Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Defeating Deception, Joshua 9


The good thing about bad guys that come in like a roaring lion, is that you know where they stand. They don’t hide who they are. They want to take you out, and they let you know it, beyond the shadow of a doubt.

That’s who we looked at last week. (Tricked and Triggered, Joshua 9:1-2).

Today we expose a worse kind of bad guy—the kind that looks good; the kind that uses deception, as a weapon.

When Jesus taught about the end times, he began by telling us to take heed that we be not deceived. Matthew 24:4.

So, we’re going to do just that, as we continue our Joshua saga, we’ll reveal five ways to defeat deception.

But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai,  they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors.

PRAY FOR DISCERNMENT

They heard.

All the –ites heard, what God had done, and sprang into action, (Joshua 9:1-2).

Now, Gibeon heard, and they too, took action.

The world may pretend to ignore, but they too, have heard. 

The Gibeonites are among those listed in Deuteronomy 7:1-2. Israel was to make no treaty with them, have no mercy on them, utterly destroy them; because their iniquity was full, as noted in Genesis 15:16.  

Gibeon heard what the Lord had done, and they…

Turned to Him and repented—

No, sorry, that’s not it.

They humbly acknowledged that the Lord is God in heaven above and earth beneath, like Rahab did, in Joshua 2:11.

Nope, they didn’t do that either.

They “worked craftily…”

Yes, unfortunately, that’s what they did.

Reminds us of ssssssomeone elssssse. In the Garden, the sssserpent, was more crafty than any beast of the field that the LORD God had made. Genesis 3:1.

Our first step to defeating deception is to proactively, preemptively, pray, for discernment. In a word: Preprayer.

Lord Jesus, we ask for discernment, to see beyond the deception, to The Truth, that sets us free. John 8:32. 

Gibeon heard, and hid. They knew their doom, felt their guilt. So, they dove for cover behind a mask, pretending to be something they’re not. They disguised themselves as ambassadors of goodwill (like the sssserpent). 2 Corinthians 11:14-15.

And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy.

EXAMINE THE FRUIT

Take a snapshot of them, standing there, dressed like homeless people, pretending to be ambassadors. Oldy and moldy—that’s the first thing the Israelites saw.

Hang on to that picture, we’ll need it in a minute.

But before we move on, it’s important to note another step in defeating deception. Examine the fruit. A detective might say, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

To defeat deception, we must separate fact from fiction and flattery, created by words.

Today's fruit, is resultant of yesterday's seed. Jesus tells us we can’t get good fruit from a bad tree, and vice versa. Matthew 7:18.

Inspecting fruit, is wisdom, not judgement, and goes a long way toward avoiding deception.



Now that we have a picture of the Gibeonites fruit, let’s hear what they have to say.

 And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.”

CONSIDER YOUR CALLING

Now we hear their explanation, and request.

The explanation is meant to open the door to the request. We’re not from around here, we’re not those folks you’re supposed to utterly destroy, so, let’s make a covenant.

That’s an outright lie; their home is only about twenty miles away.

Consider this:

Imagine a hobo shows up at your door and says, “Howdy, I wanna be yer financial adviser.” Or, at the door of Elon Musk, and says, “Hey man, let’s be business partners.” Or, oldy and moldy shows up from out of nowhere, gives you a toothless grin and says, “Hi there, honey, let’s get married.”

Just on the fruit alone, the proposal is preposterous.

However, what if it wasn’t? What if they really were from a far country and wanted to legitimately make a covenant with Israel?

That brings us to the next step in defeating deception: Consider Your Calling.

Even if everything they said were true. Israel’s God given calling, was to possess the Promise Land. Does becoming an ally, with a random country from far away, fit into that calling?

If that far away country gets attacked, is it within God’s calling for Israel to leave the Promise Land, and go fight in some far away land?

Today many are far from their calling, fighting wars they were never meant to, simply because they failed to consider their calling.

It’s nice to say, “Yes” when someone asks; but it isn’t always Godly.

To stay in His will, and defeat deception, we must always consider our calling before entering any covenant or agreement, no matter how nice, or good, or profitable, it looks.

