A River, and a Promise – Revelation 22. RBT Notes, 29th February

This is it. This is home. This is life, delight, triumph, rest, endless joy. This is the Presence of God. Its name is heaven.

All the images are sketched for us to show all that heaven is: there is endless life, just as the river flows from God’s throne, and right through the city (vv.1-2). God rules, and from His Lordship comes endless life. The tree of life, from which Adam and Eve were banished, now bears superabundant fruit, bringing forgiveness to the nations (vv.2-3). That tree (the same as the word sometimes used in the New Testament for the Cross) means that the curse of the old creation is now reversed, as all the redeemed fellowship with God and the Lamb (vv.3-4). He is their light, joy and confidence (vv.4-5). Is all this too good to be true? Of course. But it is true (v.6).

John is desperate for us to trust what he reports. His vision is confirmed by an angel (v.6), and the angel commands him to let the message run, since it is such an urgent one (v.10). The nearness of God’s Kingdom – and its final consummation – demands a response, before God comes in final judgement (v.11).

If Jesus is returning, then we must face up to His promises. He promises to reward all, according to how we have lived (v.12). He promises that those who have been made clean through faith in His blood are blessed (v.14); likewise, He promises that those who have spurned His grace will be spurned (v.15). Where will we be?

A deep longing for heaven comes from the hearts of all the redeemed. We want to reply with all that we are to the Bride’s invitation (v.17). We want to be with Him, and we want to receive the gift of life from Him (v.17). Until that great day we pray, watch, believe and wait in faith. He is coming soon. He really is. Amen, come, Lord Jesus (v.20).

 

A Prayer to Pray

Lord Jesus, what do I say? Your promise is staggering. Dare I believe that Your bitter cross is my sweet source of life? Dare I believe that one day You will roar into this world to bring it to its judgment, and bring Your own to Your joy? Lord, I do believe, and I worship. Give me the grace to believe deeply, joyfully, expectantly. Amen.

 

 

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God’s New City – Revelation 21. RBT Notes, 27th February. Notes by Graham Thomson

We all love weddings.  When the Bride appears at the back, resplendent in white, and we see the look on the face of the Groom, it cheers our hearts.  We know that, for them, the waiting is finally over.  They will be together as Husband and Wife.  We can rejoice together with them.

That’s where we are in chapter 21.  The waiting is finally over.  Jesus’ Bride, His Church, enters (vv. 2, 10), resplendent, radiant, and complete (vv. 11-21).  She is born of the apostolic Gospel (v. 14), and made righteous for her divine Husband (v. 2).  The Groom will be united to His Bride in the covenant of love which He had promised His people throughout history (v. 3).  And nothing will ever tear them apart again.

This is the marriage of a new world (v. 5), a world without tears, or separation, or death (v. 4). This is a world without sin and its consequences (v. 27), a world where the people of God will enjoy the full joy of covenant relationship with their Lord, free from the evil which presses them in persecution and disdain now (vv.6-8).  The Lord will be their light and their salvation (vv.22-23), and they have nothing to fear.  To John’s hard-pressed readers this was good news indeed.

And it’s good news for us, too.  Jesus will return for us, His people.  He will be united to His Bride.  Nothing can stop Him.  Life might be tough, but John says ‘Look forward to your wedding day.  Look at your divine Husband. He is always worth the wait.’

 

A Prayer to Pray

Father God, I thank You that You have brought me into the Bride of Christ.  Thank You that I can know the hope of this wedding day.  Give me grace to keep my eyes fixed on this joy and hope in the midst of troubles.  Give me grace to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.  Amen.

 

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Forever – Revelation 20. RBT Notes, 26th February

Satan is going down. He came from the Abyss, and to there he will return, at the command and by the power of God (vv.1-2). There he will remain, as the Kingdom grows in power as the Gospel is preached, until that day of his and the world’s final reckoning (v.3).

The Kingdom grows, and the martyred saints in heaven rule with their Saviour (vv.1-6). Whatever horrors they have experienced, and whatever horrors are still to come on the earth, they are safe. And so, ultimately, are all of the saints on earth. Satan will be loosed, and he will fight against God and His own. Whatever fiery temptations the Evil One wants to drag God’s people through, he himself will be dragged down to Hell. All who have sided with him will suffer with him there (vv.9-10). Hallelujah!

Who can stand at the day of Christ’s coming? Even Creation flees in terror from His majesty (v.11). But no one can evade Him and His justice. The books will be opened. Earth and sea have no hiding-place from Him, and judgment is perfect, and comprehensive. (vv.12-13). The future is not fireproof for the unbelieving; in fact, the reverse is true. To fall unsaved into the hands of the Living God is not only terrifying, but fatal.

That Day will see the destruction of the wicked, and then the destruction of death itself. Didn’t Jesus promise His Lordship over death and judgment (1.18)? Just so, He is Lord of all who put their trust in Him, and who discover – to their utter amazement – that their names always were written in His Book of Life.

Life and Death stand before each of us. We have the choice. The message of this chapter is simple: the soul that sins shall die. So choose Life.

