Revelation: Apocalyptic or Prophetic?

Apocalyptic Traits:

  1. Dualism – yes
  2. beast vs. Lamb
  • Pessimism – nope
  • The death, resurrection, and glorification of Christ destroys pessimism.
  • Determinism – absolutely no
  • No prearranged history
  • We have free will
  • What we do matters
  • Imagery – are you kidding?
  • Numerology – tons of it
  • Recapitulation – yes, yes, at least 5 times yes!
  • Suffering – sadly, yes – for many
  • Pseudonymous – No. John writes as himself
  • He does reposition himself in an earlier time to talk about the past as if it is the future.

Prophetic Traits

  1. God as Creator – completely
  2. Creation is affected by evil and God’s judgement, but never totally destroyed
  • God as Covenant-Maker – Dang skippy!
  • God renews His covenant – Rev 21:3-4
  • “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”
  • A new Israel/people – Yes.
  • The church is the bride of the Lamb
  • An ideal King/Messiah – 100% YES!
  • The Lamb who was slain, the King of kings, the Lord of lords.
  • A rebuilt temple – nope.
  • The end of evil – definitely!
  • That is the great hope of Revelation

Taken from Answers For Chicken Little: A No-Nonsense Look at the Book of Revelation by Dan Boone

Apocalyptic vs. Prophetic Characteristics in Revelation

Eight Characteristics of Apocalyptic Writing

Dualism

A line drawn in the sand between two opposing forces. – God vs, Satan, Light vs. Darkness, the Lamb vs. the Beast

Also includes an element of time: Present evil age vs. the coming reign of God

  • Pessimism
  • Doom & gloom – all is lost – we have been forsaken and left for dead
  • Determinism
  • The idea that God has already made up His mind about how history will unfold.
    • End is known before the beginning
    • Just get in line and let everything play out
  • Imagery
  • Apocalyptic literature is loaded with imagery
  • Revelation loaded with imagery
    • Glorified Christ
    • Beasts rising from pits
    • Blood flowing from horses’ reins
    • Angels dumping bowls of fire onto the earth
  • Images have great meaning – but are not to be taken literally.
  • Numerology
  • Numbers, numbers and more numbers
  • Numbers have meaning beyond their numerical value
    • 7= wholeness, completeness
    • = incompleteness
    • 666 = the name of the beast
    • 12, 24, 144,000 = the people of God
  • Recapitulation
  • Going over the same subject repeatedly with variation
  • Revelation revisits the same theme at least five times
  • Suffering
  • Apocalyptic literature is always written when things are going bad
    • It’s a cry from the bottom of the pile
    • A speech of pain
  • Suffering of the seven churches birthed Revelation
  • Pseudonymous
  • Writer uses someone else’s name
    • Someone who lived in the past
    • Someone with a lot of credibility

Six Characteristics of Prophetic Literature

  1. God as Creator
  2. The prophets connected the God of the beginning with the God of the ending.
    1. The God we see in Revelation makes all things new.
    1. He finishes what He started.
  • God as Covenant Maker
  • Prophets knew that God works in and through His people
    • Through a lineage of failed kings, God will bring His Messiah.
  • Prophets are optimistic
    • They always have hope because salvation comes from God
  • A New Israel/People of God
  • The prophets – and John too – celebrate God’s intent to create for Himself a people who worship Him in spirit and in truth.
  • An Ideal King/Messiah
  • God would establish a ruler to lead His people
    • Righteous and holy
    • The Spirit of the Lord would rest on Him
    • He would rule in wisdom and power
  • A Rebuilt Temple
  • The prophets always looked forward to a rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.
    • Because that is all they knew.
  • Acts 7:48
  • “…the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands.”
  • Revelation 21:22 – John describes a new Jerusalem with no temple
  • The End of Evil
  • The prophets imagined a day when evil would no longer exist.
    • Evil destroyed
      • Lambs lie down with lions
      • Cows graze with bears
  • Apocalyptic writers looked for the end of history
  • Prophetic writers looked for the end of evil within history.

Finally – we can’t ignore that John wrote his revelation in the form of a letter to the seven churches.

  • He opens (1:4-7) and concludes (22:21) as he would a letter.

This is a further reminder to read it in context first.

Taken from Answers for Chicken Little: A No-Nonsense Look at the Book of Revelation by Dan Boone

I Went to a Peaceful Protest

       

Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

        I went to a peaceful protest Sunday evening. I went with my 16-year-old daughter. In my mind I was thinking it would be a rally for peace and against racism. So, we went. Upon our arrival we saw the chief of our local police department had shown up to keep the peace. We also shook hands with one of our city councilmen – not sure if he was there to support or just observe.