Then the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you dwell among us; so how can we make a covenant with you?”

FOLLOW PEACE

BAM!

Right there in five short words, “Perhaps you dwell among us” the men of Israel expose the whole masquerade. Busted!

As Christians, when we are sensitive to the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit, we experience His peace. Philippians 4:6-7. On the other hand when we confront something contrary to His leading, we sense an uneasiness, a lack of peace. We may hear ourselves say, “I don’t have a peace about this.” Or, “Something doesn’t feel right.” Or, “I have a check in my spirit.”

This too, is the leading of the Spirit. Letting us know, this isn’t the way, don’t walk in it.

The first words out of the men of Israel’s mouth were right on target. That first instinct was correct. We ought to pay attention to it.

Which brings us to a powerful step in defeating deception: Follow Peace.  

But on paper it looks like such a good deal.

Doesn’t matter. Follow peace.

But (s)he’s so nice. so cute.

Looks are deceiving. Follow peace.

Yeah, but I can make a fortune.

Money sprouts wings. Follow peace.

Follow peace. follow peace. follow peace.   

Now the enemy will lay it on thick and use every trick in the book.

But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.”

They never answered the men who exposed them, but diverted to Joshua, with flattery. Oh dearest Josh, you’re our hero, the man in charge, we are your humble servants.

And Joshua said to them, “Who are you, and where do you come from?”

Joshua entertained them a little longer by continuing the conversation.

Like Eve did with the serpent.

So they said to him: “From a very far country your servants have come…

They still avoid answering the question, but simply add emphasis to the first lie, “From a very far country.” And of course, slather on some more buttery flattery.

 

 because of the name of the Lord your God; for we have heard of His fame,

Now, they name drop. Not just any name, but the Name above all names. They play the God card.

Dear Christians, we must pray for discernment, examine the fruit, consider our calling, follow peace, before, handing the keys to our house, our car, our heart, to someone, simply because they use the name of God.

Just because some celebrity say, “God bless you” to a sneeze, or, “Thank God” to an award, doesn’t mean they are Christians.

Jesus tells us that not everyone who says, Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 7:21.   

and all that He did in Egypt, 10 and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan—to Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth. 

Did you notice the omission of what triggered their action in the first place? They fail to mention Jericho and Ai. (Remember, our opening verse: Joshua 9:3-4a).

This sin of omission, was perhaps, because they thought it would give them away to mention cities overrun, this side of the Jordan.

But actually, it was just one more clue, that should’ve exposed their ruse.

11 Therefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say to them, “We are your servants; now therefore, make a covenant with us.” ’ 

If you know sales, you may recognize this, “everybody’s doing it” sales pitch. Everybody in our entire country is talking about you, want to hook up with you.

If you know your Bible, you may recognize this as the same old, ongoing, sin pitch, used by the devil. The lust of the flesh, the lust eyes, and the pride of life. 1 John 2:16.

Oh, and of course, for the third time, they plop another dollop of flattery, (“We are your servants”).

And then, like all good salesmen, they go in again, for the close.  

Just sign right here on the dotted line, and you will drive away in your brand-new, bright, and shiny, covenant with your neighbors, oops, I mean, um, with a country, a far, far, away, country, full of grateful, adoring fans…your servants.

12 This bread of ours we took hot for our provision from our houses on the day we departed to come to you. But now look, it is dry and moldy. 13 And these wineskins which we filled were new, and see, they are torn; and these our garments and our sandals have become old because of the very long journey.”

Sales folks recognize this as, The Puppy Dog Close. Let them hold it, handle it, drive it, touch it, taste it, feel it.  

If Shakespeare were here, he’d say, “Thou doth protest too much, methinks.”

Obviously overcompensating.

If they really were ambassadors that left a long time ago, from a land, far, far, away, they wouldn’t be bragging about, oldy and moldy, but would rather be trying to hide their lack of preparation for the journey. If they were really from that far away, there would be no desire from either party to reach a covenant. It’s not like today, where the world is connected through modern technology and travel.

