49. Your destiny is written

The world today has more information available at our fingertips than ever in history. Google has become a verb. A verb is the active word in a sentence, the word that works and Google works hard. Just “google” it – one would say, to remember the movie name that slipped your mind, the synonym that you cannot think of right now, the third British monarch after Cromwell – I mean, whatever you want to know – somebody has written it down and made it available on the cloud of information covering our earth today. We have instant access to so much.

I would like to make a daring statement and say: Revelation is the google that matters most deeply to us. It is the true information we need to survive, to be encouraged and to be victorious in our everyday life. It is the wealth of information, written down over two thousand years ago that explains our world and describes our future. It is a most unique piece of literature dictated by the Author, Jesus and written down by the author, John.

We read Revelation 5 and “see” with John the triumphant entry of Jesus in heaven after His death on the cross. In the right hand of God, symbol of authority and power, is the scroll of history, written on the back and the front. Nothing is to be added; it is complete and sealed.

In Roman law only the last will and testament of a person was sealed with seven seals, one for each witness. All the witnesses had to be present when the seals were broken and the will read. Ordinary documents had only one seal. In this case we have a most special document: the scroll of the entire history of mankind. It contains the God-ordained redemptive plan of God in Jesus Christ now revealed in victorious consummation, with seven seals that represent the consequences of sin and disobedience.

No creature, celestial of earthly, is worthy to execute God’s plan for the “fullness of times”.

He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, with regard to the fulfillment of the times [that is, the end of history, the climax of the ages]—to bring all things together in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. (Ephesians 1:9,10, Ampl)

This is earth’s tragedy. None is worthy and therefore John is weeping. The promise of the Anointed One has often been a source of frustration and disappointment. Shattered expectations followed many an impostor who falsely claimed the position. Deep sorrow and longing for the promise are repeatedly addressed in the prophets of old.

Surely the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret plan [of the judgment to come] to His servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7) –

Inside the vision is the point of receiving. Outsiders will receive nothing. They live in ignorance and confusion according to Ephesians 4:17,18:

So this I say, and solemnly affirm together with the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the [unbelieving] Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds [and in the foolishness and emptiness of their souls], 18 for their [moral] understanding is darkened and their reasoning is clouded; [they are] alienated and self-banished from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the [willful] ignorance and spiritual blindness that is [deep-seated] within them, because of the hardness and insensitivity of their heart.

This is truly the best description of a life without God and the image of post-modern man with whom we contend daily in the spiritual realm. To me it is a frightening state of living to be a prisoner of. It is a life with no true knowledge and no insight in what is happening around us. For John the unworthiness of creation in a state of sin, is overwhelming, but…

There is comfort for the desperate cry of unworthiness in the godly Plan. One of the elders, in other words, the church has the knowledge of Jesus, the solution to all. Jesus’ own soothing words to so many were: “do not weep”, speaking consolation to aching hearts and broken lives. We, the church, are the haven of sympathy and reassurance in the confusion and destruction of the world.

Human grief is born of insufficient knowledge and lack of vision. Do we lack patience, endurance and trust to wait for the promise of outcome and victory in our life today? Jesus is worthy to know God’s secrets, to reveal and control God’s secrets. He takes the scroll of our destiny and is worthy to work it out. Take heart! We are in the hands of the Worthy One. There is no better place to be!

Christ is introduced as the Lion of Judah as in Matthew 1 so that every Israelite would know He is the One they expected.

Then a Shoot (the Messiah) will spring from the stock of Jesse [David’s father], and a Branch from his roots will bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1)

He will combine power and goodness. (Jeremiah 23:5, Zechariah 3:8.)

Instead of the expected Lion, John saw a Lamb as though slain, but alive. Just to think that Jesus is bearing His scars also in heaven in the throne room of the Most High. God’s purpose is fulfilled. His death was no accidental death. It was death with a purpose: to rescue all of mankind with no limits. His life and death always have been and always will be all-inclusive.

The seven horns depict full authority, infinite power, omnipotence and honour. (Psalm 89:17,112:9, 148:14.) Since the desert Tabernacle the priest put the blood of redemption on the horns of the altar.