        I quickly realized that it was not what I had thought. There was a very small group of people at a busy intersection holding up signs with the names of black men and women who have been killed by the police in the last several years. I wanted to leave, but it was exactly what my daughter had thought it would be. I support my daughter, so I stepped to the background and stood next to the police chief and let her peacefully stand up for what she believed. She spent forty-five minutes holding a George Floyd sign. There was no trouble. Of course, there had to be one guy with an anti-police sign standing next to my daughter. So I suggested she stand down at the other end of the line.

        A few drivers voiced their disagreement, but many showed their support with their horns. It turned out to be a group of people peacefully standing up and speaking out for what they believe. It is one of the most sacred rights we have in this country. I think that is what is at the heart of the protests going on today. There is racism in this country and people are rallying against it. Unfortunately, like our one guy, there will always be opportunistic troublemakers who show up – that’s where the violence comes from.

        Later that same evening, in my position as chaplain for the local fire department, I responded to an accident involving three young people; one of them had been killed, the others had very minor injuries. I stood with the two survivors for over an hour as the scene was processed. I spoke with them about the accident, making small talk with long gaps of silence in between. I hoped to help them process their trauma, but I couldn’t help but feel effectively useless. The only difference I seemed to make was when I told them I would be praying for them.

        I think the church should be a much bigger part of the movement against racial injustice. I think we should organize our own rallies of prayer for peace. Though, like standing in silence with two trauma victims, it can seem as if we are doing almost nothing – it’s just too little, too late.

Our feelings can deceive us, and Satan encourages that deception. Prayer is the most influential action the church can take.  I’ve seen the slogan, “Silence is violence”; that doesn’t apply to prayer. It may be quiet – but it is heard by a mighty God who has the power to change the hearts of people bringing peace and revival to our nation.

        If there is going to be any lasting change in our country, it will have to start with the church, and it will have to come from joining together in prayer and fasting.

However, it cannot stop there. We must speak out against injustice. We must speak out with the voice of our Savior, Jesus. We must speak with His love and His grace.

The truest statement I have heard in the midst of this tragic time of civil unrest has come from one of my heroes, Tony Dungy. He said it better than I ever could, “We have to be willing to speak the truth in love, but we have to recognize that we are not fighting against other people. We are fighting against Satan and his kingdom of spiritual darkness.”

We must know our enemy and we must battle him with Spirit-led prayer. We cannot be yet another voice feeding the chaos. We have to stand on our knees.

James 5:16 …The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Sermon: Praying in the Spirit: Aggressive Warfare Praying

Ephesians 6:18

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 

We do not pray in the Spirit in any one way

  1. Praying with passion and speaking in a prayer language are ways of praying in the Spirit
  2. They are not the only way

Praying in the Spirit is taking advantage of the power we have at our disposal thru the Holy Spirit.

  1. It is fervent, aggressive warfare praying

Our authority over the enemy is not open to debate – it is fact.

  1. Few believers truly take full advantage of the powerful resources of praying in agreement with the Holy Spirit

Things To Remember:

  1. Praying God’s Word is a powerful tool in aggressive warfare praying
  2. Scripture memorization puts the Sword of the Spirit at your fingertips
  3. Warfare praying is also useful in praying for yourself
    • It’s not selfish, it’s sensible.
  4. Mark Brubeck: “Satan will go to almost any length to distract and divert a believer from warfare praying.”

Keys to Warfare Praying

        There are many different kinds of warfare prayers. However, in the Christian’s life, intercessory prayer – praying for another person’s salvation, healing, deliverance, welfare, etc. – is the most common. The precepts discussed here can be applied to many other warfare prayers.

Warfare Intercessory Prayer

The more specific the prayer the better. Specific words and scriptures are important in warfare praying.

Open your prayer by asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you pray.

  1. Ask if, “I may pray in the Spirit”
    • Seek the authority of the Holy Spirit

“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ – as a priest of God…”

  1. Ask for forgiveness, healing, deliverance, or protection of the person you are praying for.

(In using the title “Lord Jesus Christ” you are invoking the authority of His full name and title.)

        Plead the sufficiency of Jesus’ blood to meet the full penalty that the person’s sin deserves.

  1. Particularly important if praying for salvation or deliverance

Reclaim any ground the person has given up to the enemy through their sin.

        In the name of the Lord Jesus Christresist (James 4:7) all of Satan’s activity to hold the person in spiritual blindness, darkness, pain, illness, fear, etc.

        Claim the authority that you have through your union with Jesus Christ – through your adoption by the Heavenly Father with full rights and privileges.

  1. Pull down the strongholds of the enemy
  2. Destroy/smash/break all plans of Satan against the person
  3. Destroy any spiritual blindness or deafness, darkness, illness, pain, etc. caused by Satan

Invite the Holy Spirit upon the person for clarity and peace

  1. Ask Him to convict and bring about repentance for any sin
  2. Ask that the person be led to faith

Cover the person with the blood of Jesus Christ to break Satan’s power over them.