The whole ruse was smothered in sizzle, but had no fruit, no meat, no merit, yet, Joshua and crew, were duped because, they failed to preprayer for discernment, examine the fruit, consider their calling, follow peace and last but certainly not least, they:

14 Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord

ASK DIRECTIONS

Now, for our last step, in defeating deception: Ask Directions.

I wonder if the Lord finds this as funny as I do; because asking directions, is usually the last thing we do.

Putting together Christmas presents. Read directions? Only as a last resort.

Trying to find that place. Ask directions? No way, I’ve got this.

There’s a Jewish proverb that says: Better ask ten times than go astray once.

Jesus tells us to ask, and receive. Matthew 7:7-8.

God knows and sees everything. We know and see in part. 1 Corinthians 13:12.

Our life, in this body, is but a vapor. James 4:14. We do not have time to wander; especially now, in this present age of deception. Ask.


If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.  Romans 13:11-14.


Thursday, January 26, 2023

The Light Shines in the Darkness, John 1:1-5

 


We just finished a year long, journey through the book of Revelation.

“Where do You want us to go next?” was my prayer. Repeatedly. Even before we finished.

After we said the closing prayer at the end of our study of Revelation, I was asked, “Where will we be next week?”

“Good question. I’ve been asking Jesus the same thing…ask Him.”

The following week, that question played on a loop toward heaven. I had all kinds of ideas, but none rang True. Until a couple days before our next service.

John.

John? Okay…but, um, we just finished Revelation. John wrote that, too. Shouldn’t we broaden and balance our teaching? 

Afterall, Revelation is about the revelation of, well, You, Jesus. John is about the deity of Jesus, and on Sundays we’re in Joshua, who is a shadow and type of, Jesus. You know, Joshua is even the same name, as Jesus, in Hebrew.

Exactly.

Huh?

Jesus is coming for a Bride, that loves Him, intimately—not a business partner that has a broad and shallow knowledge of Him, intellectually.

Know the Author, deeply, and a wealth of understanding His Story, will blossom.

So, John it is…are You sure?

Wednesday morning, 1.25.23, I walked out the front door to load the golf cart and head up to the clubhouse to prepare for service. There in the driveway, lay, the Highlands News-Sun, in its usual spot. However, something unusual caught my eye. First page, front and center, a Bible verse:

“The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

Wow. That’s part of our opening scripture, John 1:5. 

A moment later, I was on my knees, by the bed, tears in eyes, thanks on lips.

NOTE: The article was in memory of the five who were slain, in a senseless mass shooting at the SunTrust Bank on Jan. 23, 2019.  We pause, in honor of their memory, and ask Lord Jesus, God of all Comfort, to continue to heal and comfort their family, loved ones, and community.   

 

So, John it is.   

John in Greek: Ióannés; in Hebrew: Yochanan; meaning, God is Gracious. The last verse in our study of Revelation, read: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

And of His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16.

John is the last surviving disciple, and eye witness, of Christ. Most scholars agree it was written around, 85-90 AD. However, others claim it was written as early as 55 AD.

It’s only about thirty pages, includes twenty-one chapters; shares just eight miracles, compared to nearly twenty in each of the other gospels. Yet, movies, books…and multitudes of souls have been saved through the inspired pen of John.

The prince of preachers, Charles Spurgeon, said of the first chapter of John:

“Now, the first chapter of John was the means of the conversion of a celebrated writer, Junius the younger, one who did good service in the Church. His father, perceiving him to be an ungodly young man, put in his way as much as possible the New Testament, and the following is an extract from Junius's ’s account of his own life

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God.’ I read part of the chapter, and was so affected that I instantly became struck with the divinity of the argument, and the majesty and authority of the composition, as infinitely surpassing the highest flights of human eloquence. My body shuddered; my mind was in amazement, and I was so agitated the whole day that I scarcely knew who I was; nor did the agitation cease, but continued till it was at last soothed by a humble faith in Him who was made flesh and dwelt among us.”

     One of the Platonic philosophers, who considered all Christian writers to be but barbarians, nevertheless said of the first chapter of John, “This barbarian hath comprised more stupendous stuff in three lines, than we have done in all our voluminous discourses.”

And we will to this day glory in the power of the Holy Spirit, that an unlearned and ignorant man like John, the son of Zebedee the fisherman, should be enabled to write a chapter which excels not only the highest flights of eloquence, but the greatest divings of philosophy. ~ Charles Spurgeon.

 

John and Genesis, both begin with the words, “In the beginning.” The simple, yet eloquent excellence of John 1, reflects that of Genesis 1:1-2:3; which is written with such profound simplicity, that it could only have been written, by the finger of God.

In the first chapter of John, there are three, simple, yet stupendous, four-word sermons:

The Word was God; John 1:1

In Him was life; John 1:4.

The Word became flesh; John 1:14.

This short book has some of the most famous scenes and verses. Among these are:

John 3:16. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever, believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 4:24. Woman at the well. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

John 10:10. The thief comes to steal, kill, destroy, I have come that they would have life, and life more abundantly.

John 13. Jesus washes disciples’ feet. Even Judas.

John 14:6. I AM the Way, the Truth, the Life. No one comes to the Father, but by Me.

John 16. In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I’ve overcome the world.

John 17. Jesus prays for disciples…and you and me.

John 21: 25. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

 

The Purpose of John is stated in one verse:

But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name. John 20:31

 

The emphasis of the book is on the Divinity of Jesus. Who Jesus is. Whereas, the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke), focus on what He did.

 

John

John 1:1
 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.

Our first four-word sermon: THE WORD WAS GOD.

In the beginning, caught the attention of the Jews, they knew Genesis 1:1. Just three words triggered in their memory, the entire creation story, and painted a picture of the Creator. Which set the stage for what was to follow.

Was, εἰμί, eimi. This word, “was” in the original text, means more than, was, as in past-tense. It incorporates all tenses at the same time; past, present, future. It means I exist, I am, ongoing, being.

Moses asked God, “Who should I say sent me?” God said, I AM, Exodus 3:14. In multiple places in Revelation, Jesus lets us know, He is, and was, and is to come, the Alpha, Omega, First and Last, Beginning and End.  

With just four words, John has already painted a picture of Deity and Eternity.

The Word (logos), caught the attention of the Greeks. They were familiar with the word, logos. They liked that word. It carried the idea of, intelligent reasoning. A word, (as embodying an idea), a statement, a speech. If you are asked to, “give us a word,” you wouldn’t simply say, one word, but would expound upon an idea, or a particular subject matter. Greeks related to intelligent, reasoning, deity. Albeit, impersonal.  

Straight out of the gate, John repeats the simple words, was (eimi), and word (logos). And just like that, his entire audience, immediately pictures; intelligent, eternal, deity.

3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Our second four-word sermon: IN HIM WAS LIFE.

Just to be sure that no reader is left behind, he loops in all who may not have pictured the Creator, in the beginning.

He clarifies, in triplicate. 1. All things were made through Him. 2. Without Him, nothing was made that was made. 3. In Him was life. Period.  

Now, with majestic authority our text soars to the highest flights of eloquence; speaking of the Almighty Creator. Yet with words, so simple, a child can understand, he gives personality to the Creator; by repeating the personal pronoun, “Him.” 

Even deeper, more personal, the inspired Word, associates, “Him” with being the life and light of men.

The message is driven home. The Almighty Deity, is not something far off to behold, and fear; but Someone, who draws near, with life and Light, and...

“The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

Monday, January 23, 2023

Triggered & Tricked, Joshua 9


Have you ever heard the phrase, “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”?

Well, in chapter eight, we took a look at God’s secret weapon to winning. Now, in nine, we expand our view to expose, the battle plan of the enemy.

Joshua 9:1

 And it came to pass when all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan, in the hills and in the lowland and in all the coasts of the Great Sea toward Lebanon—the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite—heard about it,

When all the –ites; Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Termites, Pepsi Lights, heard about it—

Wait. "it"? heard about “it”? What's "it"?

Oh, good question. “It” becomes clear if we back up into chapter eight a few verses. Then, we see “it” is the battle plan God’s people just set in motion; a battle plan so extreme, so powerful, so profound, that it triggers all enemies into fight or flight mode.

God’s people simply stepped off the War Road, and entered the War Room. They walked off the battle field against flesh and blood, put down their man-made sword, and picked up the God-made One…and won, every battle after that.

