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The Truth About the End Times

Today God has given me something in Revelation 6, verses 15 to 17, which say:

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17)

This is directly following the lamb opening six of the seven seals on the scroll (see Revelation 6:1 to 6:14 for more context). Each one of the seals brought about a new destructive force, and now, after the sixth seal, we see everyone begging for rocks to fall on them in order to try to escape the wrath of the Lamb. These people were terrified of something. And that something, is the knowledge that they were about to be judged. Moreover, they knew their own sinfulness, and so they knew that the verdict was undeniably going to be guilty, and deserving of Hell.

So what is their solution? What brilliance does the human race come up with to combat this impending doom? They cry for rocks to fall on them. Our whole species in danger of being condemned to Hell and the best we can come up with is attempted suicide. Death doesn’t even solve their problem, though, it only hastens their meeting with God.

Now, the real question is, why are we better than them? What makes us so much better that, should this ever happen in our life time, we too won’t be judged and found guilty? Kings (okay, “presidents” if you want to modernize it) will run in terror at the thought of God’s wrath, and the smartest minds of the age will be unable to come up with any possible solution. So why should we, who are quite ordinary (I’m assuming you’re fairly ordinary), possibly feel safe when so many who are superior in the World’s eyes that are terrified? Paul gives us a wonderfully concise answer:

34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)

Christians are not superior to anyone. Most of us aren’t any braver than the average person, or smarter than the average person. But we do have one thing going for us, and that’s Jesus. We no longer fear death, not because we are incredibly brave, but because Jesus lives in us, and His bravery becomes our bravery. God now looks us on us, and doesn’t see someone crying out for rocks to fall and kill him (or her), but rather He sees His own son, bloody and crucified that we might be saved.

See, there’s only one thing any of us needs to know about the end times. We don’t need to know when it will happen, or where it will start. We don’t need to see every war or calamity as a sign of the end of the World, or sell everything we have in order to try to get the message out that Jesus is going to return on some specific date. We only need to know that the one person who can condemn us, Jesus, is the same person who died for us, and who now intercedes on our behalf before God. That is the truth about the end times, nothing more and nothing less.

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The Lamb

Today God has given me something in Revelation 5, verses 5 to 7, which say:

And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. (Revelation 5:5-7)

We are not given all the details here. However, we can infer that this scroll is very possibly the book of life, in which the names of all believers are written (see Revelation 5:1-4 for more context); we can infer this from both John’s weeping that there are none who can open the scroll, and later by who it is that can open the scroll.

With the above in mind, we need to ask ourselves: Who is the Lion of the tribe of Judah? Who is the Root of David that has conquered? The answer can only be Jesus! Only Jesus is as strong and powerful as a lion, and descended from David, and also in the tribe of Judah (see Matthew 1:3 and 1:6). What’s more, only he is the one who has conquered. Notice also that no where in the passage does it mention what Jesus has conquered. This is because there isn’t any one thing Jesus has conquered; He didn’t just conquer death, nor did he just conquer Satan or Hell. He conquered everything. The mighty lion of Judah has defeated all who opposed Him.

Yet… Who is it that John sees when he looks at this strong and mighty lion? John sees a lamb, looking as though it had been slain. He doesn’t see the strong and mighty lion that the elder had claimed to be there. No, rather he sees one of the most meek, humble, and lowly creatures on the planet. What’s more, while just a sheep would’ve been enough, this one looked like it had been slain. What could this thing ever have accomplished? It’s just a pathetic creature, and a dead one at that. To answer that, let’s take a look at a different passage:

29 The next day he [John] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

In the Old Testament, a priest would offer sacrifices for sins. There were various animals for various types of sacrifices; one might offer a dove, or an entire ox, depending on the situation. However, there’s one specific time that a lamb was required: Passover. In the original Passover, every family had to sacrifice a lamb to keep the angel of death from killing their firstborn son; it was only by the death of this lamb that that family would be spared.\

You see, our situation is (or was, if you’ve come to Christ) more dire than that of the Israelites during the first Passover. We are in danger of not only loosing the life of our firstborn son, if you have one, but also of loosing our very soul. We have done innumerable wrongs and crimes against God, and so we needed a sacrifice in proportion to what we’ve done. This is why we need Jesus. Yes He is the mighty and conquering lion of Judah, but He is also the pure and innocent sacrifice for sins that is necessary to appease God’s wrath! Jesus had to not only defeat Satan, but also endure the full wrath of God for sins he didn’t commit – for sins that it isn’t even in His nature to commit. That is to say, for your sins, and for my sins.

