the same kind, all called the tree of life.”

John Walvoord wrote, “The visual picture presented is that the river of life flows down through the middle of the city, and the tree is large enough to span the river, so that the river is in the midst of the street, and the tree is on both sides of the river.”

We remember the Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve lost access to it by being exiled from Eden when they disobeyed God by eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

From the account in Genesis, it would seem that there is only one Tree of Life. It was initially in Eden. God has it in His heavenly nursery, waiting for its transplanting in New Jerusalem.

I can envision a Tree of Life replanting ceremony. Maybe Adam and Eve can throw in the first handfuls of dirt.

I always think of eternity as timeless, but it isn’t. There won’t be a lunar calendar because there is no luna, but there will be a twelve-month calendar in eternity. No night, always day, yet we will somehow understand and track the passage of time.

In every survival show, the people keep track of the days until their experience comes to a welcomed end. In New Jerusalem, “when we’ve been there ten thousand years… We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.” We will keep track of time looking forward.

I don’t know if you realize it or not but in eternity, we will be fruitarians.

There will be no death, so no butchering animals. No roadkill. Housekeeping will stock a lifetime supply of Cool Whip in every mansion.

The citizens of New Earth will especially desire the “leaves.” The “leaves” are, literally, health-giving. No illness at all in eternity, so I’m not sure how the leaves impart health. I remember the Star Trek episode in which the crew was influenced by plants that shot spores on them. They became euphoric. Of course, in a world with Captain Kirk, you need your pain, so he found a way to break the effect and ruin it for everyone.

The following three verses ought to bring tears of joy.

Rev 22:3  And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.

If not yourself, you know someone who has had cancer. If it is a tumor, a surgeon cuts it out. You want to hear him say, “I got it all; you are cancer-free.”

New Earth, New Jerusalem, the universe, will be curse-free.

You will “serve Him.” Think about Jesus before you think about yourself. On Earth, He was the servant of all. He said of Himself that He came to serve, not be served.

Jesus didn’t become a servant when He became human; He was already a servant.

He voluntarily submitted to the plan to become human, to become the God-man, and die on the Cross for a lost and perishing people who would initially reject Him.

Jesus didn’t quit serving when He ascended into Heaven. He serves us, works on us, and in us to change us from glory to glory into His image.

In the Book of Ephesians, we are told that Jesus washes us by the water of His Word. In westerns, the hero will come into town, check-in to the hotel, and take a bath. He sits in the tub, and every once in a while, someone brings in a fresh bucket of hot water and pours it in.

Jesus is the one bringing buckets of the water of the Word. The creator of all things serves joyfully as a water boy.

However we serve, it will be a joy to be like our Lord.

Rev 22:4  They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.

You can see anyone’s face in pictures. Not possible when John wrote the Revelation. This is a declaration we will be face-to-face.

Forehead tattoo? Maybe. Here is another suggestion. The Message Version of the Bible reads, “they’ll look on His face, their foreheads mirroring God.”

In the Old Testament, Moses met with God. Afterward, his face would “mirror God.” It would glow for a while with the glory of God. Moses would wear a veil so the Israelites wouldn’t see the glow fade and become saddened.

The apostle Paul used Moses as an example. He wrote to the church in Corinth, saying, “Moses… put a veil over his face… Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away… we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (Second Corinthians 3:13-18).

As we grow, we glow!

Supernaturals can probably see the glow. You don’t want to look to them like a flashlight needing batteries.

There are times your countenance might reveal to human onlookers the Lord at work in you.

This glow might be what John described. His “name” on your “forehead” could be His glory in your countenance being mirrored.

Rev 22:5  There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

John wrote in his Gospel: “[Jesus] was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (1:9).

Jesus came to offer salvation to the the whole human race, “every man coming into the world.” In the end, those who believe God walk the streets of New Jerusalem, the nations of New Earth, and who can say where else in the universe.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is among the greatest works of literature. Tolkien never lets us down. The ending is no exception. Sam returns home and says humbly, “Well, I’m back.”

The words in verse five, “And they shall reign forever and ever,” are an “I’m back” ending. We will be back to where we began, face-to-face with our Creator. What was lost in Eden is restored in eternity.

You are writing your story as you walk with the Lord. If you were to die today, or be raptured, what would the last line of your life be?

Prophecy Update #672 – No Parent People

We reserve a few minutes to discuss current trends that you’d expect from reading Bible prophecy.

We are futurists. We interpret all unfulfilled prophetic passages as future events that will occur in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.

Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence, cashless commerce, the manipulation of human DNA, global government, the exponential growth of human knowledge, and the rebirth of national Israel are End Times phenomena the Bible predicts. All of these are increasingly trending in the news.

In His prophetic sermon we call the Olivet Discourse, Jesus said the End Times would be like the days of Noah.

Jesus specifically referenced the strange marriages in the days of Noah.

In Genesis chapter six we’re told that certain fallen angels were marrying human women.

Their offspring were called Nephilim. They were a race of giants.

The Old Testament talks about giants in many places. For example ten of the Israelite spies reported there were giants in the Promised Land. The giants were so big that they made the spies seem like grasshoppers in comparison. Their fear of these Nephilim is why they refused to enter the land God was giving them.

These giants were not just tall men. At least one is described as being 15 feet tall. They were a corruption of genetics.

It was mainly on account of the corruption of human DNA that God sent the global flood. He spared Noah & company because they were (quote) “righteous in their generations.” They had uncorrupted human DNA and would restore the human race.

We should therefore expect tampering with human DNA to become prevalent.

Synthetic biology is something we are mostly unaware of that is becoming more prevalent. It is defined as, “redesigning organisms for useful purposes by engineering them to have new abilities.”

The National Academies of Science said,

Synthetic biology, a field that creates technologies for engineering or creating organisms, is being used for a variety of purposes that benefit society. Applications include treating diseases, improving agricultural yields, and remediating pollution.  Even though synthetic biology holds great promise in many areas, it is possible to imagine harmful uses that could threaten U.S. citizens and military personnel.

https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2018/06/if-misused-synthetic-biology-could-expand-the-possibility-of-creating-new-weapons-dod-should-continue-to-monitor-advances-in-the-field-new-report-says

As far back as 2016, The NY Times reported,

Scientists are now contemplating the fabrication of a human genome, meaning they would use chemicals to manufacture all the DNA contained in human chromosomes. The prospect is spurring both intrigue and concern in the life sciences community because it might be possible, such as through cloning, to use a synthetic genome to create human beings without biological parents.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/14/science/synthetic-human-genome.html

One article I read, on a science-site raised a similar concern. The author wrote,

It may be interesting to consider the odds that through synthetic biology we may generate an entity of life that could occur naturally in the future through evolution. This brings us to question whether we place more value on maintaining or on influencing the course of nature. Some would argue that meddling with what we know to be naturally occurring constitutes the role of “playing God.” No living being has been able to create life from inorganic matter but if synthetic biology makes that feasible, then people may consider this to be overstepping human limitations and harboring the power to control or “rise above” nature.

Jesus pointed back to the Days of Noah as a sign, especially tampering with DNA. It’s happening.

We believe the resurrection and rapture of the church are imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it. It will happen before the Great Tribulation.

Jesus will return in the clouds.
He will raise the dead in Christ.
He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies.

We will all join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

Working For The Week’s End (Genesis 7:1-24)

‘What would you do if you only had one week left to live’ has been the premise of daydreams, movies, and plenty of second-rate jokes. But here is a different question: What would you do if everyone else had only one week to live? That was the reality that Noah found himself in in Genesis 7. After perhaps 100 years of building, the time had come when God would do what he had said so many years before. The moment of destruction and deliverance was upon the world.

Genesis 7:1 – Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.

Noah was not just a religious man, he had a relationship with God. He “walked with God.” We don’t know how much direct communication he had with the Lord during this ark-building project. God had spoken, but it’s altogether possible that Noah had not heard from God for many years. Even so, Noah had acted on the Word that he had received.

When does God speak to us? Some of these Bible characters went decades between interactions with the Lord. We are not subject to that kind of drought. We have the completed, inspired, reliable Word of God available to us any time, day or night. Christians have the Holy Spirit living in our hearts. We have a spiritual family that we’re to be connected to – the local church – by whom we’re encouraged, supported and sharpened as we walk with the Lord. If we haven’t heard from the Lord in awhile, it isn’t because the supply is depleted, it is because we have not visited the storehouses of God’s provision. After all, the Bible says that He gives to all “generously and ungrudgingly.”

God said, “It’s time for your family to be delivered from the coming wrath against sin.” We’ve seen it before but it’s worth repeating: Noah wasn’t saved because he earned a place on the ark. He didn’t win a contest. No, Hebrews states emphatically that he was made righteous by God because he had faith. That’s the same work that God does in a life today when a person believes in Him.

Noah was the only righteous person in the entire world. Maybe you are the only Christian in your school or at your job or in your family. Take courage! God is still true. God is still working and He delights in using you to make an eternal difference right where you are.

Now, all this time, Noah had not been given a date for when the flood would come. It must’ve been a strange thing, knowing that the ark must be completed, but, at the same time, we know a huge project like that always has more you could do. Another coat of pitch on the hull. Another calculation for the water and grain. Noah’s efforts would have to be urgent but continual. The same is true for us. There is a judgment coming. We’ve been enlisted to be a part of the rescue work. Our efforts should be urgent and continual, all the more as we see the day approaching.

Genesis 7:2-3 – 2 You are to take with you seven pairs, a male and its female, of all the clean animals, and two of the animals that are not clean, a male and its female, 3 and seven pairs, male and female, of the birds of the sky—in order to keep offspring alive throughout the earth.

Bible scholars disagree over whether it was seven of certain animals or seven pairs. It seems that pairs is more fitting, as it says “male and female,” which would require an even number.

It’s taken for granted that Noah knew the difference between clean and unclean animals. These early believers had more information, given by God, than the text records for us.

This clean/unclean thing gives us a good reminder: God is the One Who establishes truth. He decided this list for Noah. That doesn’t mean we can’t eat pork, the New Testament deals with that. But we find ourselves in a time when everyone wants to debate every truth, every definition, every category and meaning. But absolute truth is found in the Word of God and it does not change.

Let’s take a moment to realize the awesome responsibility God was giving Noah. “Take these animals…in order to keep offspring alive throughout the earth.” If the Lord had given me that task, I might answer back with, “Sure thing…but maybe could we have like 20 pairs instead of one? I don’t like these odds! I need some wiggle room!”