A major tool of Satan is to inject evil thoughts into the minds of believers and unbelievers.

  1. Thoughts of murder, perverse sexuality, hatred, and others – thoughts that are not part of the person’s normal psyche.
  2. These thoughts can cause a great deal of distress and guilt in the afflicted person – particularly when coupled with the enemy’s onslaught of accusation and condemnation.

Warfare Praying for Evil Thoughts

        In the name of the Lord Jesus Christreject the thoughts.

        Apply your union with the Lord Jesus Christ over the power of Satan who is causing these thoughts.

  1. Command him to leave your presence

Submit your mind, will and emotions only to the Holy Spirit.

Reclaim any and all ground given in your life by sin or by believing the enemy’s lies.

Close “In the name of Jesus,”

Fighting the Fight Sermon Discussion Q’s

Eph 6:10-18

Principle #1 – God calls us to “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”

        Eph. 6:10

                How does a life of holiness make us strong in the Lord?

Principle #2 – We must have a biblical understanding of what we are up against.

        Eph. 6:11

What are some of the tactics that Satan and his demons we see in the Bible?

Mark 5:1-20                1 Samuel 28:11-15

Luke 9:40-44              Mark 4:14-15

Principle #3 – We need a Bible-based understanding of the powers of demons that work for Satan.

        Eph. 6:12

                Principalities, Powers, Rulers of Darkness, Wicked Spirits   

Principle #4 – We must actively appropriate and put on the Full Armor of God.

        Eph. 6:13-18

  1. Belt of Truth
  2. Breastplate of Righteousness
  3. Shoes of Peace
  4. Shield of Faith
  5. Helmet of Salvation
  6. Sword of the Word

How do we appropriate the full armor of God?

Fighting the Fight Pt. 1 – Discussion Q’s

Fighting the Fight Pt. 1

Discussion

  1. The sermon lists two extreme responses to spiritual warfare:
    1. Ignore it and taking it too lightly
    2. A fearful preoccupation with Satan’s kingdom

Which of these extremes have you leaned toward in your walk with Jesus?

What do feel is the proper perspective?

2. Holiness and sanctification are imparted by Jesus – Heb. 13:12

        From reading Gal. 5:13-15, 22-26; Eph. 4:1-6; 5:15-17:

                What is the evidence of holiness in our lives?

3. Satan has many names, among them the Deceiver (Rev. 20:10), the Accuser (Rev. 12:10 NKJV), murderer & liar – John 8:44.

How would remembering these names change our daily battle with him?

4. Satan is a defeated foe and has a set destiny:

                He is under a sentence of doom – Isaiah 14:15

                He is under an unending curse – Gen. 3:14-15

                He will be cast out of heaven in the tribulation – Rev. 12:7-9

                He will be thrown into the lake of fire for eternity – Rev. 20:10

Final Thought:

In light of Satan’s ultimate destiny:

                How this affect your daily struggles?

7 Promises – Discussion Q’s

  1. Abundant Life – Matthew 16:24-25

In vs. 24, Jesus explains the cost of following Him. What does He say we must do to be His followers?

How can we do this today?

2. Adoption and Acceptance – John 6:37

Belief in Jesus is essential. How is it possible for a person to believe?

3. Peace through the Holy Spirit – John 14:26-27

4. Joy – John 15:9-11

Peace and joy are also fruits of the Spirit. What does the metaphor of “fruit” in contrast to “acts” tell you about the way these good traits become a part of your life?

5. Reward – Mark 10:29-31

Jesus had just stated that it is nearly impossible for a rich man to be saved. In vs. 28 Peter tells Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you!”

Why did Peter respond to Jesus as he did in 10:28?

Why did Jesus answer Peter as He did in 10:29-30?

How does this exchange shape your view of the rewards of following Jesus?

5. Friendship with God – John 15:13-15

James 2:23 says, “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.”

Can a Christian be close to God without reading the Bible regularly?

Does being a friend of God mean being “good buddies”? Where is the balance with the fear of God?

7. We will have Trials – John 16:33

Why should Christians expect persecution?

Why shouldn’t Christians be fearful or anxious at the prospect of persecution when Jesus is absent?


Summary:

 What one insight from this lesson would you like to take to heart?

How do you fall short or need to grow in this area? How would you like it to affect what you are and do?

What steps can you take toward this end?

Yoda Is Right

Not long ago, someone very close to me was preparing for a physical test. She hadn’t prepared as much as she would have liked, but she was in the midst of the hour long ride to the test. I texted her a picture similar to the one included here (I’m not posting the same picture here for fear of the copy-write police). But the words, “Do or do not. There is no try.” came through loud and clear.

