Lord of the Earth (part 5) Sermon Preview

In any competition, “intelligence” can be a helpful.  By “intelligence” I am not referring to the size of one’s intellect (though an exercised brain is certainly helpful.)  By “intelligence” I do mean information that can help you know what your opponent’s strategy or tendencies are.

In military operations, knowing where bases and weapons are located can help plan a successful attack.  In sports, knowing your opponent’s tendencies prepares you on how to respond.  

A timely example from the Women’s College World Series might help illustrate this point.  For tonight’s game, if the University of Texas knew exactly what pitch the OU hurler was going to throw (say an inside screwball) before they threw it, it would give the Longhorn a much better shot at hitting the ball!  

Now, intelligence (of course) is not everything.  If you told me exactly where Jordy Bahl was going to pitch it, I STILL COULD NOT HIT IT.  Why?  Because information is not everything.  Information in my hands would simply make me a smarter strikeout.  However, information in the hands of a skilled ballplayer makes all the difference in the world!

I go through this today, because in Revelation 12-13, followers of Jesus Christ get “intelligence” on our chief opponent – Satan himself.  In these two chapters we learn quite a bit about who the devil is, what his plans are in the future, and his ultimate fate.  This intel is given to equip us with the knowledge needed to face our enemy at the plate.  Plus, we find out how we can overcome his deception and not strikeout … as we are reminded in whose hands the “bat” ultimately rests (Jesus Christ).

So, join us this Sunday at Wildwood for an “intelligence briefing” on our enemy from Revelation 12-13 in part 5 of our “Lord of the Earth” sermon series.  Know that we will not have time to unpack every single verse in this section, so I would encourage you to read these verses ahead of our time on Sunday to help orient you. (As always in this series, I will post additional thoughts on this blog after the message is over).

  See you at 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00.  Come … and bring friends!

On Raiders and Lost Arks in Revelation 11 … one more thought from “Lord of the Earth” (part 4)

In 1981 a man wearing a fedora and a leather bomber jacket went looking for an ancient relic … and he found  place in our hearts for the past 41 years.  Who am I referring to?  Indiana Jones of course!

In 1981 Dr. Jones (played by Harrison Ford) went looking for the “lost” Ark of the Covenant in Steven Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”  Though the story was fiction, the Ark is real … AND the Ark has been somewhat “lost” for 2,500 years now.  King Hezekiah is the last figure in the Bible to speak of the Ark.  It seems to have disappeared at the time of the Jewish exile to Babylon during the days of Daniel.  No one has seen it on this earth since.

What did the ark represent?  Well the Ark (like the tabernacle) was mobile.  It moved with God’s people in the Old Testament, reminding them that their God (unlike the false gods of the surrounding nations) did not live in temples made by human hands or preside over just one territory.  No, the one true God could be anywhere, and sat sovereign over ALL places.  The Ark was the holder for the 10 Commandments – God’s Law, and was covered by a lid known as the “mercy seat.”  Above the Ark the glory of the Lord hovered.  For 2,000 years, the Jewish people have not had a Temple, but for 2,500 years, they have not had the Ark, or God’s presence that was symbolically depicted above it.  Indeed, the Ark is lost … and that is a problem.

If you were at Wildwood this morning for worship, you might ALSO have seen that the Ark was missing from my sermon!  Though it is clearly referenced in Revelation 11:19, it was lost from my sermon, a casualty of time spent focusing on other verses in Revelation 11.  I thought I would take a few minutes to speak about the Ark AND the Temple in Revelation 11 here, to add a few more thoughts related to these verses.

First, let’s talk about the Temple.  Well, if we are honest, the TWO Temples referenced in Revelation 11.  As I mentioned this morning, the presence of ONE Temple would be note-worthy, as there is currently no Temple in Jerusalem, and there has not been a Temple there since the Romans destroyed it in 70AD (just as Jesus had predicted in Matthew 24).  In Revelation 11, though, two Temples are mentioned … one on earth, and one in heaven.

Why do I think there are two Temples referenced here?  Well, because one of the Temples is said to be in the “holy city where Jesus was crucified (11:1-8) … this is an obvious reference to Jerusalem.  The second Temple is said to be in heaven (11:19) … not on the earth at all.  So what are we to make of these two Temples.