This restriction reminds us that God is able to do a very lot with a very little. Whether it’s two little piglets or a widow’s two mites or mustard seed faith. But here’s the question: Do we trust the Lord when it seems like His way isn’t enough? For example: Do we trust God enough to give Him some of our finances like He asks us to or do we answer back, “Lord, I need more before I do that?” Do we trust God enough to stand against the pressure of the culture, even when everyone around us is going along? Do we trust God enough to be the Director of where we live, who we marry, how we live, and what we do? He has plans and methods and commands and they can be trusted.

Genesis 7:4 – 4 Seven days from now I will make it rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing I have made I will wipe off the face of the earth.”

Noah was, literally, in the last days of his world. It must have been a very full week. Most of you, when going on a long trip, go through a lot of details while packing and preparing. I’m sure Noah was very busy. In fact, we know he was.

Genesis 7:5 – 5 And Noah did everything that the Lord commanded him.

Noah is a walking illustration of saving faith. Saving faith is obedient.

John 14:15 – [Jesus said] 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commands.

Hebrews 5:9 – [Jesus is] …the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him

We see these polls about how many people “believe in God.” Gallup has put the number as high as 87% of Americans. But it’s obvious that 87% of Americans are not obeying God’s Word.

You’ve probably heard someone called a RINO. It stands for “Republican in name only.” It’s been an especially popular slur in the last few years, but it dates back to the 1920’s. It’s meant to describe someone who takes a label but doesn’t adhere to certain positions. We should be more worried about being disciples in name only. Do we obey? Obedience has real world consequences.

Genesis 7:6 – 6 Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came and water covered the earth.

Noah was two thirds of the way through life. God uses people of all ages, in all places for His glory.

Genesis 7:7-10 – 7 So Noah, his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives entered the ark because of the floodwaters. 8 From the animals that are clean, and from the animals that are not clean, and from the birds and every creature that crawls on the ground, 9 two of each, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, just as God had commanded him. 10 Seven days later the floodwaters came on the earth.

In total, they would be on the ark for 377 days. In verse 13 it will seem like they entered the ark on the day the waters came. Why? There would be a lot of in and out that final week – loading animals, supplies, and personal effects. But also, Noah was a real person like you and me. You have unsaved family and friends, right? If you knew they were going to die next Tuesday, wouldn’t you find a moment to visit them just one more time and try to convince them that they could be saved?

Some commentators make much of the idea that the ark was proportioned like a huge coffin. I think that is taking a little too much license, but it does give us an analogy to think about. We know Noah was a preacher. I’m sure that he was preaching right up to the moment he was closed into this big wooden box. As believers, we want our lives to be preaching to the very end. I don’t only mean the end of our mortal lives. There are times when you’re going to make an exit – when you move to a different place or leave your job. Find ways to proclaim the Gospel in those last days.

A few weeks ago we hosted the retirement ceremony for a lady who comes to the church who had served for twenty years in the Navy. It was a great event. It was particularly great because this faithful sister used the chance to proclaim the Gospel to a group of people she may not see again.

This seven day countdown also proves to us God’s compassion. He gave the people of earth 120 years to repent. And now, He provides a final grace period before the end. He’ll do so again before the whole world is once more judged. Only in the future it won’t be 7 short days, it will be 7 years.

Genesis 7:11-12 – 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the sources of the vast watery depths burst open, the floodgates of the sky were opened, 12 and the rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

There are a variety explanations for the mechanics of the flood. In the end, we can’t be sure. There’s the vapor canopy model, the hydroplate model, the catastrophic plate tectonics model. It might have been a mixture of various occurrences. The hydroplate model has compelling evidence, though it doesn’t solve every question. No theory does. I’d encourage you to visit sites like Answers In Genesis and the Institute For Creation Research and take a look at their fascinating articles.

But, if the hydroplate theory is correct, the bursting of water and pressure would’ve been the equivalent of 30 trillion hydrogen bombs exploding on the earth. This wasn’t just a bunch of rain. This was a disaster the likes of which we’ve never seen. Along with torrents of water, magma and rock would’ve been falling from the sky. Commentators point out that the proportions of the ark are nautically ideal – that because of the way it was laid out, it could be brought almost to a 90 degree angle and still not capsize. But it wasn’t just a really good design. God would’ve had to protect the ark from falling dangers, like He would later in the book of Exodus during the plague of hail which fell on the Egyptians but not in the land of Goshen. God will, once again, provide miraculous protection for His 144,000 witnesses during the Great Tribulation.

Genesis 7:13-16 – 13 On that same day Noah along with his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, entered the ark, along with Noah’s wife and his three sons’ wives. 14 They entered it with all the wildlife according to their kinds, all livestock according to their kinds, all the creatures that crawl on the earth according to their kinds, every flying creature—all the birds and every winged creature—according to their kinds. 15 Two of every creature that has the breath of life in it came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 Those that entered, male and female of every creature, entered just as God had commanded him. Then the Lord shut him in.

Why is this account so repetitive? God obviously wants us to understand this was a true and literal event. It is also the end of one era and the beginning of a new era – a new era with a whole new world, whose geology demands understanding. But, on a devotional level, this text is solemn. We should read it and realize how serious God is about sin. It’s not a joke to Him. It’s not a small thing. At the same time, He is also serious about saving. He will not fail to save. He always makes a way.

We’re told that “The Lord shut [Noah] in.” Adrian Rogers points out that God did not tell Noah to make a little peg on the side of the ark and then say, “Ok, Noah – as long as you hold onto that peg, you’ll be safe.” No, God shut them in securely. You don’t work to get your salvation and you don’t work to maintain it. God is the Author and Finisher of your faith. He holds you in His hand.

In that moment, when the Lord closed the door, I imagine Noah might’ve said, “Lord, can’t you come in here with us?” I’d rather have the Angel of the Lord in the boat with me, wouldn’t you? But it’s clear that God was with Noah. He watched Noah and looked deep into his heart. He spoke to Noah and helped him obey. God knew Noah’s family and cared for them. God is with you in every storm, in every hurt, in every struggle, in every valley. He will never leave you or forsake you.

Genesis 7:17-20 – 17 The flood continued for forty days on the earth; the water increased and lifted up the ark so that it rose above the earth. 18 The water surged and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 Then the water surged even higher on the earth, and all the high mountains under the whole sky were covered. 20 The mountains were covered as the water surged above them more than twenty feet.

Everything about earth’s geography changed after the flood. Some scientists suggest the highest mountains were five or six thousand feet. But even the volume of water shows God’s tender care for his people. The ark was 45 feet high, meaning that, as it floated, half of it would be submerged in water, which means if water wasn’t at least 20 feet or so higher than the highest peak, the ark might run aground. In wrath God remembers mercy. He is thoughtful of His people at all times.

Genesis 7:21-24 – 21 Every creature perished—those that crawl on the earth, birds, livestock, wildlife, and those that swarm on the earth, as well as all mankind. 22 Everything with the breath of the spirit of life in its nostrils—everything on dry land died. 23 He wiped out every living thing that was on the face of the earth, from mankind to livestock, to creatures that crawl, to the birds of the sky, and they were wiped off the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. 24 And the water surged on the earth 150 days.

Only those 8 believers were saved. There was no second boat. Tubal-Cain didn’t secretly sneak onto the ark like in that ridiculous Russell Crowe movie. In the coming wrath, only those who believe on Jesus Christ will be saved. There is no other way out.

The dramatic action of God in Noah’s day and in the yet future Tribulation prove that you are not an accident. You were created by God for a purpose. That purpose is to be loved by Him. To be cleansed of your sin so that you might walk with Him and be in communion with Him. The way out of death and into this incredible life has always been the same in every age: Believe God, believe His word, turn from the ruin of sin and instead embrace Him. Walk with Him now so that, one day, you will arrive at your eternal home, where righteousness dwells.

How many weeks do we have left to live before we are delivered through the storm of death onto the shores of eternity? We don’t know. But we can wait with urgency and continual faithfulness, based on God’s reliable promise, knowing He’s ready to use us, even till the last minute.

Goin’ Up to the City in the Sky (Revelation 21:9-23)

It has a distinctive name: The Nightingale of Kuala Lumpur.

It is a red burgundy one-of-a-kind gown that is worth $30 million. Malaysian designer Faiyzali Abdullah incorporated chiffon and silk, Swarovski (swaa raav skee) crystals, and 751 diamonds weighing over 1100 carats. A 70-carat teardrop diamond further adorns it.

Egyptian designer Hany El Bahairy created the world’s most expensive wedding gown, $15 million. Several hundred diamonds and precious stones cover the dress. Ivory tulle and silk organza are the fabrics from which it is sewn. The diamonds and stones form intricate patterns from head to toe, glittering over the bride.

You’re probably more frugal. brides.com can help. They have a list of dresses under $100.00 that they say “will make you feel like a million bucks.”

The world has yet to see the most beautiful bride in the most breathtaking setting.

We get a glimpse of her in our verses: “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal” (21:9-11).

It reads as if this were the moment in an earthly wedding when the bride appears and those gathered see her for the first time.

In case you don’t know, the church is the bride.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 You Glorified Will Highlight New Jerusalem, and #2 Jesus’ Glory Lights New Jerusalem.

#1 – You Glorified Will Highlight New Jerusalem (v9-21)

Fancy villas, high-rise apartments, lakes, parks, and sprawling road networks. These cities in China have it all. Just one element is missing: People. About fifty such ‘Ghost Cities’ lay desolate across the country.

New Jerusalem would be no more than a Ghost City without its inhabitants. Believers in their resurrection bodies are the highlight of the city. Its true beauty is us made beautiful by Jesus.

Rev 21:9  Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”

It is not uncommon for a person to retire then enjoy a second or third career.
The seven angels who poured out the seven last plagues had a short ‘bowling’ career. One of them retired to become a tour guide.

Pray about how you might serve the Lord in your retirement.

“Lamb” is the preferred description of Jesus in the Revelation. He is “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” by His sacrifice on the Cross. He is the only one worthy of taking the scroll from His Father and bring the current dispensation to its end.

What Jesus called “My church” (Matthew 16:18) was a mystery until He and the New Testament apostles revealed it. The church was born on the Day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection when Jesus sent God the Holy Spirit to empower and give boldness to believers to preach the Gospel until He comes to resurrect the dead in Christ and rapture living saints.

One of many illustrations describing the church is that we are the bride of Jesus. The angel invited John to take a look at the church, “the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”

This is important: John saw the church collectively. He saw us all together, all at once. The city adorns the collective bride.

Just as a bride is adorned with her gown and jewelry, so is the
church adorned by New Jerusalem.

Rev 21:10  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God,

Jesus promised He would occupy Himself building mansions in Heaven for us. When the heavens and Earth are remade New Jerusalem will be moved from its construction site in Heaven to the atmosphere above Earth.

Rev 21:11  having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

There is something beautiful about an aerial view of a great city lit up at night. All the Earth’s cities combined are barely a match compared to New Jerusalem. It shines “having the glory of God.”