The priest shall also put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense, which is before the Lord in the Tent of Meeting. (Leviticus 4:7,18, 25)

The blood is the saving power, to redeem from sin and pay the debt that we can never pay. In ancient Israel people in desperate flight grabbed hold of the horns of the altar to escape the death penalty. (1 Kings 1:50 and 2:28)

The seven eyes depict complete knowledge, wisdom, insight and counsel. (Isaiah 11:2)

In Daniel 7: 9-14 he describes the Ancient of Days in whose presence the books are opened.

The Lamb is the centre of the scene. Jesus is named in this manner 29 times in the Bible. Isaiah (53:7) and Jeremiah (11:19) describe Him as looking like a lamb being led to slaughter.

Worship is the response to this magnificent scene of all creatures, the elders and our prayers. Incense is the symbol of prayer.

A new song is sung. It is new in quality as it was never heard before.

(Psalm 33:3, 40:3, 98:1, 144:9, 149:1, Isaiah 42:1-13)

Once again we need to place ourselves outside the limitations of time. This grand and glorious event is happening in the unseen. Our prayers together with the saints of all times are in the throne room at this moment.

We are the kings and priests to reign, now. Our intercession, spiritual war and walk with God rule the earth. Our witness is the effective barrier against complete destruction. We hold back evil and at the same time raid hell to harvest the souls of men for Jesus. 1 Peter 2:9:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

 The numbers of Revelation are symbolical of endlessness and innumerable things (5:11). Only God can do this type of calculation. It is always more than enough; more than needed. He is El Shaddai – the God of plenty.

Every creature is every possible being. As Paul said: every knee shall bow. (Philippians 2:10) Every living creature joins the cosmic chorus to praise the countless attributes of God forever. All of history moves towards the point of ultimate recognition of the Lordship of Jesus. Everybody says AMEN – it is true.

It is the greatest chorus ever. Creation is designed to praise Jesus. The elders have harps. It is an instrument easily recognizable as part of the traditional music in the Psalms. (147:7)

The golden bowls of incense are the prayers of the saints – that’s us. Psalm 141:2: Let my prayer be counted as incense before You; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.

Our prayers are directly before God. There is no intermediary necessary. The door to God is open. We have access through the Blood.

We can sing:

“Worthy and deserving is the Lamb that was sacrificed to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb (Christ), be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

 

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48. After the Cross – the Lion and the Lamb.

Our heavenly journey continues. It is sometimes complicated to think ourselves out of time. I struggle to grasp the full implication of God’s perspective outside our “prison” of time. He sees all of history in one moment, our birth and death and whole life in between. I have often thought that this single feature of God, comprehended in its fullness, will boost my faith and trust in our loving Father to reign supreme over every aspect of my life till the day of my death. Knowing He sees and controls my destiny “abounding in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34) guarantees my victory in all things to end well.

Nowhere is the time perspective more obvious than in Revelation 5. God takes the scroll from the angel in His right hand, the symbol of power and authority. The scroll is all of history, written on the front and back, in other words fully ordained with nothing to be added or taken away – complete and sealed. It contains the God proclaimed redemptive plan of God in Jesus Christ now revealed in victorious consummation, with seven seals that represent the consequences of sin and disobedience.

In Roman law, only the last will and testament was sealed with seven seals – one for each witness. All witnesses were to be present when the seals were broken and the will read. Ordinary documents had only one seal.

No creature, celestial of earthly, is worthy to execute God’s plan for the “fullness of times”. This is earth’s tragedy, therefore John wept.

He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment–to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

(Ephesians 1:9,10, NIV)

John gets the impression that the promise of a worthy One is frustrated, and gets a sense of deep sorrow.

Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7, NIV)

God reveals His secrets to the prophets throughout all time, also today. Inside the vision is the point of receiving for those who guard their insight and anointing to “see” into unseen. Outsiders will receive nothing. It is a life of ignorance and confusion. (Ephesians 4:18)

There is comfort for weeping and sorrow in the Plan. One of the elders comforts John. The church has the knowledge of Jesus, the solution to all. The church should be the comfort and the vehicle of insight to see the One and reveal Him as the solution to history and the consequences of sin contained in the seven seals. Jesus’ own words to so many were: Do not weep. He speaks comfort and rest over a battered and broken world.

Human grief is born in insufficient knowledge and a lack of vision.

Do we lack patience, endurance and trust? Jesus is worthy to know God’s secrets. He is the key to the revelation of God’s secrets. Only in Him is the fullness of knowledge and understanding of what is happening in our world.

Christ is introduced as the Lion of Judah just as Matthew 1 establishes Jesus’ genealogy as the true Messiah from the root of David. (Isaiah 11:1) Jesse’s offspring would combine power and goodness. (Jeremiah 23:5, Zechariah 3:8)

Instead of the expected Lion, John sees a Lamb as though slain, but alive, bearing His scars also in heaven on the Throne of the Most High. God’s purpose is fulfilled. The death of Jesus was no accident of history. It was death with a purpose, to rescue the entire universe. There are no limits. It is all-inclusive and will always be.

The seven horns depict full authority, omnipotence and honour. (Psalm 89:17,112:9, 148:14) The priest put the blood of the sacrificial animal on the horns of the altar. (Leviticus 4:7,18, 25). It speaks of redemption. One could also grab hold of the horns of the altar to save one’s life when persecuted. (1 Kings 1:50/ 2:28)

The seven eyes depict full knowledge, wisdom, insight and counsel as promised in Isaiah 11:2 – characteristics of the Messiah. He takes the scroll exactly as described in Daniel 7: 9-14. Daniel calls Him the Ancient of days.

The Lamb is the centre of the scene. Jesus is called the Lamb of God 29 times in the Bible. In Isaiah (53:7) and Jeremiah (11:19) they see Jesus prophetically like a lamb led to slaughter.

Worship is the reaction to His triumphant entry into heaven after the victory on the Cross. The Cross stands at the centre of history. Years of earthly time after the Cross, John sees Christ’s entry into heaven to take the scroll of destiny in His hand, since the Cross made Him worthy to roll out God’s plan of redemption for mankind. Also for us, only the Cross makes us worthy of our destiny of redemption from sin.

Jesus stands before the Throne as the first fruits of the church. In John 20:17 Jesus says to Mary Magdalene:

 “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’

In Revelation 5 John sees Jesus’ ascension to His Father as triumphant over death and glorified in the ultimate victory over sin and destruction. This is the moment when all of creation knows He is worthy to take the scroll. After this Jesus returned and appeared to many, also to Thomas who was allowed to touch Him.

All creatures, elders and the saints worship the Lamb as worthy to control destiny. This scripture is one of the spiritual pillars in my life.

It is thrilling to imagine the Throne room of heaven and the altar of incense, which depicts worship and prayer. My prayer is in that golden bowl before the Throne of God. Rejoice, Pebble pals!! The prayers of the saints are in that bowl. We have already said that we are saints, made righteous by the Cross.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9)

There is no such thing as unanswered prayer. God hears ALL prayers. We proclaim the praises of our Jesus together with the hosts of heaven. Whatever bears down on your heart this day, proclaim the Lamb of heaven and praise Him in chorus with all the angels. Bring your circumstances and heavy heart to the Throne room and “see” yourself in the golden bowl before the Throne.

Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2)

Our prayers are directly before God. There is no intermediary necessary. The door to God is open. Jesus says this to Mary Magdalene as the most important message to His disciples – My God and your God and My Father and your Father. We have access through the Blood of the Lamb. We pray in the name of Jesus, which He gave to us. (John 16:26) We do not pray through any other mediator.

Let us sing the new song. It is new in quality; it was never heard before. (Psalm 33:3, 40:3, 98:1, 144:9, 149:1, Isaiah 42:1-13) It is UNIQUE and it is happening NOW.

[New could mean: neos – more of the same depicting quantity as in a new pencil but many others already exist or:  kainos – unique, has never been, depicting quality as in one of a kind.]

