Thursday, July 23, 2009

"Its just so hard to believe"

Its been a slow news week, which is always a good time for reflection. Having said that, however, one brief news article is of potential interest:

Under the category of Zechariah's prophecy that the entire world would be lined up against Israel, we see the following article "Worldwide Coalition, Media Putting Israel in Corner"

Back to the main point of reflection. I often hear folks say that the prophecies contained in the book of Revelation are so dramatic and so "epic" its simply hard to believe that they will occur. After all, the world hasn't witnessed God's hand in such dramatic ways since the Old Testament descriptions, and its hard for many people to believe that the entire earth can actually experience these kinds of events, as dictated directly by God. But the book gives us some interesting insight and direction, which specifically seems to address this natural skepticism.

The first three verses of the book of Revelation contain scriptures that are unique to this book:

"The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw - that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ." (1-2)

"Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it because the time is near." (3).

This last verse is interesting on several levels. First of all, this "blessing" is not offered in any other book in the bible. "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy".

Secondly, we see "...blessed are those who....take to heart what is written in it because the time is near.". You may recall that the last chapter of Daniel reveals how the angels informed Daniel that the prophetic scrolls would be "opened" at the end of the age. Now, we see that when men take the book of Revelation "to heart" then the time is near. Its been the second half of "this generation" that man began to read the book and understand it in a literal manner. Prior to this generation, throughout the last 2,000 years, the book of Revelation was viewed as a symbolic writing, not intended for specific, literal interpretation. Finally, as part of God's divine plan, man is reading, understanding, and applying the book of Revelation in a literal way, and in essense "taking it to heart". Another sign that we are in the last days.

But what I find as more interesting, are three key scriptures found in this book. I believe we receive these three scriptures because of the epic nature of Revelation, and to serve as a guide in reading and understanding the book:

In Revelation 19, we see a scene taking place in heaven, just at the point of the Second Coming, a huge "multitude" of saints celebrating God's greatness by praising and recognizing that the Tribulation is over and Jesus is returning to earth to reign, we see the following words by one of God's angels:

"And he added, "These are the true words of God" (Rev. 19:9).

No ambiguity there. No reference to symbolism. No reference to dreams or visions. As seen above in the beginning words of the book, John was testifying to what he was shown, and he was shown the future exactly as it happened.

Reading further:

Revelation 21:5 "He who was seated on the throne said. 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down for these words are trustworthy and true."

In this scripture, God Himself informs John (and subsequently, us) that these very words are trustworthy and true. Note the LACK of direction that these writings could be symbolic or allegoric in nature. No. Rather God makes it very clear that one can trust these VERY WORDS exactly as stated.

Thats two specific references to taking the words literally. But that wasn't enough. We see this yet a third time:

"The angel said to me, 'These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets sent his angel to show the servants the things that must soon take place.'" (Rev. 22:8)

It doesn't get any more clear than that does it? For someone who believes that the book of Revelation is a vague, symbolic book, to be interpreted by the individual, would necessarily need to explain these three key scriptures. If the book was intended to be understood as some kind of mystical symbolism, then why would God have directed us by stating that each WORD of the book is both trustworthy and TRUE?

Then, if that weren't enough, we see yet another blessing to those who read and understand the "words" of this book:

"Behold, I am coming soon!
Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book." (Rev. 22:7)

Hard to believe?

Not really. God said so. He said the words are trustworthy and true. He also said that we will be blessed by reading and keeping these words, as stated.

Thats enough for me.

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