Well, the Temple that is in Jerusalem appears to be a rebuilt Temple that will be on the earth during the 7 years of the “Great Tribulation.”  This real and earthly Temple is spoken of in places like Daniel 9:24-27, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, and hinted at in Matthew 24’s declaration of an “abomination of desolation” in the end times.  Those “buds” come to full bloom in Revelation 11:1-2 when John is asked to take a reed and measure the earthly Temple in Jerusalem.  What is the purpose of this Temple?  Well, it seems that this Temple (much like the monstrosity that Herod modified in the first century) is as much a national symbol as it is a religious center.  When the Jews rebuild the Temple in the end, the city of Jerusalem is described as similar to Egypt or Sodom (Revelation 11:8) … two places known for sin and idolatry, not worship of the one true God.  This makes me think that this Temple is rebuilt out of national pride, not as a place for God to inhabit.  The location plays an important role though, for the Anti-Christ, who will desecrate this Temple by personally taking up residence inside it and claiming to be a god (see 2 Thesslonians 2:3-4).  So, there is a Temple in Jerusalem again during the end times, but its role is less than holy.

So, what about the second Temple mentioned in Revelation 11 – the Temple in Heaven?  Well, this Temple is not desecrated and is not destroyed.  This Temple ALSO has something that the earthly Temples of Jerusalem have lacked since the days of Ezekiel in the Old Testament … the presence of the Glory of the Lord!  While the Ark may be “lost” to raiders on the earth, it is present in the heavenly places.  God’s glory is very much alive and well, and His presence is still with His people.  At this point, this presence is a spiritual presence … but one day “the Kingdom of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” (as Revelation 11:15 tells us).  When Jesus does return to this earth, the glory of God will come with Him.  The mercy seat of His throne will be in Jerusalem once again, and He will reign forever and ever.  We can be certain of this, because God’s Word has promised it.  The picture of the Ark in heaven was a reminder for John that the glory of the Lord was alive and well, protected and sustained, and was awaiting a return to His rightful place in the “holy city.”  As Hebrews 9:23-24 indicate, the earthly places of worship are mere shadows of their heavenly realities.  The REAL Temple of God is in Heaven, until it comes to the earth at Christ’s second advent.

One final note on these Temples.  Many Bible commentators do not see the Temple (or Temples) of Revelation 11 the same way I do.  As I mentioned last week, we must be humble in our attempts to understand all of the details of this amazing Revelation.  Many Bible scholars see the Temples of Revelation 11 as merely spiritual temples (not physical at all).  Of course the New Testament does speak of the church as a spiritual temple (see Ephesians 2:11-21), where God’s presence is known in this era.  Because of this language, some assume that the temple language of Revelation 11 must be referring to the spiritual church, not a physical building.  However, I think there are some problems with this view (that cause me to see the two Temples I mention above.)

One problem with seeing the “Temples” of Revelation 11 as the church is found in the language used of the measurements of the Temple in Revelation 11:1-2.  John is instructed to measure the Temple AND the worshippers.  If the Temple IS the worshippers, this would be a strange way of describing what he was supposed to do.  A better and more straightforward reading of the passage (in my understanding) would be to see the measurement of both the facility AND the people.  Further, the Temple was to be measured, but not the outer courts of the Gentiles.  This was a very real and physical location of the physical Temples of the past, and would be expected in the literal Temple of the last days … but is much harder to understand how that language would work if the “church” were in view.  Lastly, as I have shared throughout our study, I believe the church will be raptured to heaven before the tribulation begins (see Revelation 3:10).  If the church is raptured to heaven, why would John be asked to measure the spiritual church on the earth during His “great tribulation” vision?

So, while I do believe that the church is a Temple of the Lord today (as Ephesians 2 clearly teaches) I also see a physical Temple in Jerusalem during the Great Tribulation (as Revelation 11:1-2 indicates) and a Temple in heaven as Revelation 11:19 indicates. 

Just a little extra from these passages for those that may have had questions about the mention of the Temples and the Ark in these verses.