The kings and priests to reign are the saints of God to rule over the earth through our intercession, spiritual war and walk with God. Our witness is the effective barrier against complete destruction. The presence of the church holds back evil. (1 Peter 2:9)

The numbers of Revelation are symbolical of endless and countless multitudes (5:11). Only God can do this type of calculation. It is always more than enough; more than needed.

He is El Shaddai – the God of plenty.

Every creature is every possible being. Every knee shall bow. (Philippians 2:10) All the multitudes join the cosmic chorus to praise every attribute of God forever. All history moves towards the point of ultimate recognition of the Lordship of Jesus. Everybody says AMEN – it is true.

It is the greatest chorus ever. Every created thing is designed to praise Jesus. The elders have harps. It was the traditional music in the Psalms.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;

Sing praises on the harp to our God, (Psalm 147:7)

 

 

 

47. Heaven is here.

There are so many movies and books with the word “heaven” in the title. In colloquial language it depicts a place of perfection and peace for one day after death, the ultimate Utopia, open for Christians only, and amongst a few Christians, maybe even accessible to some denominations only! The simple definition in Merriam Webster: the place where God lives and where good people go after they die according to some religions; something that is very pleasant or good, sums up our first response to a query about heaven.

In the full definition we might come closer to more concepts attached to the word: the expanse of space that seems to be over the earth like a dome; the dwelling place of the Deity and the blessed dead.

Just a little further in the same dictionary I found a very satisfactory definition of the heaven I think is real. Here it is:

a spiritual state of everlasting communion with God; a state of thought in which sin is absent and the harmony of divine Mind is manifest. In short: heaven is where God is and hell is where God is not.

We might think that heaven is a far place somewhere in this vast universe where all the splendour of Revelation is experienced. I think there is such a place. I also think heaven is right here where I cannot see, all the splendour displayed in the presence of God in my heart, my life and my mind, whenever I am so submitted to the Holy Spirit to “see” with my spirit. Just think for a moment where John was physically when he described the majesty and brilliance of the vision.

Roman prisons or prison colonies, like Patmos, were often the prelude to death and John is banned under the particularly cruel and crazy Dominitian. Miraculously, Nerva, the next emperor, recalls a great deal of Dominitian’s ridiculous laws and John survives to write his vision. He must have “felt” very far from heaven, and still experienced so much in his spirit.

In that moment, after hearing the commendations and the condemnations to the churches, John is called higher. He is called through an open door to heaven, not only a vast place of beauty, but particularly the Throne Room of the Most High. In his description he employs every image, symbol, metaphor, parable, known fable and superstition of the ancient world. For him it is of utmost importance to get the message through in simple, understandable language, at the same time not losing the overwhelming magnificence of the vision.

How many times are we besieged with stress and circumstances, feeling weighed down by this world. Listen to the call that John received: Come up here, and I will show you…

To be with God in His presence is the answer to a crushing, evil world, which seizes us into discouragement and despair.

A heavenly perspective lifts us up from confusion into communion. Praise and worship is vital in our prayers. It will lift us up to receive insight so that the things of the earth and our struggles grow “strangely dim” as the old song says.

Three doors are mentioned in these first chapters of Revelation:

  • Door of opportunity – to Philadelphia (3:8)
  • Door to the human heart – to Laodicea (3:20)
  • Door of prophetic revelation – (4:1) to reveal the knowledge of God. The heavens are opened to bring revelation through vision; to look into the unseen.

the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. (Ezekiel 1:1)

Jesus talked about the heavenlies in Matthew 18 and meant the unseen around us, not a far away place. Distance in the godly realm is a mystery, but God is never late, so distance does not matter. It is a non-issue. It might feel as if we are waiting long for prophecy to be fulfilled but our assurance from the Word is that is will come. The promise holds the people together and encouraged. (Habakkuk 2:2)

The heavens are opened for the descent of the Spirit just as it happened at the baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:10). The heavens are opened to reveal the glory of God just as it was promised to Nathanael in John 1:51.

