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Showing posts from April, 2021

Disciples and Persecution

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When Christians react in kind to hostility, whether from government, society, or individuals, Satan triumphs   –   Matthew 5:12 . The reality of persecution for many Christians raises several questions. How should they react to persecutors, especially when they are persecuted by governing authorities? Should they respond with indignation, civil disobedience, or public protests, or should disciples of Jesus follow his example and that of the early church? - [ Dark Lonely Trail photo by  Sander Mathlener  on Unsplash ].

Mercy is NOT Optional

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Mercy and love are the defining characteristics of his disciple and reflect the true nature of his Father  –  Matthew 5:43-48 .  Christians can be confused, even overwhelmed, by the exhortation found in the middle of Christ’s ‘ Sermon on the Mount ’ - “ Therefore be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect .” We assume that “ perfection ” means conforming to a standard of righteousness that is impossible for any human. How can anyone ever hope to emulate the perfect righteousness of God? - [ Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash ]

His Absolute Authority

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At the conclusion of his sermon delivered on the mount, Jesus vested his words with ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY  –  Matthew 7:21-28 .  The  Sermon on the Mount  is not a program for reforming civil society, implementing economic justice, or a utopian pipe dream for the perfect society. Instead, it provides clear instructions for how his disciples must live in the present age as faithful citizens of  HIS  kingdom. For his followers, his teachings are not optional, and at the sermon’s conclusion, Jesus vested his words with ultimate authority - [ Built on sand - Photo by  Nadin Mario  on  Unsplash ].

Short Season

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The Devil will be granted a final “short season” to persecute the saints of the Lamb - Revelation 12:7-12 .  When Satan was expelled from heaven, a “ great voice ” warned that the “ Dragon ” was enraged, knowing that he had only a “ short season ” to inflict harm on the saints. He attempted to vent his rage by persecuting the “ woman ” who produced the messianic “ son ,” but was thwarted from doing so. Then, he launched his “ war ” against her “ seed ,” those who had the “ testimony of Jesus .” - [ Photo by AgĂȘ Barros on Unsplash ].

War in Heaven

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The saints overcame the Dragon through the death of the Lamb and their faithful witness, “even unto death” – Revelation 12:11 .  In Chapter 12 of Revelation , the “ sign of the Great Red Dragon ” appeared in the heavens, signifying that the “ war ” had commenced between his forces and those of the messianic “ son ” who was destined to “ shepherd the nations .” The result was the expulsion of Satan from “ heaven ,” and the proclamation of the victory of the “ brethren ” - [ Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash ].

Ancient Beast

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The “beast from the sea” is the latest incarnation of an ancient creature that has stalked the “seed of the woman” since the fall of Adam .  In broad terms, history repeats itself. Its landscape is littered with attempts by tyrants to dominate large populations and even the entire planet. They may have experienced success for a time, but so far, every presumed world ruler has floundered in the end. The empires of Nebuchadnezzar, Augustus, Hitler, etc, all have been confined to history’s dustbin - [ Photo by David Clode on Unsplash ].

Beast from the Abyss

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The first appearance of the “beast” is at its ascent from the “Abyss” when it wages “war” on the “two witnesses”  –  Revelation 11:7 .  The “ Abyss ” was introduced when the “ fifth trumpet ” sounded and demonic hordes “ ascended ” from this dark place. It is referred to next after the “ two witnesses ” completed their “ testimony .”  On cue, the “ beast ascended from the Abyss ” to attack and slay both “ witnesses ,” but it cannot do so until they have finished their prophetic mission - [ Abyss photo by  Juan Davila  on Unsplash ] .

Two Witnesses Slain

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Persecuted by the impenitent “inhabitants of the earth,” the “two witnesses” lie dead on the main street of the “Great City” - Revelation 11:8-14 .  The “ second woe ” does not end until the “ two witnesses ” have completed their “ testimony ” and their “ corpse ,” singular, lies on the streets of the “ Great City .” Only then, will the final trumpet sound and usher in the “ Day of the Lord ,” the hour of judgment. But the completion of their task also triggers the ascent of the “ beast from the Abyss ” who will kill them - [ Photo  by Arpit Rastogi on Unsplash ].