Lord of the Earth (part 4) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, June 5, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 11:1-19.  This message was part 4 of the “Lord of the Earth” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio and video of the message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 11:1-19
  3. Have you ever obeyed the Lord and had it lead to rejection or retribution from others … or simply challenging circumstance?
  4. Of the 4 words of encouragement shared in this message for those who are witnesses (God always has witnesses, does the work, numbers our days, and provides greater blessing), what is most encouraging to you to continue to witness for Him?
  5. What evidence do you have today of the “nations raging”?  What are some specific things you are looking forward to when Jesus begins to reign upon this earth?
  6. Do you find yourself more often “raging like the nations” or “worshipping King Jesus”?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Lord Of The Earth #4 6.5.22

 

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Lord of the Earth (part 4) Sermon Preview

Tonight the NBA Finals tip off between the Celtics and the Warriors. For anyone keeping track at home, I think the Celtics win this series. But I digress …
I will be watching the Finals this year, as I have most every year of my life. I love basketball, and have always followed the NBA. My bedroom growing up had posters of Kareem, Larry Bird, Magic, and Michael Jordan on the walls. These four players are all multiple time NBA champions. In fact, as it pertains to basketball, these are some of the most iconic champs of all time!
Yet did you know something? Each of these men missed many shots (collectively, they missed 34,162 shots in their careers), turned the ball over a ton (11,773 times to be exact), and lost scores of games.
Yet, we don’t remember them for their misses … their triumphs are what we know them by. Together they MADE 42,831 buckets. Collectively they assisted or rebounded the ball 66,774 times. All this translated to 20 combined championships and 17 MVP awards. The scoreboard over their athletic lives reads CHAMPION. Their wins dominate their losses.
I was thinking of this today as I am looking at Revelation 11:1-19. In these verses, a picture of the world is painted during the last 7 years before Jesus returns. Onto this End Times stage step two prophets of God … bearing witness to the person of Jesus Christ, and reminding people of the origin of the judgments that are pouring out on the earth during the Great Tribulation. As we have seen throughout this section of Revelation, God always has His witnesses on the earth inviting people to repent while they still have time. These two witnesses have a remarkable 3.5 year run of ministry. Not only are they proclaiming the reality of Jesus Christ, but they are also performing many miraculous things … things that Old Testament figures Elijah or Moses would understand, but few of us can fathom. During this 3.5 year run, God protects them against all opposition on the earth – though many try to turn these prophets into martyrs, they are ultimately unsuccessful. However, after their run of ministry has completed its God-ordained duration, they are killed by the Anti-Christ, and their bodies are left on the streets of Jerusalem while a cheering/God-hating world looks on. But 3.5 DAYS later, these men are resurrected, and ascend to heaven where they join their Savior and are rewarded for their service.
This rather grisly scene carries a very important (and encouraging) point for all of us. Jesus said repeatedly throughout the Revelation that those who trust in Him are CONQUERORS … CHAMPIONS if you will. Though the world may be able to turn us over for 3.5 days, we will always run the 3.5 year (or longer) course the Lord has for us serving Him. Though Satan may be able to take our earthly bodies in time, Jesus will upgrade them to something incorruptible in eternity! The scoreboard shows that with Jesus we always win … even if it looks to the world like we miss a few shots.
Make plans to join us Sunday at Wildwood as we look at these great verses together in part 4 of our “Lord of the Earth” series at 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00. Join us … and bring friends!

One more thought from “Lord of the Earth” (part 3)

[Yesterday morning, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 10:1-11.  This message was part 3 in the “Lord of the Earth” sermon series.  As I have done each week in this series, here are a few more thoughts connected to the message.]

Smug orthodoxy is very unattractive. 

What do I mean by this?  It is possible to be 100% accurate in your content and miss the point.

Some intellectually know what the Bible says about a number of topics, and can recite those truths to others.  But as they do, they have lost touch with the weight of what they are saying.  The truth has gone from the page of Scripture, into their minds for organization, and then out their mouths in recitation without that same truth settling deep in their own hearts.  When this happens, proper content is delivered without appropriately connected emotion.  And the result often lacks true conviction … and is (as I mention) unattractive.

What is an example of this?

Most of us intellectually KNOW that Jesus is coming back one day, and when He does He will judge the earth and its BILLIONS OF RESIDENTS.  But knowing that truth, and talking about it as fact, but failing to ponder its implications, can lead us to not have a heart level response.  We MENTION His return, but are not MOVED by it.  This stands in contrast to the response of Jesus Himself.