God on the throne is mentioned in every chapter except 2,8 and 9. It was a common image in the Old Testament: 1 Kings 22:19, Psalm 47:8, Isaiah 6:1 and served as symbol of the majesty of God. The trumpet was always a call to attention that could not be ignored.

There is no attempt to describe God. He has no human shape. He is depicted with light as in Psalm 104:2 and 1 Timothy 6:15,16: He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.

The light is reflected in precious stones as mentioned in Ezekiel 28:13 and the precious stones of the breastplate of the high priest in Exodus 28:17. It is the foundation of the holy city in Revelation 21:19.

Jasper was translucent. It could be that the jasper is a diamond, bright and pure. Sardius is blood red, speaking of wrath and the green emerald is a symbol for mercy. It is the dominant colour of the rainbow, a sign of covenant promise and faithfulness.

There was once a testimony of a vision of heaven that said the colours have fragrance. It stayed with me. How much more is there to experience in countless dimensions and sharp, divinely enlightened senses?

The 24 thrones with elders depict the 12 tribes and the 12 apostles, the Jews and the church – clothed and crowned. Some commentators suggest it might be only the church and the apostles multiplied by the double anointing that is well known throughout Scripture.

Their white clothes is a symbol of robes washed in the blood of the Lamb in the colour of heaven and golden crowns that represent every precious blessing and victory in Christ.

Thunder and lightning are always associated with the majesty of God’s awesome wonder and power and associated with the presence of God. (Ezekiel 1:13, Psalm 77:18, Job 37:4. Exodus 19:16.)

The seven lamps are the seven Spirits. It speaks of the fullness of the Holy Spirit and completion of God’s purpose through His spirit.

Lamps of fire or torches were always the symbol of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2, Luke 3:16.) Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

The sea of glass is described as a crystal sea. In ancient times glass was usually dull. Clear glass was almost like precious stone. The combination of the concepts of the sea (vast and unconquered) plus crystal (clear, light and precious) describes God as unapproachable and distant in all His majesty to emphasize holiness. He is never familiar. (Exodus 24:10.)

Psalm 36:6: Your judgments are a great deep.

The living creatures are full of eyes, a richness of insight and watchfulness. They know everything, nothing is hidden.

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13

The four living creatures are described as cherubim (plural in Hebrew/ singular= cherub). They are the highest ranking celestial beings. Their wings cover the mercy seat in the Tabernacle and the Temple. It is no surprise to find them here at the Throne; in worship without ceasing. They have functions. They hand the bowls of wrath (15:7) to the angels.

They are symbols of: majestic courage (lion), strength (ox), intelligence (man), speed (eagle); noble, strong, wise and swift. All of nature and man comes together in praise to God. (Psalm 102:22)

Their being and working are all in praise of God. Worship is to live in obedience. All the time, everywhere, they exist to worship.

Some commentators see the symbolic emphasis of the four Gospels in these living creatures. In Matthew the emphasis on Jesus is as a descendent of the tribe of Judah as is represented in the genealogy in the first chapter – the lion. In Mark the emphasis is on the humanity of Jesus – the man. In Luke the focus is on the sacrificial death of Jesus – the ox and John is like no other in describing Jesus as the answer to the world in every way possible, addressing the philosophy and intelligentsia of the time. The eagle has a unique perspective and can look into the sun without blinking.

Worship is an awareness of who God is. His holiness, omnipotence and everlastingness always cast a new perspective in worship. It is when the elders rise from their knees, that they constantly see a new reason to worship, casting their crowns continually; submitting and relinquishing all that has value before God in full submission and total surrender.

It is only by Holy Spirit insight that – He can reveal to you personally what the crown is that you have to throw down – disobedience, holding on to treasure, ego, ambition, tradition, superstition…

A heavenly perspective in our life is a treasure worth holding on to. It changes our thinking, renews our minds and makes us strong.

Lord, that I may see you on your throne, ruling over my life from your majesty and splendour, the goodness of your character and the source of love.

What can man do to me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Record in Revelation is NOT chronological. It is a record of events.