I gotta home in gloryland
That outshines the sun
Way beyond the blue

Rev 21:12  Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
Rev 21:13  three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

The ministry of angels changes dramatically throughout the dispensations of human history. They are everywhere during the Great Tribulation performing incredible deeds. Afterward they stand honor guard in New Jerusalem. There is no reason, no need, to guard. It is a ceremonial posting.

God gifts each of His believers. It doesn’t mean our gifts are ours to exercise when, where, and how we will. You will have postings that test your obedience.

Regardless your gifts, you are first a servant:

A servant does whatever they are asked.
A servant sees a need and meets the need.

The gates have the names of the “twelve tribes of Israel.” In verse fourteen, we will read, “the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” The apostles, along with prophets, laid the foundation for the church.

Israel and the church are two distinct entities in God’s plan.

Israel and the church are not one and the same. Roman Catholics and most Reformed Christians, and others, are confused. They teach that the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan. Not true, proven here.

You cannot understand prophecy, and you will be led into misinterpretation unless you keep Israel and the church separate in God’s plan.

The apostle Paul wrote, “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew” (Romans 11:1-2).

Commentators and critics make a hullabaloo about the “twelve tribes.” The original twelve were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin.

I said ‘original’ because Joseph had two sons while serving as Prime Minister of Egypt. Jacob rewarded Joseph with a double portion of land by adopting Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, like his own (Genesis 48:5). This adoption technically split the tribe of Joseph in two, making thirteen tribes. The various lists of the twelve tribes in the Bible don’t always match.

Bottom line: We are never told why these lists differ. It is need to know, and we don’t need to know.

Rev 21:14  Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

More commentator-confusion surrounds the twelve apostles. Jesus chose Judas Iscariot to be one of the twelve. After his betrayal and suicide, the eleven drew lots to pick Matthias as his replacement.

Some commentators think they were premature because it seems evident that God meant for Paul to be the twelfth apostle.

After Matthias is chosen, the group of apostles is called “the twelve.” God the Holy Spirit considered Matthias the bonafide twelfth apostle or He would not have inspired the writer of Acts, Luke, to use the title.

Peter and Andrew; James and John; Philip; Bartholomew; Matthew; Thomas; James, the son of Alphaeus; Jude, aka Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot; and Matthias.

Is it possible that the great apostle Paul will not have his name commemorated in the city? Yes. Let it be a lesson to us. Paul said of himself, “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (First Corinthians 15:9). Our rush to honor him for his work reveals a wrong tendency to desire recognition and position. It is a sign we are looking at outward things, whereas the Lord looks at the heart

Rev 21:15  And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.
Rev 21:16  The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.
Rev 21:17  Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.

The angel’s third career is as a surveyor. Although an angel, he uses the “measure” of humans. It solves a great debate. We won’t be using either the metric system or imperial measurements. Cubits and furlongs are in your future. Better read up on it.

The New Jerusalem’s length, height, and width are equal. It is either a cube or a pyramid. A cube is more reminiscent of the Tabernacle and Temple.

Let’s do some math together. New Jerusalem measures about 1400 miles in every direction. One human being takes up minimum space of about 2’ by 2’ by 6’, or 24 cubic feet per person.

Mathematicians calculate that six billion people can ‘fit’ in one cubic mile.
If the city had twenty billion residents, each person would have a cube of space that is seventy-five acres in every direction.

A few more calculations:

New Jerusalem is a multi-story city. In The Return of the King, the city of Gondor is an excellent example of a multi-story city. If each ‘story’ in New Jerusalem were 10’ high, it would have 792,000 floors.
Suppose the mansions on each floor were 250,000 sq.ft. There could be more than one quarter million mansions per floor.
At a vantage point 5000 miles away, New Jerusalem would appear more than 130 times larger than the moon.
The ground coverage would equal the combined areas of all but nine of the states in the United States. Some scholars suggest the city sits on Earth, not hovering in the heavens. It’s pretty obviously too big to be on Earth.

It’s big and will be no Ghost City. A lot of people have gotten saved, and many more will get saved before the city makes its dramatic descent.

The first high-rise building in the Bible was the Tower of Babel. Nimrod & Co. started construction on a brick and slime structure to reach the heavens. He wasn’t building a stairway to Heaven. The finished would be a place to observe and worship things in the heavens.

Archaeologists call these ancient towers ziggurats. They good-guess that the tallest of them was just under 200’.

The tallest building in the world is Khalifa Tower in Dubai. It is just over half a mile tall at 2,722’. It has about 163 stories.

It wouldn’t be a lawn ornament in New Jerusalem.

Rev 21:18  The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.

Striking, vibrant colors will be produced as light passes through and reflects off gems and precious metals.

“Pure gold” is said to be “like clear glass.” In verse twenty-one we will read that “the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”

Rev 21:19  The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald,
Rev 21:20  the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.

I don’t see any reason to get bogged down explaining all these individually. It’s going to be purdy.

Rev 21:21  The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

Oysters that big scare me… But I suppose they’ll be friendly. This description is probably where we get the idea that Peter will meet us at the “pearly gates.” It won’t be Peter; it will be Jesus.

Notice it says, “the street,” singular. No cul-de-sacs, only one winding ribbon of road climbing up 792,000 stories. Once again, think Gondor.

The building materials are precious gems and minerals. What do we do with precious stones and gold today? Or, better yet, what do wives want their husbands to do with them?

They are in the jewelry that we give to the one we love.

New Jerusalem is precious gems in a pure gold setting. The city is an immense jewel that will surround the bride.

Extravagance is a trait of romantic love. You want to be able to give your loved one something amazing. It’s not because you are materialistic, but because you are romantic.

When given to the one you love, things of great value show you care more about him or her than the things in all the world. If you could, you’d give your loved one the world – because the one you love has more value to you than everything valuable in the world.

Charles Spurgeon said, “Let me revel in this one thought: before God made the heavens and the earth, He set His love upon me.”

You, glorified, will be the highlight of the city.

#2 – Jesus’ Glory Will Light New Jerusalem (v22-23)

We’ve encountered several 12’s. There are a lot more 12’s in the Bible, 187 of them to be exact. In most of those instances, the number 12 conveys God’s perfect government:

The 12 Patriarchs of the 12 tribes were the leaders governing Israel.

The 12 apostles had the authority to lay the church’s foundation, govern it, and establish its future governing leaders.

The 12’s of New Jerusalem tell us that it will be more than big and beautiful. It will be perfectly governed.

Rev 21:22  But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

The sense I get of John’s statement, “I saw no Temple in it,” is that he was looking for one. The Temple at Jerusalem had been a constant in his life. For many years he had visited it at least twice annually as was required of every male Jew.

The lack of a Temple in New Jerusalem would have been a stunning realization for John. Stunning in a good way because he was immediately inspired to understand that “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its Temple.”

God met with Adam and Eve face-to-face. Adam and Eve’s sin broke their face time with God. The penalty for sin, for them and their offspring, was and is death.

The sacrificial death of an animal as a substitute could temporarily restore fellowship. The Law of Moses eventually codified a system of substitutionary sacrifice. God put His glorious presence in the Tabernacle and, later, the Temple. He met with His people through a mediator after the shedding of blood.

The New Testament Book of Hebrews proves that Jesus was better than the Temple system of sacrifice in every way. He is our mediator, and since we are in Him, we have immediate access to come boldly to God the Father.

Please do not get involved with rites, rules, and rituals that distance you from the intimacy made possible by Jesus shedding his blood.

Rev 21:23  The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.

Who doesn’t enjoy a good sunrise or sunset? Better get that out of your system.

The city will be constructed so that the light of Jesus Christ will reflect throughout it. It will be like no light we’ve ever experienced before. No one will miss darkness.

I was watching an old Pawn Stars episode. They discussed how they were fooled when cubic zirconia first hit the streets in the late 1970s.

John knew his gems. He knew as well that the Lord would never build with sub-standard, faux materials. He mentioned “pure gold” when, in fact, on Earth gold cannot be 100% pure.

Neither ought we to build with “wood, hay, stubble,” but with “gold, silver, precious stones” (First Corinthians 5).

How?? Do everything as unto the Lord, in His empowering, and you are building with the best materials.

You earn rewards from the Lord while building. John earlier likened your rewards to adornments you add to your white robes of righteousness. He wrote, “And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (19:8).

Be beautiful. Walk with Jesus and receive His rewards for stuff He asks you to do, then enables you to perform.

Gals, you will never wear The Nightingale of Kuala Lumpur.

Guys, you’ll never build anything like the Khalifa Tower.

Compared to New Jerusalem, building for Jesus far exceeds anything mankind could ever accomplish.

It isn’t the city that looks mahvelous. It is the church within it that the city adorns.

One final thought, this from A.W. Tozer:

“An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.”

Prophecy Update #671 – You Had A Friend In Me

We reserve a few minutes to discuss current trends that you’d expect from reading Bible prophecy.

We are futurists. We interpret all unfulfilled prophetic passages as future events that will occur in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.

Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence, cashless commerce, the manipulation of human DNA, global government, the exponential growth of human knowledge, and the rebirth of national Israel are End Times phenomena the Bible predicts. All of these are increasingly trending in the news.

A story that didn’t receive much attention may be the most important thing that happened this week, at least from the perspective of Bible prophecy. It was titled, Biden Tells Israeli Government He’s Reversing Trump’s Jerusalem Move Despite Its Strong Objections.

Excerpts:

President Joe Biden is expected to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem, in a reversal of a decision by former President Donald Trump. When the Trump administration moved the US Embassy in 2019 from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem, the consulate was merged with the new embassy. The Biden administration has its eyes set on overturning the decision made by the Trump administration, despite Israeli objections.

https://www.westernjournal.com/biden-tells-israeli-government-reversing-trumps-jerusalem-move-despite-strong-objections/

USA Today reported, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday the Biden administration would reopen its consulate in Jerusalem, which had served as a de facto embassy for the Palestinians until former President Donald Trump shuttered it in 2019.   

“That’s an important way for our country to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people,” Blinken told reporters after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/05/25/jerusalems-us-consulate-reopen-reversing-trump-era-closure/7426894002/

The rebirth of national Israel was a direct fulfillment of many Bible prophecies.

The prophets also foretold that the city of Jerusalem would cause international problems. For instance, Zechariah predicted “And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (12:3). Zechariah was looking all the way forward to Armageddon. Nevertheless he prophesied that Jerusalem would exist in the Last Days and be a source of international strife.

There is an important passage in the Bible where God promises to bless those who support Israel and to curse those who do not. In Genesis we read, “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (12:3).

Christians are called to show love to the people of Israel and to pray for them: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you” (Psalm 122:6).