In Luke 19:41–44, we see the account of Jesus as He approached Jerusalem just a few days before His crucifixion.  It says, “And when He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Knowing the judgment that was coming upon Jerusalem because they had rejected Him (judgment that would come in 70AD), Jesus did not gloat over the city and declare “you are going to get what you deserve!!!”  Instead, He weeps, because the heart of God is for all to come to repentance.  Jesus did not just have the truth of coming judgment sit in His head, it was fully integrated into His heart … so He wept.

When we fully have integrated into our hearts the knowledge that judgment is coming upon the world, we also will be moved.  The heart of God (the things God cares about) are in the spiritual DNA of all His people.  Therefore, His heart moves our heart toward others.

And when our heart is moved, what do we do?  Well, in Jesus’ case, the heart of God compelled Him to “seek and to save the lost.”  Consider this interaction that Jesus had with the Pharisees who wondered why He was hanging out with well-known sinners (Matthew 9:10-13), “And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’  But when He heard it, He said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”  When His heart was MOVED, His feet were MOTIVATED to be with the lost and share Christ with them.

When the heart of God MOVES us, it should MOTIVATE us to share the Gospel with the lost as well.  As Romans 10:14-15 states, “How then will they (the lost) call on Him (Jesus) in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’”  We who are found are called to seek the lost and invite them to follow Jesus with us.

In Revelation 10:8-11, the Apostle John is invited to “eat the scroll” that speaks of the coming judgment of God.  By “eat the scroll,” John was not being invited to have a snack, but invited to internalize at a deep level the implications of the second coming of Christ.  Knowing what was to come, John was to be MOVED and MOTIVATED to speak again to  “many peoples and nations and languages and kings” about the Good News of Jesus, so that they might repent while they still have time.  

Let us not be a people of smug orthodoxy who know the truth but do not allow this truth to take up residence in our souls.  Let’s allow this truth to go down deep where the heart of God will MOVE and MOTIVATE us to action.  How can we NOT send missionaries to the ends of the earth if what we read is true?  How can we NOT tell those around us about the glories of Christ if the consequences are so significant?  

Church, let us not just be smarter sinners, but people who truly feast on God’s Word, and live and feel in light of it.

Lord of the Earth (part 3) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, May 29, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 10:1-11. This message was part 3 of the “Lord of the Earth” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio/video of the message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 10:1-11
  3. What are some events you have lived through or witnessed from a distance that made you utter the thought, “How long O Lord will You allow this to continue?”
  4. Apparently God wants us to know about how the world will end.  This is why He talks about it often in His Word, and provided this extended explanation in the book of Revelation.  Why do you think God has communicated so much to us about how things will end?
  5. Two perspectives were mentioned in the message that we need to have:  “we need to have an end times understanding” and “we need to have humility in our end times understanding” (i.e. we don’t know/understand it all.  Which of these statements is more of a challenge to you at this point in your Christian walk?
  6. What are some examples of truths about God or in God’s Word that are examples of something that is both “sweet” and “bitter”?
  7. Knowing that Jesus is returning, we should be both “expectant and excited” but also “moved and motivated.”  In what ways do these thoughts (expanded upon in the message) motivate you to action this week?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

The Lord of the Earth #3 5.29.22

 

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Lord of the Earth (part 3) Sermon Preview

On May 14, a man walked into the Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, New York and opened fire, killing 10 and wounding 3 more.  Making this event even more despicable, were the racist motivations of the killer.

On May 24, a man walked into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas and killed 21 people.  Making this event even more despicable, is the fact that 19 of those killed were children.

These two events, ten days apart, illicit a common response from many (including me) … “Lord, how long?”

How much longer will this world be subjected to acts of senseless violence?  How much longer until the guilty are brought to justice?  How much longer until the Lord of the Earth makes the “kingdom of this world become the Kingdom of our God”?

What if Jesus were to come back RIGHT NOW and make it right.  What if He were to thunder onto this planet again tonight and bring justice with Him.  What if you heard a trumpet sound RIGHT NOW, and knew that this age was over … no more school shootings, no more racist acts of violence, no more wars in the Ukraine, no more sex trafficking?  How would that feel?  Would it be a sweet moment?