For every sin, the Old Testament shows us there is a punishment. You do X whenever Y is true, or you receive A whenever B is true. You offer an dove (just for example) when you’ve done something small, you offer something larger if you’ve done something worse. Whatever the crime was, there must be a sacrifice equal to it. Jesus, however, was not at all equal to the collective sins of the entire World from eternity passed to eternity future. He was not equal to it, because He is overpay. He is more than enough to atone for what we’ve done, and then some. This is why He is called by John “the Lamb that takes away the sins of the World,” and is shown as a slain lamb in our passage in Revelation – Because he is the final sacrifice! There can be no more sacrifices to atone for sin after Him because there is no longer a need or purpose for them.

If we ask Him to save us, He is faithful to do so, in every area of our life. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian already or not, we as Christians still stumble (and will continue to do so until we’re taken out of these bodies of flesh). However, Jesus, just as he was more than enough to atone for our sins, can also give us more than enough strength to overcome any temptation or sin struggle. Paul tells us that God will always make a way out whenever we are tempted, and that “way” is the way, the truth, and the life. So then, we ought to take our problems to Him (in prayer). There is no reason not to, and every to do so.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Spiritual Divorce – Abandoning Our First Love

Today God gave me something in Revelation 2, verses 2 through 5, which say:

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Revelation 2:2-5)

If God has something against you, it tends to be wise to listen to what He says and change accordingly. This passage, however, could be confusing. ‘Abandoning your first love,’ could mean a variety of things. It could mean that many people in the Church were getting divorced, or even that some people were literally abandoning their spouse (i.e., leaving without being divorced). However, we should keep in mind what we talked about in the first couple of verses of Revelation: the book of Revelation is not a revelation about us, but a revelation of Christ. Therefore, it seems unlikely that this passage would be talking about physical divorce, as that in no way reveals Christ. Quite the opposite, actually, as whenever a couple divorces, we see a reminder of humanity’s fallen nature.

Spiritual divorce, however, is something this passage could be talking about. The reason for this being, that when you’re born again, you’re “first love” is always Christ. Before being born again, and being given a new nature, you could well have loved another human, and when you become a Christian that isn’t taken away. However, that fellow human is no longer your first love, Jesus is. Thus, when God talks here about how the Church had ‘abandoned the love they had at first,’ He seems to be saying that they abandoned their love for Christ.

Can you remember when you first became a Christian? You were likely feeling zealous for God, praying frequently, and possibly in the Word rather more than you are now… To put it one way,if you still maintain the same zeal, love, and passion for Christ as when you were saved, I’m afraid you must have already died and gone to Heaven. It is simply not possible while we still live in flesh and bone bodies to always be passionate for Christ. Along with everything else in the World after the fall, our love for God gradually decays if we aren’t constantly in the Word and around other believers. The Church in Ephesus, sadly, had let its love for Christ ‘decay’ so much that their worship was likely in a fairly poor state. Thus, God is warning them that if they continue to put Jesus off to the side in their services, He will have to take away their light. That isn’t to say He would take away their salvation, only that He would take away their effectiveness in the World as lights for God.