Israel is the apple of God’s eye (Zechariah 2:8). Lack of support for her national sovereignty, and especially her rights to Jerusalem, don’t bode well for us.

We believe the resurrection and rapture of the church is imminent. It could happen at any moment; nothing needs to happen before it. It will happen before the Great Tribulation.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

Very Important Persons (Genesis 6:13-22)

Is your job important? As human beings we have an innate desire for significance and we can find it many places.You’ve probably heard of TED talks. “TED began in 1984 as a Technology, Entertainment and Design conference. Today you can watch more than 3,700 talks their website, many of which discuss the “importance” of particular topics like, “the importance of listening,” “the importance of preserving cultural artifacts.” Of “emotional tone in a digital age.” Of “good conversation” and “self-care.” Of “visual literacy” and “diversity in the comic book universe.” Of educating girls” and of “space lawyers.” Those are all real topics or playlists on ted.com.

Noah had the most important human job ever. There was only one job that was more significant: That was the Messiah’s job to come and bridge the gap between heaven and earth – a job no mere human could do. But Noah was humanity’s only hope for survival. One man, from whom all of us descend. The one man who carried the torch which would ultimately bring the Deliverer to us.

There was a time there when, in my dad’s family, I was the last Pensiero male who could carry on our family’s name. Of course, there are other Pensieros out there somewhere. Hopefully that won’t keep you up at night. But if Noah dies – if his family dies – that’s the end of humanity.

But his life and its work aren’t only important because of what he preserved. It also gives to us two very important illustrations. It gives a picture and a precedent. On the one hand, it is a picture of God’s unrelenting work of saving the lost. On the other hand, it is a precedent for how we can also respond to the call of God and invest our lives in His important work ourselves. It all begins with God’s spoken word.

Genesis 6:13 – 13 Then God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to every creature, for the earth is filled with wickedness because of them; therefore I am going to destroy them along with the earth.

We don’t know how God revealed Himself, but however He did, He did so directly. God speaks directly. He speaks of Who He is and what He’s done and what He’s going to do. Sometimes we wish we had a face-to-face chat with the Lord like Abraham did or Paul or Solomon, but the truth is we have a much greater volume of information than they did. We have the completed, inerrant, conspicuous Word of God. In that Word, God loves to reveal His heart and His plans to us. We don’t know every detail of every act of providence, but God likes to let us in on what He’s doing. In Genesis 18 the Lord will say, “Shall I hide what I’m about to do from Abraham?” And the same characteristic is seen here. God wanted Noah to understand what He was going to be doing. He explained the what and the why. His Word is given to you so that you can know Him. Psalms and Jeremiah show us that God wants us to know Him. God wants us to know His voice and know His works and know His will.

We’ve seen that His will for mankind was to fill the world with goodness – His goodness. Instead, the world was filled with wickedness and rebellion. In response, a global flood was coming.

There are those who would rather think of the flood as a local flood. Their reasons usually come down to ideas about the volume of water on the earth today and the prevailing assumptions about the age of the earth based off of the theory of evolution. However, both the Old and New Testaments plainly indicate a global flood. If it was local, there would be no need for Noah to build a boat. He’d simply need to take a road trip. Additionally, the fossil record serves as an expert witness to the historicity of a sudden, global flood. Like how we’ve found marine fossils on top of Mount Everest, and air-breathing dinosaur fossils found in ocean deposits. Other fossils are found vertically preserved across multiple strata layers, and we see the existence of fossilized, soft-tissue organisms like octopi. Not to mention the fact that flood narratives can be found in the traditions of various cultures on every continent – not just in the mid-east, but extending around the globe. For example, the Powhatan tribe of Virginia “have a tradition of the [flood], that all the world was once drowned, except a few that were saved…about seven or eight in a great [canoe].” The flood was global, sudden, and verifiable.

Interestingly, when God revealed this coming judgment, Noah did not try to intercede on humanity’s behalf. Abraham will, famously, try to save the city of Sodom from its judgment. Moses interceded on behalf of the children of Israel, that God would not wipe them off the earth. Not so with Noah. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t going to be a part of God’s merciful salvation. In fact, after revealing the coming wrath, God gives Noah an urgent commission.

Genesis 6:14 – 14 “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitch inside and outside.

We don’t know what gopher wood was, some believe it was cypress, but here’s what’s more precious to know: When God told Noah to cover it with “pitch” the word used there is the same word the Old Testament uses for “atonement.” The covering of sin. One Bible dictionary defines it as: “the price of a life…the ransom.” In order to save us, our sin must be covered. We must be atoned for, that our lives might be ransomed.

1 John 2:2 – [Jesus Christ]… is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.

The ark becomes a picture for us of several things but, first and foremost, it is an illustration of salvation in Jesus Christ. He is the lifeboat, Who saves us from the unsurvivable judgment. He made the way secure by sealing our salvation with His own blood.

Noah was to make ‘rooms in the ark.’ There’s a tender image here – the word God uses for rooms is actually ‘nests.’ If you’ve seen WALL•E you might recall that all of humanity has been saved off of planet earth in a giant, ark-like space ship. At the end, as they return to earth, there’s a scene where they’re all standing on this wide deck and the ship jumps to light speed and all the people just sorta fall over and crash around. That wouldn’t be the experience of the animals on the ark. There was an appropriate and cozy place prepared for each of them.

This is what God has done for you and me. Of course, we think of that promise Jesus made that He was going to heaven to prepare a place for us, but we also consider how He prepares a nest for us on this side of eternity as well. God has scattered us where we are so that we might be knit together with other members of the local flock we find ourselves near. The Lord’s work is to give us a home that is safe and firm, built on the Rock, and able to withstand the storms of this world.

Genesis 6:15 – 15 This is how you are to make it: The ark will be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.

Some of you have been to the Ark Encounter in Kentucky, so you’ve got a great mental picture of the proportions of this great barge. For those of us who haven’t, it might be hard to imagine the size we’re talking about. Particularly if your translation uses cubits instead of feet. The cubit was the length from your elbow to the tip of your middle finger. Naturally, that varies from person to person. In the ancient world, there were all sorts of cubits – some as short as 17 inches, some as long as 25. We use the 18 inch cubit in our thinking because it’s a good, conservative estimate and aligns with what we know about how the Jews, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Egyptians measured the cubit.

The ark had over 100,000 square feet of deck space and 1.4 million cubic feet of storage space. That’s the same square footage that engineers use as a rule of thumb for a city block, by the way. The ceiling of each deck would be at about 15 feet. Noah would’ve been able to bring 125,000 sheep-sized animals onto the ark. Of course, many were larger, but many were smaller. Plus, some scholars speculate that the animals would’ve been juveniles, which would’ve helped both in size and reproductive longevity after the flood.

This stage is about 12 feet by 16 feet. Noah could build a storage box the length and width of this stage, built up just 4 and a half feet, and that would be large enough to store 2 years worth of water for him and his family. Of course, the animals would need water too, but we can start to get the picture of just how much space this ark would provide.

So, how many animals did Noah bring on the ark? There’s no way for us to know. But, keep in mind that he wouldn’t have to bring each species of dog, dinosaur, bird, but only representative kinds from which other species would once again spring. Even still, if we look at the world today, it’s estimated that there are fewer than 34,000 different species of land-dependent animals. Creation scientists suggest they could’ve taken fewer than 7,000 animals, but even if they took 80,000, you would still have a ton of deck space left over.

Genesis 6:16 – 16 You are to make a roof, finishing the sides of the ark to within eighteen inches of the roof. You are to put a door in the side of the ark. Make it with lower, middle, and upper decks.

One door. Remember, the ark was a working object lesson of salvation. Jesus made it very clear that there is one way and only one way to be saved, and that is through Him. He said “I am the Door.” We are the sheep, His beloved lambs, that are called to enter through this Door and if anyone enters by Him, they will be saved but if not, there is no hope.

Genesis 6:17 – 17 “Understand that I am bringing a flood—floodwaters on the earth to destroy every creature under heaven with the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.

God was asking Noah to do something very unusual. Remember: It had never rained on the earth. It had certainly never flooded. God had interacted with humans from time to time, but there had never been this sort of involvement. And now, the Lord asked Noah to spend his life on this project. It must’ve seemed so absurd to the people around him. But notice that God did not ask for blind faith. He didn’t ask Noah to do something silly just for the sake of standing out. He said, “Understand what I’m doing.” It would still have to be done by faith, trusting that what had never been seen was really going to happen, but what may have seemed foolish to the unbelieving world wasn’t rooted in foolhardiness. It was rooted in God’s truth. This is the same situation you and I find ourselves in. Peter says in his second epistle:

2 Peter 3:3-7 – 3 Scoffers will come in the last days scoffing and following their own evil desires, 4 saying, “Where is his ‘coming’ that he promised? Ever since our ancestors fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.” 5 They deliberately overlook this: By the word of God the heavens came into being long ago and the earth was brought about from water and through water. 6 Through these the world of that time perished when it was flooded. 7 By the same word, the present heavens and earth are stored up for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Our belief and activity are based on the Word of God. The Scripture is the bedrock, the blueprint, and the compass of our faith. It has been prepared, preserved, and passed on to you so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.

Now, sometimes obedience does come before understanding. Abraham had to obey God concerning Isaac before he understood. But God is very up front with us about His plans, His overall will, His commands, and His desires.

Genesis 6:18 – 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives.

This is the first use of the term ‘covenant’ in the Bible. Biblically speaking, a covenant is a treaty – an alliance of friendship. There is “no firmer guarantee of legal security, peace, or personal loyalty.” But a covenant is no good unless the other party is trustworthy. Moses was delivering this book originally to the people of Israel, with whom God wanted to make a covenant, full of terms and promises. Could He be trusted? Well, here Moses brings out the record of God’s covenant with Noah. He will do so again with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yes, this God could absolutely be trusted. He was true and His predictions were true and His power was true. He was proven!

What are the terms set by God for salvation from judgment? Come in! That’s it. Jesus said, “Come unto Me and I will give you rest.” Anyone who hears, anyone who’s thirsty, anyone who desires the water of life must simply come and receive it without price because the bill has already been paid.

Genesis 6:19-21 – 19 You are also to bring into the ark two of all the living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of everything—from the birds according to their kinds, from the livestock according to their kinds, and from the animals that crawl on the ground according to their kinds—will come to you so that you can keep them alive. 21 Take with you every kind of food that is eaten; gather it as food for you and for them.”

Some scholars suggest that the Lord would’ve put all the animals into hibernation. Maybe. There’s not really any indication of that. But here we see that Noah had an awesome responsibility to protect life. The life of his family. The lives of these creatures. They mattered to God. To do what God was asking him would require a lot of effort, expense, thoughtfulness, and application.

