Although it is off topic for tonight’s reading, I HAVE to share with you a disturbing question that entered my mind. Looking on the internet, I’m not the first to have this question. And although it is back tracking to talk about the rapture, I think exploring this will give us a firm foundation on the rapture whether we actually answer the question.
So here we go…
We believe that our souls go to heaven to be with Jesus when we die but our bodies “sleep” in the grave. When Jesus comes for us we will meet Him in the air. Those who have already died and their souls are in heaven, their bodies will rise to be reunited with their souls right?
So… what if… your donated organs…are in the body of a nonbeliever when you are raptured? Do they come along? Because if God is gathering up the original matter that’s a TERRIFYING prospect for nonbelievers with corneal implants, pancreas or heart transplants.
So I got to thinking about that and we can search a lot of places but let’s look in the Bible.
2 Corinthians 5:8 tells us that when we die we are away from the body and at home with the Lord
1 Thessalonians 4:16 tells us the dead in Christ will rise first. If their soul is already up in heaven than clearly we’re talking about bodies rising.
1 Corinthians 15:52 tells us the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed. So these bodies that rise, they will be changed
John 5:29 calls it a resurrection to life or death depending on those who have done good or evil
Verse 28 tells us people will come out of the tombs.
Returning to 1 Corinthians 15:37-38 we read
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
So it seems that what is raised, what comes out of the tomb, what is resurrected, is not the body that was put in the tomb but a new GLORIFIED body. This also helps explain why Jesus would be unrecognizable at first. Looking like Himself, but different, glorified, without blemish. Close enough that eventually you get it is Him, different enough that it takes you a moment (add to that perhaps the Spirit kept disciples from recognizing Him at first.)
Mary knew His voice
Thomas His scars and punctures
Two others when He broke bread
So no, when you donate organs God probably isn’t going to reconstitute the original matter. But that would have been a nightmare scenario. Not like there aren’t plenty of them about to happen already.
So onto the text: silence in heaven for about half an hour
Angels have been praising God
Various praise and likely noise
If you are watching a scary movie and there is a dramatic rising soundt rack and the. Suddenly…silence… what do you think that means?
Anticipation, something BIG is about to happen
Some copyright material from the book I'm not including here
We also talked about the believer and cremation (it is not prohibited like some believe.) And we talked about how AI is rapidly progressing, can be used for good, but also is being used to fuel the kind of degeneracy that was mentioned at the end of this chapter
In the early church there was this question that had to be addressed. Israel was God’s Chosen people. But they weren’t coming to faith and salvation in Jesus. If God’s chosen people aren’t accepting salvation, how can the promise be fulfilled?
We spoke a little on Sunday about Covenant and how it takes both parties involvement for it to hold up. But we also inherently know that God has a plan for the children of Abraham. So when are they going to be saved? This section poses the answer.
(content removed for copyright reasons)
Now I admit, I get lost on the math a bit, mainly because my brain is asking other questions, but it’s neat that God “carries the seven” and gives the Jews those seven years to come to faith in Him. Some will. Some won’t. But there will be a turning of hearts towards Jesus amongst the Jews.
David Jeremiah tells us that the spiritual blindness remains until the last Gentile is brought in and then the Rapture. God turns His attention to the Jews who remain during the Tribulation, many will believe and be martyred. Some are sealed and protected.
Some have said that the Bible stands for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Some will turn to them after we’ve left earth and read those instructions.
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters,[e] were killed just as they had been.
7 The priest shall then put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense that is before the Lord in the tent of meeting. The rest of the bull’s blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
David Jeremiah, quoting Barnhouse, points out that they are at the base of the altar where the blood is poured out. Not peeking out sheepishly but being under the altar, where Jesus was sacrificed, is not about their blood but His. They are COVERED by His blood meaning they are saved and redeemed. They are justified not by theirs poured out but by His.
Nothing can touch the believer unless it passes through the will of God.
This is a good word in ALL times.
When we look at the world around us: calls for violence from trans individuals, Muslim prayers in Time Square (try and organize Christian prayer there and see what happens.) Fires and looting and the UN normalizing pedophilia, we might ask “just how bad is it gonna get?” the martyred asked “how long until God brings Justice and a stop to this wickedness?” The time is coming.
IF YOU HEAR NOTHING ELSE TONIGHT HEAR THIS:
It might seem like why is God delaying when they ask “how long” and we might ask that too. But there are still more souls that need saving before He does. Which is a call for us to get busy because MAYBE HE’S REALLY ASKING US HOW LONG BEFORE WE GET TO WITNESSING TO THEM?
one of the more disturbing realities of the black horse of the Apocalypse (famine) is that these two stories from the Old Testament may come to pass again
I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh in the siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life will distress them.”’
2 Kings 6:24-29
Now it came about after this, that Ben-hadad king of Aram gathered all his army and went up and besieged Samaria. There was a great famine in Samaria; and behold, they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver. As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall a woman cried out to him, saying, “Help, my lord, O king!”read more.
He said, “If the Lord does not help you, from where shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the wine press?” And the king said to her, “What is the matter with you?” And she answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ So we boiled my son and ate him; and I said to her on the next day, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him’; but she has hidden her son.”
Also consider how farmers gone off to war might impact the global food supply
Read Rev 4:1-2, based on this how do you think our call to leave Earth might be like Johns?
What were trumpets used for in OT? Festive occasions, war cry to rally troops, mark beginning or end. What does that tell us about the voice in 4:1?
1 Cor 15:50-54 read.
What will happen to us? How fast?
Read 1 Thess 4:13-18
What were the church people worried about?
What comfort do we take from these verses?
Thyatira permitted sexual immorality amongst it's people. Scripture teaches there is a place for proper judgement inside the church. Popular culture would teach "judge not" but let's look at the entirety of the Scriptural context for that phrase and some other places.
7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Many, including myself, take this to mean that judgment is reserved for within the church, by those not victim to the thing they are accusing someone else of.
God is not against judges, He appointed judges over Israel and made a whole book about it named JUDGES. He gives judgement to the Son in John 5 we read
22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
And in Revelation we have read that Jesus is returning as the Judge.
Paul told the Corinthians we are EXPECTED to judge within the church as oppossed to letting nonbelievers handle our disputes. Look at 1 Corinthians 6, this is one of those passages that some people will not like but I want you to grasp this as a key verse to understand something in a minute.
2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!
7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Paul expects us to reign with Christ in the Millenial kingdom like we have been talking about in Revelation and if we can do that we can come to agreements on trivial matters and learn to let some things go instead of blowing them up.
This passage mentions homosexuality as a sin. There's no way around it, it's in the text. And we might be tempted because we're not dealing with that same sin to use this to point the finger at others. But also notice it lists adultery, greed, drunkeness, other sexual sins. All of these are definitely sins, unexcused. We should HELP people through their sins we are not struggling with and be prepared to take help from others. And we should not think we are better than others because their sin is in a different category than ours. If we have any unrepentant sin, we must repent and turn from it, and to Jesus for forgiveness.
Thyatira was falling into a sex cult. They may have tried to keep this from other church members. But God searches hearts and minds and knows what ALL of our sins are, even sins in our minds and hearts where we fantasize on everything from lust to murder. We need God's help with ALL of it!
The church in Sardis was told their deeds were incomplete, they may have stood on past successes but God said they aren't done. They had a reputation of life but were spiritually dead.
We spoke about being spiritually dead or on "spiritual life support."
The church in Philadelphia was a revival style church. We spoke about revival and how it starts with the individual. It's different from NEW life in Christ but is the REVIVE-al of something that used to be. How do you get that fire back? Go back to the prescription Jesus gave Ephesus, REMEMBER how it was, REPEAT what you used to do for Jesus, and REPENT of your sinful ways.
We concluded with Laodicea, the lukewarm church discussing how disgusting it is to Jesus and to nonbelievers when our faith is in name only.
For next time we will discuss chapters 5 and 6 (which are only a few pages long.)
Ephesus was in a cosmopolitan prominent city. This place held a wonder of the world, the Temple of Diana. It could seat 24,000 people at one time. For comparison, Saddleback church, one of the most famous mega churches holds 3,000. The Georgia Dome held 71,000. So worship of Diana could be seen as 8 Saddlebacks or about ⅓ a Georgia Dome.
David Jeremiah points out in some translations it doesn’t talk about their hard work but their LABOR.
You see this church was doing a lot of good works, but they were exhausted. There’s an old addage about 10% of the people doing 90% of the work. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here, the church as a whole were working, LABORING to the point of exhaustion. And they are persevering. Think about when you’re working out and you’ve set in your mind you’re going to lift something or you’re going to walk THIS much. Maybe by the end of it your muscles start talking to you don’t they? Maybe they start getting shaky.
You know how good it would feel to lay this down?
You did good up to this point…close enough!
Perseverance says you push through to do the rest of what you set out to do. And we read they’re still going even though they are tired.
But instead of compromising, like some other churches we will discuss, they rooted out false worship in their midst. They practiced church discipline. Have any of you ever seen church discipline practiced?
There was a practice going on until about 150 AD, so nearly 120 years after Jesus’ death on the cross, called Apostolic Succession. You see the Apostles wouldn’t live forever. And people knew that Jesus had given them power to cast out demons, drink poison and it not hurt them (we saw this evidenced when people tried to poison John didn’t we?!, baptize, and other things.) People started saying that an Apostle before they died appointed them to be a replacement. So now they would have that authority. And supposedly power.
It was grifters come into the church. Some people even today call themselves Apostle this or Apostle that. Now we all have an encounter with Christ as He comes into our hearts but that’s not the same thing as Paul and the original Twelve. It sounds like a term to tell people you are important. Ephesus saw these goings on and said no to it. Nope you’re not an apostle, take your act somewhere else.
But despite all of this, doctrinal purity, hard work, perseverance, Jesus had one major course correction for them. They had lost their first love. They were just going through the motions. Like we said, auto pilot. They may have started off excited and passionate about God. But their walk with Jesus was more a chore now. A ritual. Something to check off a list. Have you ever felt that way?