There is some pretty clear application for us here. We have to be careful that we don’t allow ourselves to become complacent in our love for Christ. He should always be the center of our worship, whether that worship is private or public (such as in a Church). Setting up a daily reading schedule for your family can help in this a lot, as can making time every day to be alone and pray.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2013 in Delivered Through Love

 

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A Revelation of Christ

In order to avoid too much repetition, given that the Psalms do tend to somewhat repeat themselves (leading to me repeating myself in some of my posts), I’ve decided to move for a bit to the book of Revelation. We will return to where we left off in the Psalms once we’ve finished Revelation. With that said, the passage we’ll start off looking at is in Revelation 1, verses 1 through 2:

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. (Revelation 1:1-2)

The interesting thing about John’s choice (which is reality is God’s choice) to start off the book in this way, is that it somewhat sets the scene for the rest of the book. “The revelation of Jesus Christ,” tells us that this is a revelation of Jesus Christ. I hate to restate the obvious, but it’s important to know that the book is intended to be read as a revelation of Christ. Not as a book about revelations about life, or for that matter of any other subject; though we can certainly learn lessons from it that we can and should apply in our own lives. So then, essentially, we can know that everything we read is meant to reveal some characteristic of Christ to us.

 
 

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The Old Order Has Passed On

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; (Isaiah 61:1-2)

So why again was the Spirit of the Lord on him? Not because he was brave; not because he was strong enough; not because he (Isaiah, the prophet who is speaking) was such a good boy. But because he was appointed by God to “bind the brokenhearted” and to  “free the captives” (etc). I wonder how it is he did this; could it just possibly be that he had some deep knowledge into all things spiritual that just about no one has today? Yes, this has to be it, how else could he do all those things after all…

3 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. 4‘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.” (Revelation 21:3-4)

Isaiah, the prophet, is speaking prophetically. He can’t actually do those things, but someone whose coming, will do all these things. “For the old order of things has passed away.” – Could Isaiah bring a new order of things? Could Isaiah bring a new law? A law that states that “It’s already been done, you don’t need to do anything now”? Only Jesus could wipe away every tear, only he could declare and receive the day of the Lord’s vengeance. Only he could comfort all who mourn. And only Jesus could change the old order of things (sacrifices, etc).

So what’s the point in saying all of this? The point is simply this; the old is gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old prophet has been replaced by the new prophet, priest, and king. The one with the ability to change the old of order of the law to the new order of Christ.

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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The Highway of/to Life

Hello again!

Here’s what God gave me today in his word:

And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 35:8-10)

And in Your eyes I can see
I am not just a man, vastly lost in this world
Lost in a Sea of Faces
Your body’s the bread, Your blood is the wine
Because you traded Your life for mine

Kutless – Sea of Faces

“The Highway of Life”… There’s any interesting thought. “The Highway where you can have life, and even a fool can travel” I’d almost say was a[n] even more novel thought… What exactly does that mean anyway? I mean, I thought that the fool “wouldn’t be called honorable anymore”. And for some strange reason, I’ve always considered going to heaven something of a[n] honor. -i.e. Jesus died and rose again for us so that we could have eternal life! – So why does the fool get it? I mean, I don’t mean to sound arrogant but it seems a little… Wrong; that a fool should get to go to heaven… So what’s happening here? And for that matter, how do we even know this is referring to a highway to Heaven? Well, I’ll see what I can do to answer these questions:

1

“So what’s happening here?” Well, you see we are all fools in one way or another. That may make you suddenly have an urge to click the back button but please stick with me and let me explain.

First off with the following verse, I would like to explain that Paul is in fact talking to the Corinthians here… He is also saying that though we are fools in the worlds eyes, we are wise in Christ:

10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! (1 Corinthians 4:10)

23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, (1 Corinthians 1:23)

So even  the fool – in the eyes of the world, that is – can enter into Heaven. And remember that the only reason we can do that, is because Christ died and rose again for our sins!

2

“And for that matter, how do we even know for sure this is referring to a highway to Heaven?! “

We know it’s referring to heaven because of this:

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

That can only happen in Heaven… Just look at Revelation:

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

In short; we are saved because Jesus took our sin upon himself (he became sin for us, as said in 2 Corinthians 5:21)… Also, we know for sure that this is referring to Heaven because there is no sorrow where it is talking about. – We also know this because the verse says “come to Zion with singing”. And finally we also know that in the worlds eyes we are all fools… But we are all also ransomed to God!

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
 

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