But did you notice the key thing there? In verse 19 we read, “You are…to bring” but in verse 20 we read, “[the animals] will come to you.” You see, God’s work is a partnership – one where He does the heavy lifting. He provides all we need to accomplish what seems impossible. He empowers and supplies and accomplishes and we cooperate with His work, not the other way around. We call it “Noah’s ark,” but as we see here, it’s all God’s show. As His people, we are simply stage hands serving Him, to bring Him honor, to further His purpose, to join in the impossible. Noah did.

Genesis 6:22 – 22 And Noah did this. He did everything that God had commanded him.

Thank God that He did, because our lives depended on it. We talked last time about how Noah was a preacher. Peter says that about him. It was important that he preached, but let’s not miss the fact that he practiced what he preached. He lived his life in belief that what God said was going to happen was actually going to happen. And so, when the rain came down, the ark floated up.

This ark tells us so much about how God works. Remember, it is an illustration to us of His effort to intervene and save the doomed sinners of earth. Through this story we see that God’s work is long-suffering and patient. He waited so long before judgment finally fell. We see that God’s work is always rooted in His grace. We see that what He does is sufficient for anyone who will believe Him. There’s plenty of room. And we see that He is generous. Generous to involve us in His good work, generous to supply what we need, generous to give us the strength and the understanding to do what He asks us to do. But we also see that God’s work is exclusive. No other way. No other boat.

But what about how this story speaks to us about our own lives? Some scholars estimate that Noah was building the ark for 120 years, maybe 100. The folks at Answers In Genesis put it somewhere between 55-75 years. From where we sit, that’s a lifetime of work. If you’ve never read Robinson Crusoe, I highly recommend it. It’s surprisingly Christ-centric. But in one section the book talks about just how difficult it was for Robinson to fell a single tree and start breaking it down to fashion tools and boards from it. The time and the effort. Now imagine Noah and this undertaking.

We imagine the incredible scope and can’t help but think, “Well, yeah. That’s Noah. He’s a special servant of God.” So are you! Hebrews declares that we are links in the same chain of cooperation that Noah was a part of. What’s even more amazing is that the Bible shows that it’s not the scale of what you do that matters. You can make an eternal difference by handing someone a cup of water, by writing a letter, by praying for someone, even the countenance of your face.

So, remove the scale for a moment and see Noah’s faithful cooperation with God as a precedent set for you and I, who continue in his footsteps. What do we see? We see a man being obedient to the Word of God and carrying out his personal calling. We see that our work for God is especially concerned with the family, not at the expense of everyone else, but it is a primary responsibility. We see that though God does the heavy lifting and pours out His grace, it’s going to cost us something to participate in the important work of God and it is meant to be a lifelong cooperation with Him. And we see that, when all is said and done, we are meant to be purveyors of salvation. The goal of Christian work is people getting saved. That was the point of building the ark. Not so Noah could say he was the first to do something or that he built the biggest whatever. The point wasn’t for him to make a name for himself, but to save people.

Each aspect of the project was very important. In this work of God, you might be the person keeping the pitch warm or passing the boards along or you may be herding some cats into their nest. You may be answering questions about what God has said to some unbeliever passing by. You might be instructing your kids in the ways of the Lord. What’s important, what makes your work important, is how you follow Noah’s example and carry out your calling according to God’s Word and His purpose, being ready to receive whatever He brings to you, remembering that a judgment is coming, but salvation is available to anyone who will believe. Find your importance by drawing near to God, and continuing in your trust in Him, continuing in His revealed truth, and continuing in the tradition of Noah.

Surfless City, Here We Come (Revelation 21:1-8)

“Have you ever seen it, Aragorn? The White Tower of Ecthelion, glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver, its banners caught high in the morning breeze. Have you ever been called home by the clear ringing of silver trumpets?”

The city of Gondor was in Boromir’s heart as he was dying from many orc arrows. He wished for its glory to be renewed with the return of the rightful king.

We look forward to the city whose builder and maker is God and to the forever rule of the rightful King of kings.

The “holy city,” New Jerusalem, will come “down out of Heaven from God.” It will be a permanent, prominent feature in eternity.

Before an angel reveals to John what and who is in New Jerusalem, he tells the wide-eyed apostle what and who is not.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 You Will Never Sorrow In The Golden City, and #2 You Will Never Sin In The Golden City.

#1 – You Will Never Sorrow In The Golden City (v1-7)

If you could live anywhere on Earth, where would it be? You can’t say Riverdale; that’s too obvious.

The place you’ve chosen isn’t free from tears, death, sorrow, crying, and pain.

On the other hand, New Jerusalem will be absent from all those and every other experience that is a result of sin wreaking havoc on God’s creation.

Where the Savior is there can be no sorrow.

Rev 21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

Heaven with a capital “H” is God’s domain. The heavens above us – the earth’s atmosphere and what we call space – will pass away.

The apostle Peter was inspired to write a description of the “first heaven and the first earth” passing away:

But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men… the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up… all these things will be dissolved…(Second Peter 3:7, 10&11).

Newsweek posted an article titled, Who Will Control the 21st Century? Whoever Controls Space. Go, Space Force.

Who controls space? One of Satan’s titles is “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). The atmospheric heavens and space are where he operates.

J.R.R. Tolkien might have described the devil’s presence in the heavens as “fell.” It is a favorite word of his, an old use of the word, meaning fierce, ferocious, deadly, savage.

Our prayers rise as incense through the devil’s war room. He must be incensed!

Now for the really big question of the day. Why is there “no more sea?”

We are genuinely troubled by the disclosure that there are not going to be any oceans. Especially those who believe surfing is next to godliness. Maybe you can be like the Silver Surfer, tooling around the universe on your longboard.

Nowhere are we told why there is “no more sea.”

Anything we say would be a guess we can’t substantiate. We can suggest why its absence troubles us.

Some instinct in us causes us to refer to beachfront property, or tropical islands, as Paradise.

Not even close. Jesus told the believing thief crucified with Him, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Geographically speaking, the thief would be in Hades, in the comfort section called Abraham’s Bosom. It is where the souls of the righteous waited for the coming of the Lord to lead them to Heaven. Jesus would descend there after His death to lead all the righteous to Heaven.

I think it is OK biblically to say that Paradise is being with Jesus. Paradise has never been a place; it is a Person. Luther said, “I would not give one moment of Heaven for all the joy and riches of the world, even if it lasted for thousands and thousands of years.”

Rev 21:2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

New Jerusalem is, quite literally, the crowning jewel of the new creation. In subsequent verses, we’ll see that it is made chiefly of gems and precious stones. Gold paves its streets, hence, The Golden City.

It will come “down out of Heaven from God.” It could not be built on-site because of the devil’s temporary hold on the heavens. It has been under construction in Heaven and will be moved into position when the prince has become the pauper.

The New Jerusalem is being “prepared” in Heaven “as a bride adorned for her husband.” The Contemporary English Version of the Bible reads, “It was like a bride dressed in her wedding gown.”

The New Testament uses marriage as an illustration of our intimacy with Jesus. He is the Bridegroom, and we are His bride. A bride desires to look her best. Hair, make-up, jewelry, maybe a veil, and a bouquet adorn her. Her gown is her primary adornment.

Just as her gown and other preparations adorn a bride, so is the bride of Jesus adorned by New Jerusalem. Looking at the bejeweled city, you see the bride “having made herself ready” (19:7).

Before we get lost in the beauty of New Jerusalem in subsequent verses the Lord establishes that it is merely a showcase for His bride.

The Lord is excited to put us on display. It gives Him pleasure to draw attention to His finished work in us. I dare say that the church is a trophy bride.

Jesus saved us. He committed Himself to setting us apart, to performing a good work in us every moment of every day. He is described as washing us by the water of the Word of God. We will be presented without spot or blemish to our heavenly Father.

I can only imagine how beautiful each of you will be in eternity, let alone myself.

Rev 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from Heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

The “tabernacle” was the tent in the wilderness where God was present among the Israelites.

It consisted of two chambers, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, separated by a thick veil. It was 45’x15’, or 675sq.ft. People who get deeper into the dimensions suggest that New Jerusalem may be a pyramid shape. The earthly tabernacle, however, was a cube. It doesn’t matter; it’s simply interesting.

God will “dwell” with mankind. After Adam and Eve sinned, everything in the Bible is God providentially forwarding His plan for redeeming the human race to restore the fellowship our parents forfeited for a fig.

Charles Spurgeon wrote,

I do not think the glory of Eden lay in its grassy walks, or in the boughs bending with luscious fruit-but its glory lay in this, that the ‘Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of the day.’ Here was Adam’s highest privilege, that he had companionship with the Most High.

We talk about serving God… Fearing God… Obeying God… Submitting to God… Praying to God… Giving to God. Those should all be done in the context of enjoying God.

You say, “It’s hard to enjoy in my suffering, in my struggles.” Hey – that’s when you can enjoy God the most. To paraphrase the Twilight Zone movie, “Do you want to hear something really scary?”

Consider enduring suffering without God.

C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4 ESV).

The apostle Paul was told by God that his suffering would not end. He was to endure it. Paul reacted, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (Second Corinthians 12:9-10).

Fellowship with God makes all the difference.

Revelation 21:4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Planet Earth is overrun by “death,” “sorrow,” and “pain.” It produces “tears” and “crying.” Jesus will “wipe away every tear.”

Have you ever had someone wipe away your tears when you were crying? It’s a tender gesture that only someone very dear to you should attempt. It is symbolic of their desire to alleviate your sorrow.

Jesus’ death on the Cross in your stead makes Him your tear-wiper.

“Every tear” emphasizes each one – not just crying in general. Just as the hairs of your head are numbered, so your teardrops are counted. God saves them in a bottle (Psalm 56:8).

Tears, death, crying, sorrow, and pain epitomize the human experience. We live our lives. One day we’re not feeling so well. We get the news: Your condition is chronic, maybe terminal.

Many tears lead up to death. So much crying and sorrow follow death. “How great the the pain of searing loss.”

You have a friend in Jesus. He sent the Holy Spirit to be in you and with you, calling Him the “Comforter.” He wipes away your tears as you realize life is but a vapor. One day the blurring of your vision from tears will clear forever. You’re in Heaven.

Looking back at the Cross, I can look forward with overcoming faith to my final redemption and the forever city. There is no greater realization, no better life verse, than “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

One writer said, “God never said that the journey would be easy, but He did say that the arrival would be worthwhile.”

Revelation 21:5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

“Behold” is a magnificent command.

We can become more attuned to hear God say to us, “Behold.” He daily gives us observations and opportunities to behold. They are subtle, and we must expect them.

The apostles Peter and John daily walked by the beggar at the gate called beautiful. One day the Lord had Peter and John behold him. They “fixed” their eyes on him. The Lord had them “behold” him. God used them to heal him (Acts 3).