Two Witnesses Testify

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The “two witnesses” must complete their “testimony” before the Beast is unleashed from the “Abyss”  -  Revelation 11:3-7 .  In  its  task of  prophesy ing   before   “ nations and kings ,” the  church is   symbolized by the “ t wo  witnesses ” as they give “ testimony ” against  the “ inhabitants of the earth .” Their  work  continues for  the entire  “ twelve hundred and sixty days ” or   “ forty-two months ”  until they   “ finish ” their work. Afterward, they  are  “ slain by the  B east   from the  abyss . ” - [ Twin Lighthouses - Photo by  insung yoon  on Unsplash ].

Sanctuary Measured

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The sanctuary must be “measured” before the city can be inhabited, but first, it must be “trampled underfoot” by the nations  -  Revelation 11:1-2 .  In the preceding vision, John was commanded to “ prophesy again over many peoples and nations and tongues and kings ,” setting the stage for the next two visions, the “ measuring of the sanctuary and altar ” and the “ two witnesses .” Both visions are connected by the equivalent figures of “ forty-two months ” and “ 1,260-days .” - [ Photo by  Isaac Smith  on Unsplash ].

Spirit of Life

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It is the Spirit of God that imparts life, especially the everlasting life in Jesus of which the gift of the Spirit is the foretaste and guarantee .  In the churches of Galatia, certain “ false brethren ” were preaching “ another gospel ,” one that required Gentile believers to be circumcised and conform to some of the other regulations required by the  Torah . Paul would have none of it and responded with a series of arguments, beginning with an appeal to the gift of the Spirit - [ Mountain Stream photo by Delaney Van on Unsplash ].

Spirit and Covenant

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From the start, the promise of the Spirit has been integral to redemption and the Covenant of God with His people .  In  Galatians , Paul links the “ promise of the Spirit ” to the “ blessing of Abraham ,” the covenant promise that God would bless the Gentiles in the Patriarch. He is referring to the Spirit that the Galatians received “ through a hearing of faith .” Thus, the gift of the Spirit is part of the covenant made with Abraham, and with “ his seed ” - [ Photo by  David Brooke Martin  on Unsplash ].

Desolating Abomination

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SYNOPSIS  –  Literary context is vital for understanding the “Abomination that Desolates” in the book of Daniel  -  Daniel 9:27 .  The climax of the “ seventy weeks ” prophecy is the appearance of the “ abomination that desolates ” in the final half of the “ seventieth week .” What is this “ abomination ”? When did it appear? Is it a yet future reality? Investigations seeking to answer these and similar questions must begin with what  book of Daniel  has to say about it. Moreover, the reference to it in the “ seventy weeks ” prophecy is neither the first nor the last word on the matter. Interpreting the “ abomination ” in isolation from the larger context of  Daniel  will not produce accurate answers. - [ Photo by  Yoal Desurmont  on Unsplash ]

Persia Stirs Greece

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The conflict between Persia and Greece presented in the vision of the ram and goat is recapped at the start of the final vision  -  Daniel 11:1-4 . The introduction to the final vision did more than just portray an impressive angelic visitation. It provided verbal links to the vision of the “ ram and the goat ” and its interpretation. Now, additional details are presented concerning the demise of Persia, the rise of Greece and its first great king, and its division into four lesser realms - [ Greek Temple - Photo by  Simon Maage  on Unsplash ].

Little Horn in Revelation

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Daniel’s “little horn” is found in Revelation in the description of the “beast from the sea” and its “war against the saints.”  In  Revelation , the “ little horn ” is not named  e xplicitly but its characteristics are present in the “ Beast from the sea .” The book does not simply retell the same story without changes, modifies and repurposes it to tell  ITS  story. The “ Beast ” is based on Daniel’s “ little horn ” but also is something beyond it, and arguably, something far worse - [ Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash ].