Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Time for a bit of a Geography Lesson First

We have all seen the many depictions of what some might imagine Jesus to look like, but isn't it interesting that out of the writers in the New Testament, not one of them happened to mention what Jesus looked like? NOT ONE! Except in the Book of Revelation in Chapter 1.

It is here we get the only description written as to what Jesus looks like. The Bible tells us more than 500 times in the Bible that Jesus is coming back again and that in 1 out of every 25 verses in the New Testament refer to the Second Coming of Jesus. This gives us hope in a hopeless world, that Jesus is who He said He is, and He will be coming back to us in his glorious Second Coming.

So what does it mean that Jesus is coming in the clouds from verse 7, in Revelation 1? "Behold, He is coming with clouds and every eye will see Him." It means He is coming again in the sky and the air. Jesus also said in Matthew 24:27, ~ "For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man." (NIV).

The description we see of Jesus Christ in the Book of Revelation is s culmination of  all the rest of the books of the Bible in their unveiling of who Jesus Christ is. It is at this stage we see Jesus in His glory, in His resurrected state and strength, as the Son of God, in his righteousness. That when we see Him, his face is like the sun, in full strength.

Now that it is summer it is easy to understand the strength and power of the sun. How it can get extremely hot. The interesting thing to note is that for Christians, this is as hot as it will ever get for us. Heaven will be perfect. It's hot because the sun is shining in its full strength. The Scriptures state that when we attempt to look upon the face of Jesus, it will be in its full strength, brighter, and stronger than if we were to attempt to look at our own sun.

The scriptures tell us that looking into His eyes, they are like flames of fire, speaking of his righteousness. He has a brilliant white beard, shining, draped in white linen with bands of gold across his chest and His feet are polished like brass. He is awesome!!! This is the Jesus Christ in His resurrected glory.

In Revelation 1:4, "John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne." (NIV).

This is taking place from God's view. We have John, Christ, God and angels referenced in this verse alone. We must first consider God's accounting. When it states, "John, to the seven churches" we know that there were more than 7 churches during 70 A.D. So why is the letter written to only 7 churches. When you look at those 7 churches geographically, it is encompassing the region of Christianity at that time. These are the 7 in an oval, the bulk of the churches that existed at that time remained in that circle. The number 7 appears in the Bible more than any other number. In the Book of Revelation, the number 7 appears 54 times. The number 7 in both Greek and Hebrew has a numerical value. It has spoken of God's completion or totality. The number 8 according to God is the number of new beginnings and there is a long list of those numbers and what they mean according to those who study those things in relation to the Bible.

We are confronted with the number 7 in relationship to the churches and it grabs our attention because there were more than seven churches at that time. Not only does the number 7 represent the number of real churches at that time, because each of the churches mentioned were real in that time, but there are a reference to the types of heart of those that are religious who have a relationship with God. These churches relate to the churches of the church age. We can see some of these qualities in the lives of believers, but we will save that for when we get into the letters to the seven churches later in our study.

So back to the number 7, and this is referring to the completion or totality of the churches from God's accounting. It is interesting that it is addressed to the churches seven times beginning in Revelation 2:7, ~"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the seven churches."  You can find all seven references in Revelation 2:11, 17, 29, 3:6, 3:13, and 3:22. The Spirit here is the Holy Spirit, don't approach the Bible with a gunshot mentality, like Russian roulette, we can't get anything out of the Bible like that. We need to pray that when we open for example John 1, we ask God to speak to us while we read. Write down in your Bible or notebook what He has revealed to You in your daily reading. You know what the Spirit is saying to you, because You are the Church. If you have never heard God speak, you aren't waiting on Him with your Bible open. Ask God, "Lord, speak to me." The Holy Spirit, speaks to those who have ears, so ask for God to give you ears to hear.

God's geography, Asia isn't the continent of Asia but Asia Minor. The churches are found in what is today, as Turkey in modern times. It once had a strong Christian base before the spread of Islam but it does still retain Christian foundations and it will be prominent in the end times as Turkey has a role to play.

In John 10:16 ~ "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." (NIV).

We know that the one shepherd referred to here is Jesus Christ. He was speaking to the Jewish nation first, to the nation of Israel first, but they rejected it. It wasn't until Acts that we learn that they turned to the Gentiles to preach the Word of Christ. We were grafted in. Gentiles simply mean non Jewish. If you are not Jewish, you are Gentiles. But because the Jewish people rejected the gospel, in Romans, it was offered to the Gentiles. We were grafted in like wild olive branches, we were aliens in this world, grafted into the root of Christ. But let us not get cocky like Gentiles trying to rub it in the Jew's faces that they rejected it. See Romans 9-11. Israel is the tree, and we humbly accept Jesus' sacrifice to us, otherwise we would be left out. Be thankful for that.

 God has done this all around the world. Where the gospel is preached, people accept it and a church is formed and it flourishes. It began in Asia Minor however. Now we look at God's nature, who he is at all times. " who is, and who was, and who is to come." God never changes. He is the same forever. "Grace to you", is the good news for us.

God's grace in the Greek means charis or khar'ece, which means the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life, making one acceptable, bestowing benefits, applying favor, the giving of gifts, having pleasure in, favoring someone = to the divine degree.

God does all of this for us that believe in Him. Being the object of God's affection, like you are the only one! He loves us all the same, despite what we might think. It's because of His grace upon us, He has targeted us with His favor. But he speaks to us, like we are the only one. He has put His favor and divine grace upon you. Don't you want to be the object of God's affection? If we do that, it will be white knuckle ride until God calls us home. When God is allowed to do His work in our life, things work perfectly but too often WE get in the way. We are a lot like Pepe LePew affection for the cat, we are the cat with the strip down our back. God is like that love, and we keep pushing him away.

Tomorrow we will continue our study into the Book of Revelation a bit more in-depth with more of Revelation 1:4. I hope this study is blessing you and you have a desire to know more. Remember, ask God to speak to You as you read through this with me and hope that you can a much deeper understanding of who Jesus Christ truly is.  I am taking this book slow because there is so much more than simply reading through 22 chapters in this book. I hope you'll stay with me and it blesses your life immensely!

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