“All things” will be made “new.” The word is fresh, brand new. Everything about the new creation will remain fresh, always brand new to us.

Consumers love ‘new car smell.’ Alas, it doesn’t last. I should tell you that there is some evidence that new car smell may be toxic. It is produced by “offgassing of volatile organic compounds.” Sorry to ruin that for you, but hey – I care.

New Jerusalem ‘smell’ will last.

“And he said to me, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’ ” John may have been so overwhelmed that he stopped taking notes.

John’s ministry on Patmos was to record the Revelation of Jesus Christ. There was work to do.

Have I stopped taking notes? Have you?

I don’t mean writing insights in the margin of your Bible or keeping a notebook. I mean stopped using your gift or gifts.

Christians grow weary in well doing, or apathetic waiting for the coming of the Lord. We fall asleep on the job.

Awake! Arise! Stir up your gifts.

God is “faithful.” We fail; we fall. Other people let us down, and we them down. He Who began this good work in us will see it through to the end.
God is “true.” There is a use of the word “true” we have lost. It means to make level, square, balanced, or concentric. Bicycle wheels have adjustments on each spoke. A cyclist adjusts them to ‘true’ the rotation of the wheel. God is a ‘truer,’ and you are being ‘trued.’

I’m getting ahead of myself but let me say this about our mansions in the heavenly city. They each will be ‘trued’ to your personality. Everything they are made from and all the things in them will display the Lord’s knowledge of the desires of your heart.

Benny Hester sang, “Though some know me well, still nobody knows me like You, Lord.”

Revelation 21:6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

Jesus identifies Himself as the “Alpha and the Omega” four times in this book. They are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. It is a way of saying that we ought to listen, get counsel, and seek guidance from Him.

Everything needed to live a godly life is in His Word, ready to be applied by God the Holy Spirit.

Jesus promises “the water of life freely to him who thirsts.” He first made that offer in the Gospel of John. It is the offer of the Holy Spirit to those who receive Him as Savior and Lord.

“Thirst” is a longing we all identify with. The Bible tells you that God has put eternity in your heart. You have a deep longing that can only be satisfied by being filled with God the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 21:7 “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

We use the word “overcome” to describe great effort with constant failure. We think ‘Overcomer’s Anonymous,’ populated by folks desperate not to relapse, working on their steps.

Believers are Overcomers Victorious.

First John 5:4 says overcoming is having “faith” in Jesus Christ. You are an overcomer by virtue of receiving Jesus and having the indwelling Holy Spirit.

You give-up overcoming when you give-in to your flesh.

You are a son who will “inherit all things.” Only in our case we get to enjoy it all with our heavenly dad.

Our first bullet point is that in New Jerusalem, we will never again “sorrow.” Replace “sorrow” with anything hurtful, hopeless, hateful, helpless, debilitating, depressing, discouraging… You get the idea.

#2 – You Will Never Sin In The Golden City (v8)

The list of words and phrases that are considered inappropriate or offensive grows daily. Some I understand. But these? Hysterical… ghetto… mumbo jumbo… fuzzy-wuzzy… peanut gallery… gyp… paddy wagon… long time no see… man hours… ethnic restaurant… and hun.

Check out the eight terms in our next verse:

Revelation 21:8 “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Not only do the descriptors offend, but the verse finishes by saying the person is going to “fire and brimstone.”

I am not suggesting that we be insensitive. Let’s just say I grew up in an insensitive home. There are words that are highly charged with racism, sexism, ageism, and the like.

Also, just because the Bible uses a word or term, it doesn’t permit us to use it maliciously.

There is nothing insensitive or malicious about the use of words in verse eight. They might get us kicked off of media just for reading them, but they are there for at least two good reasons:

First, the terms are representative of some of the ways sin manifests itself. Eternity will be free from these sins (and from sinners). It will be glorious.
Second, a person who recognizes him or herself in these words and terms is being evangelized.

Have you ever lied? Then you are a liar. You can’t go to Heaven, not on your own. You must receive Jesus. These words convict you of sin so that you will seek the Savior.

A third reason John was instructed to write these words has to do with their meaning in the context of the Revelation.

“Cowardly,” in the context of the Revelation, refers to the people who refused to follow Jesus because they were afraid of persecution and martyrdom. Spiritual cowardice is evidence there is no indwelling Holy Spirit to supply boldness.

“Unbelieving” reminds us of the great lengths God went to save people during the Great Tribulation. Those who remain lost were willfully unbelieving.

“Abominable” reminds us of the mid-tribulation event Jesus called the abomination of desolation. The abominable are those who worshipped the Beast.

“Murderers” of the two witnesses and of faithful believers who refused the Mark of the Beast were abundant in the Great Tribulation.

We saw rampant sexual immorality, sorcery, and idolatry, especially in the discussion about Babylon in chapters seventeen and eighteen.

With that, “It is finished!” The great Romance of Redemption ends its lengthy run on the stage of the universe and Forever begins.

No sin & no sinners. Admittedly it is hard to wrap our heads around that. I mean, if Satan sinned, and Adam and Eve sinned, why won’t we?
Ask and answer this: “Can Jesus sin?” No, no, no, of course He can’t sin.

Neither will we sin anymore forever.

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (First John 3:2).

Prophecy Update #670 – The Shots Felt Around The World

We reserve a few minutes to discuss current trends that you’d expect from reading Bible prophecy.

We are futurists. We interpret all unfulfilled prophetic passages as future events that will occur in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.

Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence, cashless commerce, the manipulation of human DNA, global government, the exponential growth of human knowledge, and the rebirth of national Israel are End Times phenomena the Bible predicts. All of these are increasingly trending in the news.

Most of our recent talks have involved the global pandemic.

COVID19 is not prophetic. However, the methods and mandates that are being utilized globally to combat it are predictive of the type of the socio-economic system that will play a significant role in the future government of the antichrist.

Citizens in the future Great Tribulation will be mandated to participate in a system by which they must produce proof of compliance to be allowed to work, shop, dine, or attend entertainment. Their livelihood and lifestyle will be restricted without the proof.

The same thing could be said today as governments continue to struggle with COVID19 vaccines passports.

A vaccine passport is a digital version of a vaccine card. It is a credential that states you have received your full round of COVID19 shots. You present that credential to prove that you are vaccinated.

France passed legislation adopting vaccine passports and their use. The article I read was titled, French Face 6 Months In Jail For Entering A Bar Or Restaurant Without A COVID Pass.

Excerpts:

President Emmanuel Macron announced that those unable to prove they’re vaccinated or a negative COVID test (at their own cost) will be banned from using public transport, entering a cinema, shopping mall, bar, cafe, restaurant, and other venues starting August 1st.

People unable to present a valid health pass risk up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, according to the draft text of the law, while owners of “establishments welcoming the public” who fail to check patrons’ passes could go to jail for a year and be hit with a $45,000 fine.

The government had to withdraw a similar law back in December following numerous riots, but merely re-introduced the same legislation with even tougher punishments for dissenters.

https://www.zerohedge.com/covid-19/french-face-6-months-jail-entering-bar-or-restaurant-without-covid-pass

Commenting on France not providing free testing, one journalist noted, “Citizens abstaining from the injection will have to pay for a test each and every time they wish to go to a shopping center, restaurant, or cafe.”

Another article was titled, Canada’s Quebec province to introduce vaccine passport.

Excerpts:

“The principle behind the vaccine passport is that people who have made the effort to get their two doses should be able to live a semi-normal life,” provincial prime minister Francois Legault told a press conference.

https://www.activistpost.com/2021/08/quebec-becomes-first-canadian-province-to-introduce-vaccine-passports.html

Israel has been using vaccine passports for a while. In a recent article Israeli government officials said that COVID19 vaccine passports will expire six months after the second Pfizer dose, meaning that people will need to receive booster shots to keep their passes valid.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/mkt_morningbrief/covid-19-vaccine-passport-expires-6-months-after-2nd-dose-as-booster-shots-mandated-israeli-officials_3978587.html

Tom Tugendhat is a British Parliament member who serves as Chairman of Foreign Affairs. He said, “Vaccine passports risk a social credit system of control. If we need a vaccine to for events like a party conference or a nightclub – why not to travel by a train, or go to a university lecture or a shop? What other choices will result in denial of service?”

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau in a recent speech proclaimed what we have learned about COVID19 can be applied to Climate Change. He means that government has learned it can control your behavior with mandates and can thereby implement their environmental agenda.

In an opinion piece, a journalist said, “COVID passport mandates represent a turning point in human history. Countries around the world have gone full authoritarian with their measures on vaccine passports, lockdowns, and military interventions. By coercing, manipulating, and incentivizing individuals to show their papers everywhere they go, nations around the world are quickly becoming police states.”

We believe the resurrection and rapture of the church is imminent. It could happen at any moment; nothing needs to happen before it. It will happen before the Great Tribulation.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

The Big Unfriendly Giants (Genesis 6:1-12)

If I were to ask you to think of times in history you would like to travel back to for a visit I’m guessing we’d bump into each other at certain points – maybe at Lazarus’ tomb or the parting of the Red Sea or the Gettysburg Address. I can’t imagine many of us would choose to send ourselves back to the days of Noah – a time of violence, corruption, depravity, and danger. Maybe we’d enjoy seeing part of the building of the ark, but we’d run the risk of being killed while we watched! But consider this: We may not want to travel back to that evil time, but Jesus has assured us that the days of Noah are coming again just before His return.

Are we in those days now? What made them different than the run-of-the-mill sinfulness that has defined humanity since the fall of man? Is there any hope for Christian ministry if we know that things are going to go from bad to worse as the end of all things approaches?

Here at Calvary Hanford, we have spent focused time on the days of Noah. We have a whole series on the website. We think it is important, given the Lord’s discussion of it in His Olivet Discourse. But this topic, particularly in the first part of chapter 6, is controversial in the Christian community and some of it is hard for us to wrap our minds around. But, in difficult passages, we remind ourselves that God’s word is trustworthy and it is meant to be understood – it’s presented clearly and plainly for our benefit, so we might be made complete and equipped for the Christian life.

When we left off, the genealogy of Seth came to a sudden halt with this man Noah. Now, the story is going to zoom in on the world of Noah, showing what had become of God’s once-perfect creation.

Genesis 6:1-2 – When mankind began to multiply on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of mankind were beautiful, and they took any they chose as wives for themselves.