The knee jerk obvious answer is – YES!  It would be amazing.  It would taste so sweet.  But, is there any part of His return that might taste a bit bitter?  Some realities that could be hard to stomach?  Well … the answer is also – yes.  At least according the Revelation 10:1-11.

Know this … Jesus will return and when He does, He will usher in justice and judge all evildoers.  As His followers, we should long for this day, and the events of this past week remind us of that.  However, as His followers, there is also something that should disturb us about the second coming.

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, we will be in Revelation 10 for part 3 of our series “The Lord of the Earth.”  We will look at what this passage tells us about the bitter AND the sweet of the knowledge of Christ’s imminent return.  Make plans to join us this Memorial Day weekend at 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 … and bring friends!

Lord of the Earth (part 2) Supplemental Thoughts …

3 More Thoughts From Revelation 7 …

This morning, I preached part 2 of the “Lord of the Earth” series.  This message focused on Revelation 7:1-17.  In the sermon we saw that just as there is a certainty of the wrath of God coming in the future during the Great Tribulation, so also there is a certainty of a future revival that will come upon the earth in the last 7 years before Christ returns.  If you missed the message, you can find it in the preceding posts.  

As I knew would be the case in this series, there simply was not enough time in these messages on Sunday mornings to unpack all I would like to talk about in each sermon.  So (similar to last week) here are a few more thoughts from Revelation 7.

  1. A few extra thoughts about the references to Israel in Revelation 7.  As we saw this morning, after the rapture of the church, and during the Great Tribulation era, God will “seal” 144,000 descendants of Israel.  As I mentioned today, I believe these are representative of all of ethnic Israel that will still be alive and on the earth during the tribulation.  These sealed Jews will come to faith in Christ and be protected from God’s wrath during the time of the Tribulation so that they might be His witnesses among the nations during that era (see Isaiah 49:6 and Mathew 24:14 for further reference.)  In the bonus content I put out last week, I mentioned the parallels between the 21 movements of wrath in the Great Tribulation era (Seals, Trumpet, and Bowl judgments), and the 10 plagues on Egypt during the time of the Exodus.  It is interesting to see this “sealing” as a modern twist on the protection offered those who practiced the Passover in Exodus.  At that time, the blood of a lamb on the doorposts offered protection from God’s wrath … here in the end times, the “seal” on the forehead of the Jews protected them from experiencing the wrath that was afflicting the rest of the earth (Revelation 9:1-4).  

One interesting thing about this concerns the references to 12,000 FROM EACH TRIBE.  John goes on to tell us the 12 tribes of Israel that are sealed included:  Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin.  This list of the 12 tribes is interesting in a few ways.  First of all, the list includes Levi … something that is surprising because the Levites (as the Priestly Clan) did not receive any land inheritance, so they were sometimes omitted from the 12 tribe listings of the Old Testament.  Second, we notice that Ephraim is not mentioned, but his brother Manasseh and father Joseph are.  In the lists of the tribes of Israel in the Old Testament, often Manasseh and Ephraim are listed as “half tribes,” and Joseph is excluded by name (referenced though through his two sons).  Finally, we see that Dan is excluded from the Revelation 7 list altogether.  So, is there anything to make of the special nuances of these lists?  Probably!  Though we may not know with total clarity.  My best guess is that Dan is not mentioned here to single out Dan’s idolatry long ago.  Same goes for Ephraim, whose name became synonymous with the Northern Kingdom of Israel (10 tribes) after the nation split, with the northern kingdom sliding into idolatry faster than the south.  What is clear, though, is that God is not done with either Dan or Ephraim.  He may discipline them a bit, but Ezekiel 48 talks about the Danites getting land during Jesus’ new Kingdom at the end, so they are not dialed out altogether.  Also, Ephraim is not mentioned by name, but every descendent of Ephraim would have also been a descendent of Ephraim’s dad Joseph, so all are included.  This reminds us that the kind of people God saves are “sinful people.”  All the redeemed of heaven have this in common … including you and me.  He did not give up on Israel, and He will not give up on us.