 

A Prayer to Pray

Dearest Lord Jesus, You are the treasure of earth and heaven, the Giver of Life and Deliverer of all who trust in You. Lord, I want to stand in Your righteousness on that great day. Please deliver me from the Evil One, and bring me into Your Presence. Amen.

 

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Jesus the Warrior  – Revelation 19.11-21. RBT Notes, 25th February

Jesus is gentle. He is. He is also uncompromising, fierce, mighty, furious at God’s enemies, and the bringer of God’s wrath. The open heaven John sees in vv.11-21 is the unveiling of Jesus, and here He is far more Lion than Lamb.

jesus-winsEvery detail of the vision contributes to this picture of Jesus in His avenging wrath. He rides a general’s war-horse, and He fights with God’s justice (v.11). He brings all of God’s authority, and is the full expression of God’s will as His Word (v.13). If His robes have been stained in the blood of His own sacrifice, they will soon be stained with the blood of His enemies (v.13). Heaven’s armies follow Him, ready to do His will (v.14). As the Gospel is proclaimed, the world not only hears of His Lordship, but encounters His Lordship, either as believers in the Gospel, or as deniers of the Gospel, and so, objects of His wrath. As John quotes Psalm 2, he knows that the world can refuse Jesus Christ, but the word can never evade His rule, or His wrath (vv.15-16).

And what a tattoo! The very ink on His thigh proclaims Jesus’ majesty (v.16). Earth must acknowledge it, and even the birds are called to recognise it, as they are invited to feast on the dead bodies of Jesus’ enemies (vv.17-18). When He rides to battle, the armies will be amassing against Him, but they will fall. All the religions, ideologies, isms and world-views and lifestyles which oppose Him will yield to Him (vv.19-21). Our call is to yield now in faith and obedience. One day, the time for that will be too late.

 

A Prayer to Pray

Lord Jesus, Word of God and Lord of all, You are the joy of all who believe. I lay my sins before You, and ask that You will trample them under Your feet. Please teach me to tremble before all that You are, and to live humbly before Your searching as well as loving gaze. Amen.

Celebrate! – Revelation 19.1-10. RBT Notes, 24th February

As Christians we love God for His holiness. Even more compelling for us than His love is the fact that His love is absolutely holy. In fact, all that He is and does is holy, perfect and spotless.

Though we often find it hard to glory in God’s perfect judgment now, our sight of God in Christ on the Last Day will leave us with no doubts. We shall see sin for what it is, a vicious desecration of God’s holiness. And we shall see judgment as the most beautiful and right assertion of God’s holiness. Then we shall really celebrate God and His ways for all that they are.

Just like the redeemed in ch.19. They roar out their praise, as all excited crowds do. They’re not praising a music performer or a sports star, but our God, Who has judged wickedness (vv.1-4). Their worship is our spur to do the same (v.5). What a reason we have to do that, as the judgment of God is the forerunner to the consummation of the love God the Bridegroom has for His Bride, the Church (vv.6-10). We are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb – and what a feast that will be! There is no blessing, in this world or in the world to come, which can ever compare to the invitation. Feasting with Jesus means eternal life. He is our love, our Husband, the Saviour who died to win us. He is calling us, and inviting us. These are the true words of God (v.9). Does Jesus have our true hearts?

 


A Prayer to Pray

Lord Jesus, Holy Lover of Your people, I can only fall at Your feet to worship You. You have given me Your righteousness, as You have given me Your heart.  Please fill mine with praise to You – teach me heart to celebrate Your grace! Amen.

 

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God’s Victory Day – Revelation 18. RBT Notes, 23rd February

And then came the crash. Just like the Old Testament prophets, John denounces the city as it collapses under God’s judgment.

Which city is this? Some through the centuries have seen this as a picture of  Satan’s Kingdom, defeated by the Kingdom of Christ. The city therefore pictures any godless regime or ideology which opposes the Gospel. Others have been sure that John is foretelling the demise of Rome, the “Babylon” of godlessness and persecution of the church. Afterall, the city is portrayed as being “great” (vv.10, 16, 19), and having commercial and other influence over many nations (vv.3, 11-15, 19). So, it’s Rome, right?

Actually, the best reading of the text and the context suggests that it’s that rather small city, Jerusalem. She has already been denounced by John. In the immediately preceding chapters, the Jerusalem of John’s day has been identified as godless, ruthless, seeking to profit from her relationship with Rome, and destined to face God’s judgment. She has already been styled as Babylon (17.5).  Small(ish) she may have been, but she enjoyed the attentions of trading nations, and enjoyed the luxuries John speaks of here.

Her covenant faithlessness brings God’s covenant curse. God faithless people were besieged and their city was sacked. “Was there ever a city like this great city?” (v.18), a city which knew so much of God’s favour, only then to be abandoned to His wrath? No wonder Jesus wept for her, and then spoke of her coming judgment (Luke 19.41-44).

 

details_of_crosses_cut_in_original_building_stones-_1934-1939A Prayer to Pray

Lord, why do people try to push the fact of Your judgement to one side? And why am I so casual about the truth of Your wrath? Show me the cross again, that I might be shocked at the lengths You went to for my salvation, as my sin and Your wrath were heaped upon Your Son. Then teach me to walk humbly with You, my God. Amen.