That exact same battle plan still works. Millions are using it, right now, today. It works in every battle, against any enemy.

We discussed in detail this winning battle plan here:

The secret weapon to winning

Wielding the Weapon to Winning


All God’s people gathered together, in the midst of enemy territory, and boldly proclaimed His uncompromised word.

ALL of them, ALL, of it.

They ALL gathered. None stayed home to watch online. They did not just go their separate ways and do whatever was right in their own eyes.

They ALL gathered, and read ALL… not just the good parts, not just the politically correct parts, not just the feel-good parts. ALL. Blessing and cursing.

The word “all” is repeated seven times in four verses, (Joshua 8:33-9:1). Five refer to Joshua and crew, and two reflect the response of the enemy.

This is no accident. God wastes no words.

Make no mistake, God’s call is to all; to be all-in—no fence straddlers, no lukewarm laziness.

When God’s people, unite and follow, His battle plan for winning, it triggers the enemy to fight.

  … they gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord. Joshua 9:2

Yeah, but Doug, that was back in the day. That’d never happen today. We’re too civilized.

Really?

The same demon-ites triggered then, are alive today. We witnessed their fury, in 2020; and would again, in an instant, if God’s people would do, what Joshua and crew, did back then.

Just imagine if all God’s people united.

They say there’s about, 210 million Christians in the U.S. and about 2.4 billion in the world.  Some may be, CINO—Christian in name only. So, let’s just say about 25% are real Christians.  

Now, imagine, fifty million Christians in the U.S. (fifty billion, in the world), stepping up to microphones tomorrow morning, in schools, colleges, before sporting events, court hearings, business meetings, street corners, public squares, any place where people gather; and reading, the blessings and cursings, from Deuteronomy 27 and 28, or any part of the Bible, and then, praying, in the name of Jesus.

What if tomorrow morning, every classroom in America heard Bible reading and prayer to Jesus, echo from the intercom system?

Our little village has a weekly meeting. It starts with a prayer. Some complained. The manager, politely, yet firmly, let them know they have a right not like it, a right not to attend it, but there’s no right, that supersedes, what’s Right.

Acknowledging God, thanking Him, and asking for His blessing, has always been, and always will be, right.  

What would happen if God’s people acted like that? Like He was in charge, rather than some corrupt interpretation of the law, the constitution, and especially that perverted phrase: separation of church and state?

What if God’s people acted like ambassadors for the Ruler of the Universe, like children of the King of kings, like the Bride of Christ, coworkers with the Creator, like His Church; His Ekklésia—the ones called out, to rule and reign, in this life and the next…like He’s coming back, at any moment.

How would the woke respond if Christians woke up, spoke up, and stood up, and didn’t ask permission, to acknowledge, out loud, in all places, Jesus Christ as King?

If we did, what Joshua did, or what Jesus did; you can be sure, the ites would respond the same way.

And you can be doubly sure, that God would respond as well. Even, if need be, to the point of holding the sun in place, and hammering hailstones from heaven, which we'll see actually happen, in the very next chapter; and in our not so distant future, as we see in Revelation.

However, not all rise up to fight openly, like those in verse two. 

You see, the devil’s battle plan is two pronged. 

He comes in roaring like a lion, to instill fear. Or, he sneaks in quietly camouflaged, like a snake, to deceive.

Like a roaring lion. 1 Peter 5:8.

Disguised as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15.  

The second scheme is the deadliest. With just a handful of people, without firing a shot, it hamstrings the entire nation. It does the same today, by, “ites”, masquerading as “rights.”

Lord willing, we’ll look at all that, and more, next week. Joshua 9:3-14.

 

Let’s pray.

Lord Jesus, thank You for not sugar-coating the Truth. For letting us know, we’re in a fight. Help us face, with faith, not fear, the ites, in our life. Give us a passion to be all-in, courageous and uncompromised. Most of all, make us ever aware, of Your presence, so the words of our mouth, and the meditations of our heart, are acceptable to You, our Lord, our Strength, our Redeemer.

We love You, forever.