A second point of interest relates to the continued presence of Israel as a people ALL THE WAY UNTIL THE END.  This is remarkable given Israel’s history.  After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, the Jewish people were scattered around the world.  They would not exist again as a nation until 1948!  Nearly 2000 years!!!  And yet, in the end times, there they are, named and accounted for.  How can one explain the “legs” this nation has over the marathon of history?  Well, it has to do with God.  God made supernatural promises to Abraham, Isaac, and eventually Jacob (Israel).  He promised to give them a kingdom, land, and blessing … and that Messiah would come through them!  Given these promises (and God’s faithfulness) we should not be surprised to see Israel as an entity in this description of the end of the world.  In the “kingdom phase” of the end (something we will see in greater detail later this year), God will make good on ALL the promises He made to Israel as a people.  Including this reference to ethnic Israel here, is a reminder to all that God can be trusted.  He does not forget His promises like we do.  He holds them fast, even after thousands of years.  

It is interesting to note that during the time of the Protestant Reformation, the nation of Israel had not existed for 1500 years.  So, when many Reformation era Bible scholars wrote, they did not see these references in Revelation 7 to refer to literal Israel … after all, Israel was no more (from their perspective)!  So, many scholars tried to replace Israel with the church, and they see Revelation 7 and the 144,000 as referring to the church – missing the obvious textual assertion that the 144,000 are actually Jewish!  While the Reformers have given many gifts to the modern church, they (after all) were men, and captive to their era of history in some of their understanding.  Given our vantage point in 2022, with Israel now celebrating their (nearly 75th) year as a reconstituted nation, it is easier to see why Dispensational theology (which maintains God’s program for Israel in the last days) has gained new footing.  The blind spot of the Reformers here should also serve as a humble reminder for us.  Especially as it relates to end times prophecy, there are most likely many things we don’t fully understand.

  1. The Song of Salvation in Revelation 7:15-17.  After the “sealed” Jewish evangelists go and share the Gospel to the ends of the earth during the Tribulation, John records seeing a multitude from every tribe, tongue, and nation in Heaven who had been saved as a result of the ministry of the 144,000.  This multitude is serving, praising, and worshipping God in Heaven.  As they worship, they sing a song that begins, “Salvation belongs to our God and to the Lamb.”  I love this statement.  It reminds us that when it comes to salvation, Jesus is the hero (not us.)  The redeemed of heaven are not sitting around singing about how great each other are.  They simply are declaring again and again and again how great Jesus is!  This reminds us why JESUS and GOD THE FATHER are the themes of our worship songs.  We celebrate and sing of His greatness not our own.  When we tell our testimonies, if anyone other than God the Father or God the Son is the hero, then we are telling it wrong.  We are SAVED after all … by Him! It is God’s work that saves us and God’s work that should be celebrated in our worship songs and spiritual stories.

The remainder of this Song of Salvation talks about how for all time “The Lamb … will be their shepherd.”  What a picturesque statement!  The Lamb of God shepherding us for all time.  I am immediately reminded of Psalm 23’s great statement “The LORD is my shepherd …”  The amazing thing about heaven is that Jesus is there.  And the reward for the follower of Christ is that we get to be led by Jesus for all time.  When we are with Christ, He provides for us amazing things:  provision (hunger and thirst no more – 7:16), shelter (sheltered in His presence and protected from the scorching elements – 7:15-16), and comfort from life’s hurt (drying every tear from our eyes – 7:17).  Oh how wonderful it is to be shepherded by the Lamb for an afternoon … but to be with Him and under His care forever?  That is truly amazing.

Think about all the struggles that the Tribulation era saints (those who believe based on the testimony of the 144,000) would have experienced.  They had gone through so much difficulty in life (persecution, atrocities on the earth, the wrath of God falling around them … and all that in addition to life’s normal challenges!)  After their earthly life was done, they found themselves before the throne of God and in a position of being cared for forever.  What a contrast … what a reward!  This world makes us long for something better.  Jesus provides it.  Are you dissatisfied with life today?  Weighed down under life’s burdens?  Then make the Lord your shepherd.  Follow Him and be a member of  His flock.  There is nothing like it.  Life still will have its challenges now, but in eternity, we have no hunger or thirst or tears.