Her response was equally clear, “WHY DOES EVERYONE KEEP SENDING ME THAT?!?”

She survived her test – although she has a long way to go for success. Later, I attempted to explain to her how “I’ll try.” is a defeatist attitude. But she didn’t really want to hear it.

But that is the reality. “I’ll try.” is defeatist, it lacks any commitment, any idea of hope for a positive outcome. This is especially true in our spiritual lives.

Most of us – at some point and in some way – have said, “I try to live for God everyday.” In so thinking, we hamstring ourselves right out of the gate. We consistently quote Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” But we show our lack of true faith and anything but true commitment to Christ when we walk around with an attitude of, “I’ll try. I don’t know if anything good will come of it. But I’ll give my best.”

Scripture tells us repeatedly that we have been given everything necessary to live a holy life. Here is just one:

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

We can live a holy life as we rely on the strength and training of the Holy Spirit.

This is not to say that we will simply waltz through life by “naming it and claiming it” or without any shortcomings or failures. I could repeat, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” until I’m blue in the face and believe it with my whole heart. But one pull-up will continue to be impossible for this tubby, middle-aged, former athlete without a lot of long, hard training.

And that is it. It is the training in the Lord that gives us strength. It is exercising our faith through reading His word, communicating through prayer, and fellowship with other believers that changes our attitude from “I’ll try.” to “I’ll do it.”

We have everything we need to live a godly, holy life. He is a loving Father and He gives us the tools we need to succeed. But, like the weight set that lives in the garage, or the exercise bike that is now a coat rack, the tools must be used if we are to gain strength.

As we use the tools that our Father has given us, “I’ll try to live for God.” becomes “I will live for You everyday, Lord. Because you are my strength and my life.”

How to Handle Your Anger

Step 1 – Consciously acknowledge to yourself that you are angry.

  • Say it out loud
  • “I’m angry about this. What should I do?”
  • Taken a moment to admit the reality of your anger
  • You have set the stage for applying reason to your anger.

Step 2 – Restrain your immediate response.

  • Remember the definition of anger involves “displeasure and usually antagonism”?
    • Active hostility or opposition
    • Which means – a reaction to the offense
  • Don’t react immediately.
  • STOP!
  • Chapman: “Refuse to take the action that you typically take when feeling angry. Waiting can help you avoid both saying and doing things you may or may not mean and later will regret.”

Step 3 – Locate the focus of your anger.

  • What actually happened? Was what the person said or did actually wrong?
    • If no – it is not definitive anger it’s distorted anger
    • If distorted – decision made – let it go
  • If yes – you have actually been wronged – was it serious or minor?
  • How serious it is affects your response.

Step 4 – Analyze your options.

  • Ask yourself:
    • Is this offense worthy of a response?
  • If so – what would be a proportional response
    • What would be the appropriate action to take?

Remember – you aren’t killing a mosquito with a sledgehammer

  • That’s what happens when you react

Chapman says:

“Ask yourself: Does the action I am considering have any potential for dealing with the wrong and helping the relationship? And is it best for the person at whom I am angry? The two most constructive options are either to confront the person in a helpful way, or to consciously decide to overlook the matter.” – i.e. Let it go.

Step 5 – Take constructive action.

  • If you decide to let it go – pray about the matter and give the person, the offense, and your anger over to God.
    • Then genuinely let it go – and release it to God.
  • If you decide to confront the person – do it gently.
    • No sledgehammer.
  • Then listen to what they have to say
    • May have explanation that understandable
  • If they admit and ask forgiveness – give it w/o condition.

Taken from Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way, Gary Chapman

The Believer’s Birthright

The Believer’s Birthright (Eph. 1-2)

        Acceptance by God, with access to Him 24/7,

        Blessing upon blessing upon blessing because I am His beloved,

       Confidence that I’ve been chosen by Him,

       Deliverance from the penalty and the power of sin,

       Enlightenment to understand spiritual things, and eternal life that will never end,

        Forgiveness of all my sin – past, present, and future,

        Grace for every situation and need,

        Hope for my tomorrows, a Heavenly Home be prepared for me,

        An inheritance that is kept for me in heaven,

        Justification so that in God’s sight I am right with Him,

        Knowledge of the truth,

        His love that will never let me go, His life that is abundant, full, and free,

        Mercy that gives me less than I deserve,

        Nearness regardless of where I am or what I’m doing,

        Oneness with Him,

        His power that’s unlimited and His peace that passes all understanding

        His quickening into new life within,

        Redemption from a meaningless, empty, superficial existence,

        The divine seal of His Spirit placed within me,

                …and the list keeps going on and on.

                                       Anne Graham Lotz, The Daniel Prayer