Numbers 3

Vs. 1, “This is the account of the family of Aaron and Moses at the time the Lord spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai.”  In the next two chapters, we are given insight to the Levites and why they were not counted into the military census in our previous chapters.  The LORD would use the Levite firstborn males as a satisfactory fulfillment of requiring all firstborn males to be sacrificed; this prevented all the Israelites from having to sacrifice their firstborn males sons not only physically but also devoting a lifelong service to God (vs. 11-13).  The Levite tribe would take upon this task.  Their were three sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.  Each tribe was given different responsibilities to the caretaking of the tabernacle (vs. 21-37).  The Lord in his organized and exact ways goes into detail about how each male firstborn from the other tribes is to account for the number of Levites (vs. 40-43).  But the total firstborn from the tribes vs. the number of Levites exceeds by 273.  So, God ensures that any excess be redeemed by five shekels apiece (vs. 44-51).

Regarding application…God Redeems.  Vs. 51, “Moses gave the redemption money to Aaron and his sons, as he was commanded by the word of the Lord.”  I realize this is not an easy chapter to understand.  But this application to our lives is huge!  We can look back to Passover  (Exodus 13) as God’s process of redeeming us and than requiring a right sacrifice.  Though the Egyptians lost their firstborn, the Israelites did not because of the lamb’s blood.  Yet, there needed still needed to be sacrifice.  It’s not coincidence that on Passover week, Jesus was sacrificed as a payment for our sins.  God is redeeming us.  Though He no longer requires us to set aside a family member for service, we are to follow the example of Jesus.  The more we live a life of service for God, the more we can be a reminder to a lost world that God redeems.

Revelation 22

Vs. 7, “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”  Crystal Lewis sang that wonderful song People Get Ready that reminds us Jesus is coming soon.  A climatic and fitting end, not only the book of Revelation but the whole Bible!  Notice, that Jesus is coming soon but there is an addition; He is coming to judge us according to our deeds.  Certainly, this doesn’t mean that if we are saved our lack of good deeds will negate salvation.  Bear in mind, we will be accountable for our deeds good or otherwise.  But the more striking fact is that Jesus is the one who will judge.  This puts him on par with God and is again John’s way of reminding us the deity of Christ.  John ensures to remind us that the testimony of Jesus (vs. 16), himself (vs. 8) and the Spirit and the bride (vs. 17) are all witnesses to the testimony of God’s word to us.  Our part is to be ready and not live impure lives (vs. 12-15).

Regarding application…Open Call.  Vs. 17, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”  Our Father in heaven has given us an open call and encouragement to come.  Jesus calls us to Himself, but the Holy Spirit and the bride (which is the church) are all included in this open call to a world that is lost.  When we love and share our lives to a world that is lost, we are beckoning a world to Jesus.  I exhorted the members of Roots Ministry today to “Share Your Life” with others.  Question: What can you do this week to herald the Good News?

Revelation 21

Vs. 1, “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”  What a wonderful hope we have for our future!  The promise of a new heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22) now will come to fruition.  Question: Can you imagine a place with no more tears, death, mourning, crying or pain (vs. 4)?  This is the place where those who softened their heart and put all trust in the Savior will reside, and quite a comparison to those who do not (vs. 6-8).  The bride of Christ (the church) is the new city Jerusalem.  We see the combining of the OT saints to the church with the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles (vs. 11-14).  In other words, the faithful will have an eternal reunion!  As John takes his measuring rod, we should be stunned by the size and of the new heavens (vs. 15-21).  Think about it; 12,000 stadia is equivalent to 1500 miles long, wide and the kicker, tall!  That’s a gargantuan new heavens!  The beauty will take our breath away because it will reflect the glory of God.  It’s quite notable that there is no specific temple (vs. 22), for the whole place is the temple of God.  There will be no need for the sun or moon, for God’s glory will provide the light (vs. 23-24).

Regarding application…God Dwells with Us.  Vs. 3, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”  Jesus is called Immanuel (God with us) and now we literally will have God dwell physically with us again (Garden of Eden).  While we find much comfort in the promised Holy Spirit, dwelling with God in the new heavens and earth is going to be amazing!  I think back to my young childhood on those scary nights where the darkness would seem to overwhelm me.  The noises and sounds of the wind would cause me to run to my mom’s room and beg her to sleep in her bed that night.  The safety I felt like a child was wonderful, but imagine brothers and sisters that it will be incredibly amplified when we are finally dwelling with our God!