Jesus offers some hope to them, somethings they can do to REVIVE what was there. They aren’t coming up with someting brand new they must first REMMEMBER how it was. REPENT of the attitude they held that wasn’t loving probably. And REPEAT what they had done at first.
If they don’t do these things, Jesus will put out their light. That sounds bad but think about a marriage. If you don’t love your spouse but are just going through the motions, don’t ever do anything loving, forget what drew you to them, you just might be putting out that light yourself!
The next church we’ll look at is Smyrna. That city had been established about 1,000 BC, destroyed in 600 BC and rebuilt some time later. The city would be a symbol of having died and come back to life. Hmmm… what might that mean later…?
It was considered the most beautiful of the Greek cities and was the center of Ceaser worship.
There’s no condemnation in this letter, just encouragement.
Christians were seen as unpatriotic and probably not appreciative. How dare they not bend the knee to Rome?
The tribulation they underwent is a term that means constant pressure.
Could sound like the song “under pressure” But also sounds Like they were pressed on every side. That sounds like
2 Corinthians 4:8-9New International Version8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
They would be poor because no one is giving them a job.
Persecuted by syncretism’s that are emperor worshippers first, fake Jews later.
Here we get a guidebook on how to survive this kind of thing. be fearless and faithful. Don’t fear the specific things about to face and stay true to their faithfulness to the end.
Remember we said the resurrected city would come back up? Jesus says He is the true First and Last the resurrected.
The next church we’ll discuss, and the last for tonight is Pergamum. It’s the church in Satan’s city Jesus tells us. If it’s charting a course on that sea what do you think might happen to the church? Hopefully they change the culture around them. But if they’re not careful the culture can change them.
How many think the church is sometimes more changed by the culture than they are changers of the culture?
Pergamum was the capital of Rome in Asia and had the worlds second best library, behind Alexandria in Egypt. So they have the brains and authority. Now what does Jesus say, what attribute of Himself does He match up with this?
12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.
So Jesus presents the word of truth from His mouth. Despite all the authority they can muster, the one with ultimate authority steps up and offers them truth as opposed to their lies.
Imagine the school body government, a class president has decided how best to run the school, says he’s smarter than all those teachers. Teacher leave us kids alone, all that sort of thing. And he’s got some authority among his peers, until a teacher walks in and simply says no. No - we’re not doing any of that. And suddenly all his rebellion looks pretty foolish.
They had a huge altar to Zeus that from a distance looked like a throne. That’s probably what Jesus is referring to. Yall think it’s Zeus, it’s just the devil by another name.
They worshipped one particular god named Asclepius who was associated with healing and was called the Savior. When someone was sick, instead of a hospital you took them to one of his temples. He had this symbol that became associated with medicine, a snake coiled around a rod. We’ve never seen anything like that associated with medicine right? Hmmm…
The church had not given up on Jesus. That’s a good thing. But some of them held various conflicting beliefs. Sometimes when I’m driving I see people take what I call a buffet approach to driving. They want to take a little bit of their lane and a little bit of my lane. I’m a little selfish I admit, I want the vehicle with it’s headlights bearing down on me to NOT enter my lane but stay in their own. These people were having a little bit of Jesus but also some Balaam or Nicolations on the side.
From Balaam they got corruption of their purity.
From Nicolations they got division between priests and laity.
Jesus is saying with the hidden manna you can’t eat at their table and His. You have to pick onee. But only Jesus’ table has the hidden manna which can sustain you.
As most of the material in Chapter 3 we had already covered in the first two chapters, we spent most of our time studying Revelation 1.
We spent some time in chapter 3 of the "Escape" book on the paragraph beginning "the golden sash across His chest" as David Jeremiah breaks down the symbolism.
Chapter 4 is next reading up through the first three churches, we will cover the last four in another session.
Last time we talked about:
““But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”
Matthew 24:36-39 NIV
“While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly …” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
The use of symbolism to arouse emotion, stand timeless and across cultures, and an excellent way to pass a coded message past Roman prison guards going through the mail coming out of Patmos. We all have an intuitive sense of symbolism. Think of a Hallmark movie. The rich guy is the love interest that won't work but the average Joe is the hero/romantic interest. When it snows, the protagonists will fall in love. When the music changes, we know what it means. A Jewish audience would get the symbols in this apocalyptic literature in a way a Roman guard would not.
We broke down the number 7 as completeness and perfection
From the book:
The seven stars as angels / messengers / the Pastors of those churches
The seven lampstands = the seven churches influence
The seven lamps are the sevenfold Spirit of God which is not 7 pieces or personalities but just to say that God is perfect in His being. Seven here is not a quantity of God but a statement of His perfection that 7 symbolizes.
This chapter discusses 7 blessings in reading Revelation (which we read) and the last page of the chapter discusses the benefits of being an overcomer (which we read but won't break copyright by posting here)
We have a church meal coming up and will discuss chapter 3 on March 15th