The immediate question is: Who are the ‘sons of God’ and the ‘daughters of men?’ There are three major perspectives you will encounter. The first is that the ‘sons of God’ were the males born to the line of Seth. The ‘daughters of men,’ then, are the females born to the line of Cain. This argument says that the good boys from Seth eventually started marrying the bad girls from Cain and their Godliness was corrupted. This perspective came about sometime around the 3rd century AD. The problems with this view are: It does not harmonize with what Peter and Jude say in reference to this period of time. It also doesn’t work linguistically. It doesn’t explain why the offspring of these unions are described the way they are in verse 4. And it doesn’t account for the fact that verse 12 says that everyone on earth was corrupt in God’s eyes – everyone except one man and his family.

The second view is that the ‘sons of God’ are meant to be understood as nobles who started marrying peasants, adding to their harems. But this still doesn’t explain the offspring issue. And, it almost gives us the impression that God was upset that humans weren’t keeping to a caste system, and that, in response, He was going to judge the innocent along with the wicked.

The third view is the strangest, but is the one that has been accepted since antiquity. More importantly, it harmonizes with what we read in both Testaments. And this view states that the ‘sons of God’ were fallen, supernatural beings who came to earth and procreated with human women, defiling the population of earth and proliferating great evil by their offspring.

Why do we think this? First, it’s the plainest reading. Second, in their letters, Jude and Peter refer to angels during Noah’s time who left their proper domain and fell into perverse, sexual sin. Also, it’s important to note that, in the Old Testament, the term ‘sons of God’ only refers to angelic beings. There’s never a time when it refers to a human being until the New Testament, when we’re told that believers are made into sons of God through a divine act of creation, which we call the new birth.

But critics recoil at the suggestion that angels could mate with humans. They argue, “Jesus said the angels don’t marry.” That’s true, they don’t marry in heaven. But nowhere does it say that angels could never perform these activities. We do see angels doing “human” things in the Old Testament. Angels eat with Abraham later in this very book.

Some scholars synthesize the Noble view with the angelic view, that fallen angels possessed human men who took all these women as wives. However it happened, what we’re seeing is fallen angels procreating with human women and producing a very specific, very evil offspring.

Genesis 6:3 – 3 And the Lord said, “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever, because they are corrupt., Their days will be 120 years.”

God doesn’t mean that He’s going to start limiting man’s lifespan to 120. Noah would live to be 950. But then, by the time you get to Psalm 90, the lifespan was 70 or 80 at best. No, God was saying that judgment must come, but, in His grace, He would still wait 120 years before sending the flood.

God assesses mankind and says, “They are corrupt” (your version may say they are ‘flesh’). They had fully turned away from any sort of spiritual communion with God and had embraced the sinful fleshiness of humanity. Thanks to Adam and Eve’s sin, this was now the natural inclination of the human heart. And it still is today. All are sinners. All have gone astray. As unbelievers, our minds are set on the things of the flesh. Our desires, our drives, our selves. The problem is, that mentality only leads to slavery and death. Paul explains in Romans that the mindset of the flesh is hostile to God and it causes us to be enslaved to sin, and it only ever ends in one place: The grave.

During the days of Noah, the people would not believe, but God still waited 120 years, sending them preachers like Noah and Enoch, offering them a way of escape because He has always been a God of compassion and mercy.

Genesis 6:4 – 4 The Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward, when the sons of God came to the daughters of mankind, who bore children to them. They were the powerful men of old, the famous men.

We can get confused in this topic because the Old Testament talks about Nephilim, or the Rephaim or the Anakim or the Zamzummim. Nephilim is the term God uses to describe these hybrid offspring – part supernatural, part human. The term means “fallen ones.” The other names (listed above) are either names used by other people or they are proper names given to specific descendants of the Nephilim. For example, the descendants of a particular Nephilim named Anak came to be known as the “Anakim.” We run into them in Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua and, perhaps, 1 and 2 Samuel. The Nephilim are shown in the Bible to be giants of great strength and ferocity.

I think for most of us, it’s easy to believe Goliath existed. We’ve seen tall people before. It’s harder to accept the idea of what we would elsewhere call ‘demigods.’ That is, after all, what we’re talking about, right? A part-man, part-supernatural being? Isn’t that mythology? The Bible is history, isn’t it? How could this kind of mythological idea be supported?

Before writing it off, let’s ask ourselves a few questions. First, it’s true, human mythology contains the idea of demigods. But where did that idea come from? This concept of divine beings cohabiting with humans to create titan offspring can be found, most famously, in Greek culture, but they’re hardly the only ones. This idea is also found in places and cultures like Egypt, Sumer, Persia, India, Mesopotamia, the Incas, the Mayans, the Assyrians, the islands of the South Seas, among the American Indians, in South America, the Zulus, Sudan, Senegal, the Philippines, the Romans, and in Norse mythology. As Bruce Waltke writes, “Instead of the Bible representing myth as history, as is commonly alleged, perhaps the ancients turned history into myth.”

Another question we might ask is: Doesn’t this make sense as a satanic strategy? What had God promised thus far in human history? That a Seed of the woman would destroy the Serpent. Then what happened? Cain was influenced by the Devil to kill his Godly brother, Abel. Of course, that didn’t stop God from providing Eve with other sons. Satan couldn’t kill them all. So, why not switch tactics? Why not completely pollute the population of the earth, thereby making it impossible for the Seed to arrive? We know he loves to plant tares among the wheat. The Devil has gone to great lengths, again and again, to stop God’s plan. He always fails, but he always tries.

Chuck Missler brings up an interesting thought. As most of you know, there are quite a few monuments around the world that cause archaeologists to scratch their heads. How did ancient societies, without machinery, set up things like Stonehenge or Easter Island? Is it possible that incredibly powerful giants had a hand in it? Sites like the Gilgal Rephaim, an ancient megalithic monument found on the Golan heights. Today, it’s called the “Wheel of Giants” and it’s a series of huge circles of tens of thousands of rocks, weighing in at more than 40,000 tons. Some of the stones weigh 5 tons on their own! The plot thickens when you discover that what we call the Golan Heights today was once known as Bashan, the place where Og, King of Bashan ruled. Og, the last of the Rephaim, a particular line of the Nephilim.

Wouldn’t it also be just like the Devil to influence human cultures to take these horrible monstrosities and turn them into heroes? To call good, evil and evil, good? Instead of acknowledging just how wrong this was, human societies started to venerate Hercules and Maui and Wonder Woman.

One very significant phrase there in verse 4: “The Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward.” It seems that, after the flood, God permitted the fallen angels to once again introduce the Nephilim into our world, but they were much more limited in their scope and they were ultimately overcome by God’s servants like Caleb, Joshua and David with his mighty men.

Genesis 6:5-7 – 5 When the Lord saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time, 6 the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and he was deeply grieved. 7 Then the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I created, off the face of the earth, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them.”

The Bible is clear that God does not change. So what are we to make of a passage like this? God is describing the pain He felt because of the sin of man. God has emotion. God can feel emotional pain. The term ‘grieved’ there is likened to the deep breathing in in response to pain. When we regret things, it’s usually because we’ve made a mistake. We regret that haircut or that thing we said. God’s regret was not because He had made some sort of mistake, but because of His love for humanity which had rejected Him. In the Garden, Adam and Eve had disobeyed, but (as we saw) they then remained in communion with God. Not so in the days of Noah. All but 8 had rejected the Lord. And now, God must respond to their sin. As one writer put it, they had “spent all the capital of God’s mercy.” It was time to pay the bill.

You and I can cause God pain. That is a shocking thing to hear. We see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem and He is the exact expression of God the Father’s nature. Ephesians 4 commands us to not grieve the Holy Spirit. Your words, your actions, the attitude of your heart, these things matter to God. And because He is love, He is able to be hurt by our rebellion and disobedience. God was personally sorrowful over the ruination of sin all over the earth and He was right to respond to it with wrath. But then verse 8 gives us this amazing sentence:

Genesis 6:8 – 8 Noah, however, found favor with the Lord.

The word favor is also translated as ‘grace’ and this is the very first use of it in the Bible. This all-important blessing from God – His unmerited favor. It’s important that we realize that Noah did not earn favor with God. Grace is always a free gift. It’s not that Noah was the one guy on the planet to keep the rules. We’re told why he laid hold of grace in the book of Hebrews:

Hebrews 11:7 – 7 By faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family. By faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

We’re told the secret three times: By faith, by faith, by faith! Noah believed, and therefore he was justified by God and made righteous by God. And here, we learn the unchanged principle that, no matter how wicked the days are, no matter how evil those around us are, if we trust God in faith, He will pour out His grace in our lives and in our families and deliver us from evil.

Verses 9 through 12 summarize what the first 8 verses said.

Genesis 6:9-12 – 9 These are the family records of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries; Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah fathered three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with wickedness. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth was, for every creature had corrupted its way on the earth.

We’re told Noah was…blameless among his contemporaries. On the one hand, we’re seeing Noah described as a man in whom God was accomplishing sanctification. Noah was a sinner, of course. He made mistakes just like we do. But God was conforming his life into the image of His Son. He was giving Noah his righteousness and as Noah walked with God, that process developed.

But that phrase can also be translated as “perfect in his generations.” Not only was he living in such a way that he did not violate God’s commands, his own genetic makeup had not been violated by the fallen ones. This is so important because the Messiah would come from Noah. Therefore, no one can come along and claim the Promised Seed had been polluted.

As we close, we have to come back to the question from the beginning. We know the days of Noah are going to make a comeback before Jesus’ return, so, are we in those days now?

Dr. Henry Morris gives a good list that summarizes the days of Noah based off of what we read in the Scripture. In that time there was a “preoccupation with physical appetites, rapid advances in technology, grossly materialistic attitudes, inordinate devotion to pleasure and comfort, no concern for God in belief or conduct, disregard for the sacredness of marriage, rejection of the inspired word of God, a population explosion, widespread violence, corruption throughout society, preoccupation with illicit sexual activity, widespread blasphemy.” Sounds an awful lot like today, doesn’t it?

Noah wasn’t the one who decided what his “days” would be like. I’m guessing he would’ve much preferred the era of David or Solomon or Christ Himself. But there he was at an apex of earth’s evil. The difference between him and us is that we have each other. Noah’s family was the only believing family at the time of the flood. What could be done when the dark is that dark?

Besieged by monstrous, inhuman adversaries at Helm’s Deep, King Theodin nearly gives in to despair and says, “So much death. What can man do against such reckless hate?” The answer was to join the king and ride out in courage. It would not be accomplished without danger or without sacrifice. But as they launched into the fray there on the hill came the White Rider with the dawn and with victory in his hand, a host of the faithful following after him.

If we are in the days of Noah, we can still fulfill the commands of our King. He tells us to “be alert.” Watch and recognize the hour in which you live. At the same time, we can conduct ourselves like Noah did. He preached, prepared, and performed. He preached the Gospel, because God would have shown mercy to anyone who believed, whether they were related to Noah or not. He prepared, not just the ark, but he prepared his family. He prepared himself to do the right thing, the Godly thing, even when it was incredibly difficult. And he performed his calling. God asked him to do a very specific task. Noah performed it faithfully and excellently, with God’s help, direction and provision. Jesus said, “Blessed is that servant whom the master finds doing his job when he comes.”