Revelation 20

Vs. 2, “He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.”  The thousand years interpretation have come down to two main camps: premillennialists and amillennialists.  Premillennialists adhere to a literal thousand years reign of Christ on earth while the amillennialists look at it as more symbolic.  There is biblical support for both and it can get tricky because the structure of understanding of Revelation is affected with either interpretation.  I adhere to the premillennial camp and look to the order of Revelation like this: 7 year Tribulation, Beast and False prophet put into the lake of fire after the war of Armageddon, Satan bound for a thousand years and during this time Christ physically reigns on earth with those who lived during the Tribulation and the dead in Christ will rise (vs. 4) and reign with Christ at this time.  Than at the end of the thousand years, Satan will be unleashed one last time (vs. 7-10) and makes a revolt but loses.  At this time, we are given the scene of the great white throne (vs. 11-15) where all unbelievers will be judged and the book of life opened.  Bear in mind, believers are not judged at the great white throne, rather they stand before God at the judgment seat (Romans 14:10, II Corinthians 5:10).

Regarding application…Being Deceived.  Vs. 8, “and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.”  It’s hard to conceive this.  It’s important to bear in mind those who are being deceived by Satan at the end of the thousand years are those who lived with Christ, some up to a thousand years.  Remember that at the war of Armageddon, the unbelievers were destroyed (Revelation 19:21).  Yet, even without Satan’s influence for a thousand years, we see the depravity of sin nature.  There are two different people, those who were resurrected with Christ and those who continued to live during the thousand years.  Sadly, there will be those who will lead a final revolt with Satan (vs. 7-10).  This is quite humbling for all of us as we remember how important it is to not be deceived by the lies of the enemy.  Question: Are there any lies you are believing in today?

Revelation 19

Vs. 1, “After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.”  In our previous chapter, there was much lamenting over the ruin over Babylon’s fall.  In the first section of our chapter we see the prostitute compared to the bride (vs. 1-10).  Heaven celebrates God’s righteous judgment over the prostitute (see notes in previous chapter) and now we see the bride.  Question: Who is the bride?  The bride is the church (us), and she is getting herself ready (vs. 7-8) by her righteous acts.  This scene overwhelms John and he bows down to the messenger (vs. 10), but the angel reminds us the messenger is but a servant of the Lord (vs. 10).  We then see the scene shift a person named Faithful and True on a white horse (vs. 11-21).  Question: Who is the rider named Faithful and True?  The rider is Jesus!  Earlier, in Revelation 13, the followers of the beast boastfully challenged God by saying, “Who can wage war against it?”  The time has come to answer the arrogance of the wicked.  The vivid description of Jesus on the white horse reminds all of us that who He really is (vs. 11-16).  Jesus defeats the beast (antichrist) and the false prophet and casts them into the fiery lake of burning sulfur (vs. 20) –

Regarding application…Empowered by the Spirit.  Vs. 10, “At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”  The angel reminds us the extraordinary power of the Spirit of God.  It’s the same Spirit that came upon believes in Acts 2.  Some of us may be familiar with stories of mom’s literally picking up cars to rescue their children from a car wreck.  Science tells us that it is a rush of adrenaline that empowers the body to do something extraordinary.  The Holy Spirit is sort of like that.  God can take a normal person filled with flaws and use them mightily for His kingdom.  Question: How can God use and empower you today?

Revelation 18

Vs. 2, “With a mighty voice he shouted:“‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’ She has become a dwelling for demons and a haunt for every impure spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal.”  John goes into a lament that pronounces judgment (vs. 1-8).  However, this is not a lament of sadness, but one of good news for it would be the demise of the enemy.  John would recall the words of the prophet Isaiah (21:9) and repeated himself earlier from chapter 14.  As you may recall from our earlier chapters, Babylon (code word for Rome) represents the world system.  We see the economic and political downturn as God brings judgment upon the world that valued the things of pleasure.  In the next portion of our chapter (vs. 9-19), we are given insight into the laments of the kings of the earth and the merchants who benefited from the world system.  I imagine the stock market plummeting and everyone losing their wealth.  And lastly (vs. 19-24), we see a contrast of weeping by the world versus rejoicing.  Judgment has come to a world that is filled with evil.

Regarding application…Value of Wealth.  Vs. 9, “When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her.”  In the present, wealth seems to be valued so much.  Yet, we know wealth does not fill the true voids in our lives. Wealth can be taken away instantly; the stock market can plummet, our houses can get destroyed by a natural disaster, our money/possessions stolen.  We are reminded from Jesus, “for where your treasure is, there you heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).  Question: What is valuable to you?  Be wise in what you invest in this life, for we have poignantly been reminded that all of this will be destroyed.