Amen.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

I AM Coming Quickly, Revelation 22:7-21

 



Welcome back.

Hope you’re enjoying our chapter 22, tour of heaven. Did you relax during our picnic by the River of Life?  Were you awestruck as we looked toward Him who sits on the Throne? Were you amazed as we examined the beautiful healing Trees of Life?  

Now, we come to the end of our year long journey, through the book of Revelation. This is also the end of the New Testament, and the end of the Holy Bible.

Final words are important.

As the Lord wraps this up, He reveals what’s most pressing on His heart; what’s vital for us to remember. He does this by repeating over and over, a simple four-word phrase.

Let’s listen in, to see if we can hear it.

 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:7

In Bibles that have the words of Jesus in red, this is the first time we see red since the sixth bowl of chapter sixteen; before that, not again until the letters to the Churches, in chapter three.

But now, Jesus breaks His silence to say, “I am coming quickly.” This is good news, said with joy. His very next word is, “Blessed” which means, happy, fortunate, and to be envied.

The book of Revelation, begins and ends with a promise of blessing to those who read, hear and keep the words of this prophecy. Revelation 1:3; 22:7.

Just think of how far folks go in the pursuit of happiness. And yet, right here before our very eyes is a blessed, happy, fortunate and to be envied, God-guaranteed promise.  

8 Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.

Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God

You can’t blame him for dropping to his knees; after hearing the words of Jesus.

Notice, the “angel” which in the original text means “messenger,” says that he’s a fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets. Makes me wonder if he is one of the prophets of old in his glorified body. But that’s another study, for another day.

The important thing, is his last two words. Worship God. Period.

We’d do well, and be blessed, to heed that powerful two-word sentence.

Worship God.

Amen.

10 And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.  11 He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”

John is told, do not seal up the words of this prophecy, because the time for fulfillment is near, “the time is at hand.”

However, remember, about six hundred years earlier, Daniel was told to seal up the words of the book, until the time of the end; when folks run to and fro and knowledge is increased.

“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Daniel 12:4 

Speaking of running to and fro; did you know, currently, there are about one-hundred-thousand flights per day?  

And then, regarding an increase in knowledge; before you can finish this sentence, there will be about three or four hundred-thousand google searches (depending on how fast you read).

 Statics indicate that every second there are 99,000 google searches; that’s more than 8.5 billion per day.

Does that sound like the days Daniel wrote about? The last days; the time of the end, when many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.

Daniel goes on to say that the wicked shall do wickedly, the wise will do wisely.

Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. Dan. 12:10 

Notice how scripture is prophetically woven together in perfect harmony. John writes in our text (Rev. 22:11) about how the unjust will be unjust, the filthy, will be filthy, the righteous, righteous, the holy, holy.

But why?

Why would the Bible say, let the filthy be filthy? Letting the wicked do whatever they want without saying a word, sounds like the politically correct mantra of the day. 

That can’t be right.

Remember, the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible and context is king.

Daniel, states that the wicked will do wickedly. Period. There’s nothing more that can be said or done. These, wicked, unjust, filthy, have passed the point of no return.

Jesus shares in Matthew 15:14: Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Theologian, Walvoord said of this verse: “If the warnings of this book are not sufficient, there is no more that God has to say.”

To hesitate, even one second, from responding to the Lord’s call, is like pulling the trigger in Russian roulette for your soul. The heart grows harder with each pull, until that fatal time…and it’s too late.

12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 

 

There it is again, “I am coming quickly.

At first, He followed the phrase with the beautiful word, “blessed.” This time He follows it by talking about rewards.

Award Ceremony

For those ready and waiting for His return, this is not a time of judgement, but an award ceremony.


My reward is with Me…

As a kid, around Christmas, on the day Grandma Daisy, and Grandpa Bill, were coming, we’d watch out the window, eagerly watching and waiting. Yes, of course, to see them…but our hearts beat a little faster as they opened the trunk, and pulled out the presents.

Jesus sees your labor of love. The whole world may overlook you. They may not notice your hard work, your gifts, your talents. But Jesus sees, what no one else notices. Your kind word, your love, your good deed, especially the ones that go unnoticed, are highlighted in the eyes of the Lord. And He’s coming with His reward, picked out just for you.