  1. A more detailed chart of Daniel 9:24-27.  I mentioned today a bit about the prophetic calendar laid out in Daniel 9:24-27 which (among other things) lets us know that we should expect the Great Tribulation era to last seven years.  Pastor Bruce Hess shared with me a chart he produced on the timeline referenced in Daniel 9.  I am attaching it here for your edification.

Lord of the Earth (part 2) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, May 22, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Revelation 7:1-17.  This message was part 2 in the “Lord of the Earth” sermon series.  Below is a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio and video of the message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Revelation 7:1-17  
  3. As the day approaches for Christ’s return, have you ever considered the increased urgency for evangelism “as the day draws near”?  Have you ever thought how even JESUS HIMSELF might have a sense of urgency as the time for His return approaches?
  4. Jesus persists in pursuit of people right up to the very end.   Share a bit of your own personal spiritual story.  In what ways have you sensed Jesus’ pursuit of you?  If you have not yet placed your faith in Christ, how does it make you feel to think that Christ is still pursuing a relationship with you?
  5. Right to the end, Jesus is pursuing “the lost” through “the found.”  How are you currently actively participating in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20 & Acts 1:8) today?
  6. Who is the hero of your “salvation story” the way you tell it?  Who is the hero of your favorite Christian songs?  The song of Revelation 7 reminds us of the true hero of salvation … and it is not us, but Jesus.  Spend some time thanking Him and worshipping Him for the salvation He provides.
  7. Which of the provisions provided by Jesus in Revelation 7:15-17 is most meaningful to you right now?  Why is that particular provision so meaningful to you at this time?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

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The Lord Of The Earth #2 5.22.22

 

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Lord of the Earth (part 2) Sermon Preview

Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of leading tours of the nation of Israel.  It has been a true joy to help guide hundreds of people in an exploration of the land where much of the events in the Bible took place.  Exploring the oasis of Eingedi where David hid from King Saul, visiting Capernaum – the home base for much of Jesus’ earthly ministry, walking the shores of the Mediterranean where Paul was held captive in Caesarea, peering inside caves where animals were kept in Bethlehem – wondering if that was the spot where Jesus was born, seeing the massive stones that once composed the Temple Mount still cracking the pavement from when they were cast down by Titus in 70AD in the city of Jerusalem … it is an overwhelming journey (and these are just SOME of the amazing sites to behold).  

NOTE:  I am co-leading another trip with my good friend Mark Burget in June 2023 … if you are interested in joining us, please send me a message and I will get you the details!

When I first started going to Israel, I knew I would love visiting the biblical sites.  As a student of the Scriptures I expected that.  However, what I didn’t fully anticipate was my love of the people and modern history of this country.  The guide we partner with in Israel is a remarkable man of tremendous skill, and an Israeli citizen.  One of the highlights of each trip is getting to ask him so many questions about his country and the events unfolding around it.  

One question I asked our guide related to the tribes of Israel.  “What tribe are you from?,” I asked?  I thought this was a good question, as Israel was comprised originally of 12 “tribes” – the descendants of 12 sons of Jacob (whose name was changed by God to Israel).  His answer – “Judah, of course.”  I asked how he knew.  He said they are all “Jews” (a term derived from Judah, though Judah was just one of the 12 tribes.)  He reminded me that the northern 10 tribes lost their identity in the time of the Assyrian invasion 2,600+ years ago.  

This comment got me thinking.  What about the rest of the tribes?  Are they really gone?  Are there no more Levites today, etc.?  Is there anyone who can still distinguish their tribe?  Ancestry.com?  Anything?

Well, turns out, there is One who knows the tribal ancestry of the nation of Israel.  And that One is God Himself.  And, turns out, this tribal identity will matter again one day.  Which day?  The Day of the Lord.  In the time of the judgment upon the earth at the end times and carrying on into the Kingdom that Jesus will reign over after His return, there will be a renewed identity of each of the tribes of the nation of Israel.  

What is the purpose for this?  Where is the church in the midst of all of this?  Who will be the primary human witnesses on the earth for Jesus during the time of God’s seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments? And will ANYONE BELIEVE IN JESUS AND BE SAVED during the last days?  And why does any of this matter to us?

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will be looking at Revelation 7:1-17 in part 2 of our series “Lord of the Earth” as we seek to answer these questions (and more).  Hope you make plans to be a part of our time of worship this weekend!  See you at 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 … and bring friends!