Revelation 17

Vs. 1, “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters.”  Question: Who is this prostitute?  As mentioned before, Babylon was a term they used for the rule of Rome during John’s time.  While some scholars believe it refers to actual Babylon, the meaning is more important; the prostitute represents the world system.  It is a stark contrast from Jerusalem (the bride) to Babylon (the prostitute).  Along with the kings and the beast (vs. 2-3), the prostitute (Rome) is shown here drunk with the blood of Christian martyrs (vs. 6).   It truly an astonishing scene, so it is not surprising to read of John’s response (vs. 6).  There are differing interpretations of the beast and the kings (vs. 7-18).  Some say the beast and king Nero and Rome, while others point to actual seven kingdoms and the antichrist.  The ten horns (ten kings) come from Daniel’s vision (Daniel 7), which some scholars believe is pointing to an alliance of kings/nations who will support the antichrist.  However, the King of kings will overpower and be victorious (vs. 14)!  In the end, we are reminded through the angel that God had purposed all of this even before creation (vs. 15-18).

Regarding application…We Will Win.  Vs. 14, “They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”  As former NFL coach Herman Edwards states, “You play to win the game.”  As Christians we have the confidence to know that we will win.  If life were a physical contact sport; we are going to get hurt, disappointed, and may even have a season/career ending injury.  But, our team is not going to lose.  As they say, there is no “I” in team, so let us remember the amazing support of our church families.  Church is family and a team that we are a part of.  Let’s continue to fight the good fight!

Revelation 16

Vs. 1, “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”  Evil has increased and so like the trumpets, we see God dispense the seven bowls.  These plagues remind us of the plagues that happened in Exodus 16.  For the believers, the plagues remind them that God has not forgotten; just as God protected the people in Goshen during Moses’ time, God will preserve the believing remnant.  The dragon, beast and false prophet (vs. 13), make up their own unholy trinity.  While the enemy knows they will lose, they gather their forces together to battle at Armageddon (vs. 16).  Armageddon is the site where the battle will end.  Armageddon means “Mount Meggido,” which is the location of some significant battles in biblical history.  While Babylon could certainly be a city (some scholars point to Rome), it could also represent the world system (vs. 17-21)

Regarding application…Cursing God.  Vs. 21, “From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.”  This is third time in this chapter that we are told the world refused to repent and cursed God because of the seven bowl plagues.  Question: How do you respond when trials come your way?  Much like Pharaoh, they will harden their hearts and curse God.  Brothers and sisters, let us not allow the cynical and jaded world affect our own response to God.  There will always be those who have excuses and hatred towards the Lord.  Until final judgment comes, all we can do is pray and be a loving example of Christ.  It is not our place to judge the world, for that is reserved to God alone.

Revelation 15

Vs. 1, “I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed.”  The reference to “last” encompasses not just the seven plagues, rather all of judgment at this Revelation time.  The same believers who stood with the Lamb (144,000) are also here indicating that we now see how they are going to be victorious from our previous chapter.  The song they sing (vs. 3-4) is reminiscent of the song the Israelites sang in Exodus 15.  The seven bowls of wrath will be covered in the following chapter.  It’s important to be reminded that the smoke represents God and His authority over the wrath to come.

Regarding application…Wrath of God.  Vs. 7, “Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever.”  While both humans and God can express wrath, it is God’s wrath that is just.  Question: Why wrath?  It is God’s direct opposition to sin and evil (Holman’s Bible Dictionary).  This is not an easy concept to swallow and many harden their hearts to this reality.  One thing to bear in mind that if there was not wrath, there would be no need for salvation.  Jesus never would have had to come.  This is pretty humbling and we should not be so quick to misunderstand the wrath of God.  Thank the Lord Jesus for His grace upon us!

Revelation 14

Vs. 1, “Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.”  We read of these 144,000 in chapter seven.  There are differing thoughts on who this 144,000 could be.  Some scholars believe it is a literal Jewish remnant living during the time of Tribulation, while others believe it is more symbolic of all believers who did not adulterate themselves to the devil.  It is quite a scene as the army of believers stand with Jesus and sing a new song (vs. 1-5).  John now turns to several scenes of angles bringing their messages.  The first angel brings an announcement more for those who are believers rather than the unrepentant, for humans were to be agents of the Gospel (vs. 6-7).  The announcement of doom upon Babylon probably a code word for Rome, which in turn is really a message against the world and the enemy (vs. 8).  The third announcement is to those who follow the beast (vs. 9-13).  And lastly, the latter portion of our chapter shows us that the harvest is ripe (vs. 14-20).   God calls for the sickle to gather the ripe harvest of grain and of grapes for judgment.

Regarding application…Judgment is Coming.  Vs. 7, “He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”  Certainly, there is a bit of an ominous feeling to this.  However, for Christians, this reminder is actually one of hope!  This is a crazy sin-filled world we live in.  This reminder should bring great relief to know God is ready to bring a righteous judgment.  Just like kids when traveling will ask their parents, “Are we there yet?” God is reminding us that we are arriving soon.  Don’t lose hope, for our travels will finally get us to our true home!