“Weary not in well doing, for you shall reap in due season, if you faint not.” Galatians 6:9.

If you don’t quit, you win.

 

15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.


Wait. What?

We’re in Revelation 22. This is about heaven. What in the world is this verse doing here?

So, is it true; all dogs go to heaven?

And bad guys?  Outside, the pearly gates?  Huh?

In context and throughout scripture, “dogs” are referred to as those outside the Christian faith, those that are described in the rest of the verse; ungodly, immoral, evil, people.

Regarding the people, “outside” we need to look at the original text to gain understanding.

Outside: exó, means without. Same word used throughout scripture to describe those outside the Church.

Jesus paints a picture to help explain.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away (exó). So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:47-50.

 

Back in that day, all the filth of the old Jerusalem was carried outside the walls and burned.

There are no evil doers loitering outside the pearly gates. They are, exó, cast out, into the lake of fire, forever.

Although, this verse may seem out of place, it is an act of God’s grace. One more time He explains, that Salvation is a Gift, but requires repentance (turning away from sinful lifestyle).

 We cannot continue in sin, and enter His Kingdom.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

Verification.

We’ll now see a verification an invitation and a warning.

This verse is a verification directly from Jesus.

It’s like He’s saying: I AM, Jesus, and I approve this message.

Then, He follows up with just a couple of His credentials: the Root and Offspring of David and the Bright and Morning Star; both are Messianic titles.

Don’t you love that the Bright and Morning Star comes at the darkest part of the night, just before the dawn?

Come quickly Lord Jesus.

Did you notice, this is the first mention of the Church, (Ekklésia), since the letters in chapters two and three. A comforting, confirming, reminder that His Church, (His Bride) is caught up, to be with Him, prior to the tribulation of chapters six through eighteen. Which makes perfect sense, since, no Good Groom, would appoint His Bride, to wrath. 1 Thessalonians 5:9.

Thank You, Jesus.



And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17.

Invitation.

God’s heart is on display from beginning to end. This is the great and grand, final, all-inclusive invitation.

“All the prophets of the Bible, all the apostles of the Bible, all the threatenings of the Bible, all the promises of the Bible, gather themselves up, and focus themselves into this one burning ray, ‘Come to Jesus. Come, and take the water of life freely.’” (Charles Spurgeon).

 

18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Warning.

The warning is not ambiguous. God’s Word, is forever, settled. Psalm 119:89. Period.

Folks will rewrite anything, to accommodate their lust driven agenda. Including the US Constitution, the definition of marriage, gender…even Aunt Jemima Pancake Syrup, for crying out loud.  

They even try to rewrite, HIStory.

Legalism, is religion on steroids. It adds restrictions and rules, never found in the Bible.

Liberalism, swings the other way, and is grace on steroids. It dismisses the absolutes found in the Bible.

No matter what they say or do, God’s Word is Rock Solid Absolute Truth. It has stood the test of time, and will stand for eternity. Its anchor holds, through every storm, in any situation, during any time, in HIStory. Not one jot, or one tittle, of God’s Word, will fail. Ever.

This is His final, irrefutable, unchangeable, immutable, living will and testament, forever.  

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.”

There’s that wonderful phrase again. I am coming quickly. It’s only mentioned four times in the Bible. All in Revelation. Once in, Revelation 3:11, to the faithful Church in Philadelphia. We’ve just read the other three, here in chapter twenty-two. Take note; every time it’s spoken, directly to the Church.

This time, He adds an emphasis on both ends. He begins with “Surely…” and immediately after, we have an, “Amen…”

It’s like the famous verse, John 3:16. It doesn’t just say, “For God loved the world…” but says, For God ssssooooooooooooooo, loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever, believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.

His heart is revealed, perfectly clear, by His last words.

What will be, your last words?

Lord, help us finish well.

Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The answer, to all the world’s woes: come, Lord Jesus.

21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Whatever you may miss, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be always with you. In whatsoever points you or any of us may fail, may we never come short of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Charles Spurgeon).

 

Lord Jesus,

Come quickly, find us, watching, waiting, longing, for Your return.