Maybe we’re not quite to the days of Noah, though it seems like we are. Even still, we don’t know when the Master will come for us. So, let’s watch, let’s preach, let’s prepare and perform our callings, knowing the King is with us and the dawn is coming.

Dungeons And Dragon (Revelation 20:1-15)

A top five of prison break movies would include The Great Escape, Papillon, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Fugitive.

The #1 prison break movie of all time: Toy Story 3.

When the lovable crew are donated to a daycare run by a tyrannical teddy bear, they devise a plan to break out and return home to their beloved Andy.

Satan is imprisoned in the Abyss for one thousand years.

He won’t escape. He will be released to lead one final failed campaign to defeat Jesus. The Lord wins, easily.

We will be part of that end days drama as judges. I’ll point us out in the text.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 You Work As A Judge Until The Thousand Years Are Over, and #2 You Watch Jesus Judge After The Thousand Years Are Over.

#1 – You Work As A Judge Until The Thousand Years Are Over (v1-6)

“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?… Do you not know that we shall judge angels?” (First Corinthians 6:2-3).

The apostle Paul revealed our future role as judges to inform the saints in Corinth that they should stop their lawsuits against one another and settle their differences within the church.

“Do you not know?” sounds rhetorical. The saints did know that they would in the future serve as judges. They were guilty of thinking more about the here-and-now and too little about the future.

Present circumstances need not shape our beliefs and behaviors.

We can respond biblically, spiritually, righteously, always desiring to bring glory to Jesus. You will sometimes be taken advantage of, be wronged. God might ask you to give up your rights for the greater good of the Gospel.

In chapter nineteen, Jesus returned to Earth and immediately defeated the world’s combined military might in the Valley of Megiddo. First on the Kingdom agenda: Deal with the Devil.

Rev 20:1  Then I saw an angel coming down from Heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

“Bottomless pit” is translated from one word in Greek, “Abyss.” Previously in the Revelation, we’ve seen the Abyss as a prison for evil supernaturals.
It is the place the Beast (aka, the antichrist) is thrown into and comes out of after his assassination.

An “angel” serves as jailor. He carries a “key” and a “chain.” They are real and represent the authority and power delegated to him by God.

Rev 20:2  He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;

Four titles describe four of his favorite strategies over the centuries:

He was called the “dragon” in chapter twelve in his efforts to devour the Savior at His birth. The dragon has a long history of trying to interfere with the Savior’s coming into the world.
He is the “serpent of old” who, in the Garden of Eden, tempted mankind to disobedience.
As the “devil,” he accuses God before men.
He is “Satan” accusing mankind before God.

“Thousand years” repeats six times in chapter twenty.

The Latin word for thousand years is a compound word, milli and annum, millennium.

We commonly refer to Jesus’ Kingdom on Earth for one thousand years the Millennium or the Millennial Kingdom.

Every other person and place in chapter twenty are real. So is the duration of the Kingdom. If someone wants to suggest it means something else, then it can mean almost anything else.

Rev 20:3  and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

The devil will ask to go down to Georgia. (That’s according to Charlie Daniels). He is locked away, chained, with God’s “seal” on him and cannot break out or be broken out.

The devil “must” be released because he has an endgame that will be exposed momentarily.

Rev 20:4  And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them…

The apostle Paul meant these “thrones” and “judgment” when he wrote to the Corinthians. You and I are going to judge angels and mankind. Don’t worry. You will be in your glorified body, incapable of sin, tapped into the pure and peaceable wisdom of God. You’ve got this.

Rev 20:4  … Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

“Beast,” “image,” and “mark” are a three-word summation of conditions from mid-Tribulation to its end. Tribulation martyrs fit these descriptive phrases.

Although “beheaded” and dead, they will “live.” “Live” means they will be resurrected from the dead to “reign” with the Lord for the thousand years.

Rev 20:5  But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

People in both the Old and New Testaments were raised from the dead but not resurrected. They were raised in their earthly body and had to die again. Resurrection is the transformation of the body into its final spiritual state

The Bible describes a first resurrection and a second resurrection.

The first resurrection is the resurrection of all those from the world’s creation until its remaking after the Millennium who believe God and are justified by grace through faith.

The second resurrection is the resurrection of all those throughout history who did not believe God for salvation. The second resurrection is called the “second death” later on in this chapter.

The first resurrection does not happen all at once but is spread out over time.

The physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus is fundamental to the faith. Don Stewart writes, “The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central truth of the Christian faith. Without it there is no such thing as the Christian faith.”

Jesus Christ’s resurrection marks the beginning of the first resurrection. He was first among many. First Corinthians 15:20 says, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

Firstfruits of a harvest indicate a greater harvest to follow. A few saints were resurrected along with the Lord. “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:52-53). Jesus first, then resurrected saints as firstfruits to declare what was to come.

Next in order in the first resurrection are the saints of the Church Age. First Thessalonians chapter four informs us that Jesus is coming in the clouds for His church and, “the dead in Christ shall rise first.”

There will be living believers when Jesus raises the dead in Christ. “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them.” Deceased believers will be resurrected, then living believers will be raptured in resurrection bodies.

Next in order in the first resurrection are the two witnesses we met in chapter eleven. “Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them” (v11).

Revelation twenty tells us that the martyrs of the Great Tribulation will be resurrected at Jesus Christ’s Second Coming at the end of the Great Tribulation.

Not mentioned here, but elsewhere, we learn that Old Testament believers also will be resurrected at the Second Coming.

There is one more group of believers we need to account for, and they are the Millennials:

Believers who survive the Great Tribulation will be the only humans allowed in the thousand year Kingdom on Earth.
Children will be born to these believers, and Earth will be repopulated. These will choose to receive or reject Jesus. There will be multitudes of believers at the end of the thousand-years. The apostle Paul has made it clear in First Corinthians chapter fifteen that eternity is inhabitable only by those with resurrected, glorified bodies that are no longer mortal and are not able to decay. We can safely presume that God will transform Millennials for eternity.

Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

Believers are “blessed” and made “holy.” You may not feel “blessed” in your life. I know I don’t always feel that way. God is working for your good, to make you “holy.”

The “second death” sounds like the title of the latest horror movie. It’s much worse than that, and we will see why in a moment.

God’s desire for His people in both Testaments was that they be a kingdom of priests. I’m sure king-ing and priest-ing will involve a lot, but it boils down to sharing Jesus with humans born in the Millennium.

I skipped a phrase in verse three.

The devil “deceive[s] the nations” of the world.

What an incredible insight. We could spend years discovering his strategies with former and current empires. Mick Jagger sang about it:

Stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed Tsar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain

I rode a tank
Held a general’s rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank

The devil is deceiving nations right now. It explains the haphazard evil, violence, selfishness, and general unreasonableness of the times in which we live.

In Proverbs, we read, “Righteousness exalts a nation” (14:34). Righteousness ultimately depends upon the Gospel being proclaimed and received. There is a lot we can do as citizens but nothing more significant than to witness.

#2 – You Watch Jesus Judge After The Thousand Years Are Over (v7-15)

Dystopia is defeating utopia hands down.

We are fascinated with dystopian visions of the future. Whether it is zombies, aliens, pandemics, or environmental disasters, we have surrendered to the idea that the End is Near and it will be dystopian.

Jesus’ coming will bring utopia.

The risen Lord, Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, the Lord God omnipotent, will be physically on Earth, ruling from Jerusalem. Nonbelievers will see us in our glorified bodies and understand it is what Jesus intends for them. Conditions will be altogether perfect.

What could go wrong?

Revelation 20:7 Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison
Revelation 20:8 and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.

Satan is released on his own recognizance with no ankle monitor. He immediately foments rebellion.

The identity of “Gog” and “Magog” is debated by scholars. The uncertainty derives from them being named 700 years prior in the prophecy of Ezekiel. 38&39. There are some similarities, e.g., each passage mentions they are part of a coalition of nations that attack God’s people.

If you get out a yellow pad and write down the details of each of those passages, however, you’ll pretty quickly determine they describe two different rebellions. One glaring difference: The uprising in Ezekiel occurs before the Millennium, probably during the Great Tribulation, while the one in the Revelation is after the Millennium.

Revelation 20:9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of Heaven and devoured them.

There is a lamentable emphasis on the sheer number of people who will openly reject Jesus to His face. How can they be so blind?

The devil is involved, but we can’t let anyone say, “The devil made me do it.”

Eve used different words in the Garden of Eden, but she meant, “The devil made me do it.”

The devil don’t make you do it .

Nonbelievers gather in staggering numbers. Jesus and us sit this one out. God the Father sends “fire” to “devour” this hoard of barbarians.

Revelation 20:10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

The devil never rules in Hell. He is not its jailor. He torments no one. He is tormented day and night for eternity.

Notice that “the Beast and the False Prophet” are there, alive after one thousand years. Eternal, conscious torment is literal.

Revelation 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.

The phrase, “the earth and the heaven fled away,” might be telling us that the judgment takes place after the current Earth and heavens are burned up and restored. “The heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (Second Peter 3:10).

There is a terrifying piece of business to attend to before eternity begins. Nonbelievers from creation to the end of the Millennium are crowding Hades awaiting their resurrection. This is that second resurrection.

Unlike the first resurrection, the second occurs all at once and is called the second death.

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

Robert Thomas writes, “The Bible makes consistent reference to a register of human actions. The greater focus of this passage [however]… is on another book, the Book of Life.”

John Walvoord explains,

[The Book of Life] originally contained the names of all for whom Christ died, i.e., the whole world, but at the judgment of the Great White Throne many blank spaces will signal the removal of many names who never believed in Christ for salvation.

Revelation 20:13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.

The “sea” and “death” refer to the physical location of the remains of deceased nonbelievers. “Hades” is the location of their souls.

God keeps a careful record of the works nonbelievers perform. In the end, He will review them. They will prove insufficient to gain access to Heaven. No amount of good works can atone for sin. The work of God is to believe in His Son, Jesus (John 6:29).

Revelation 20:14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Revelation 20:15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

A result of all nonbelievers being “cast into the lake of fire” is that there will never again be “death” or a need for “Hades.” It is in that sense they, too, are “cast into the Lake of Fire.”

Nonbelievers die twice. They die physically, and then they die spiritually – meaning they live for eternity separated from God in conscious torment.

With that, the curtain closes on the drama of redemption that plays out on Earth for several millennia. Eternity in the new heavens and on the new Earth begins, to never end.

We will see the curtain rise on eternity as the book closes.