20 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons,and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk.21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts,their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelation 9) These statements wrap up two chapters full of judgment: natural disasters, pestilence, and war. There is too much to ignore. Yet many choose not to call out to God in repentance, not to come to Christ for the change they need, but to instead cling to their man-made idols and ways of trying to handle it themselves. It is one of those exceedingly sad statements made in Revelation: after all mankind has seen, to still turn away from God. How hard have our hearts become? What does it take for Him to wake us up?
15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains.16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?" (Revelation 6)
In the opening scene of this chapter, John is invited to "come" and see what lies ahead for the world, and it's not pretty: war, famine, sickness, and death pile up, as the sense of groaning increases: "How Long!?!" There is this struggle as God's people watch and wait for Christ to return, to fulfill all His promises of salvation. We cannot wait for Him to come. But many do not want for Him to come. In His own words, He has come to fulfill all righteousness. For those who have been made righteous by faith in Him, it is a glorious coming, but for those who refuse and reject Him, His coming is one in judgment, which makes them call out the way they do in the passage above. When He returns, no one can hide. Will you want to? Or will you be calling: "Come, Lord Jesus, come"?
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.12 In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5)
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands.2 I know your deeds,your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Revelation 2)
Reputation: Churches all have them. So do individuals. God wants us to be known as holy, not "holier-than-thou". This church had a reputation for doing the right thing, working hard, and standing up against sin and false-teaching, even enduring persecution for Christ. But if we are not careful, we can become self-approving in this situation, smelling like we know how good we are. We lose our passion for Christ Himself, and leaving Him out, we find it hard to repent, or even think we have something for which to repent. After all, we haven't done anything terrible, and have stood up for what is right and true. But as with all the tendencies these churches had, if we do not, we will fall away from God's purposes, and fade away from being the light He made us to be.
I John 2:18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
They left. It is one thing when a fellow believer has to leave the fellowship because they are moving away. It is yet another when a fellow believer leaves the fellowship because of some unresolved relationship conflict. But the most stunning blow is when someone who has seemed to be a part of the body rejects Christ and walks away. It shook this church; it still does today. But John reminds us that it will be this way, and increasingly so, as we approach The Day. We need to be hurt, concerned, and prayerful, but not shocked. Just as the Old Testament believers had enemies in the camp; just as Judas was a part of the Twelve, we will have those who say they're all in, then walk away. Take heart; take stock; stick with the truth: Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father.
John 17:6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled." This intimate pray of Jesus to the Father is one of those to be overheard. Often He would go away from His disciples to pray, so they could not hear everything He was saying. That is what caused them to say: "Teach us to pray." Here He teaches through prayer. He lets them, and us, know that the truth He has given is what we need, so that when we receive it, we are receiving Him and the Father, and this opens ups the storehouses of truth we can believe in, we can trust in with certainty. These things bring us into an unbreakable bond with the Father and the Son. Blessed Assurance. Humble confidence. Total security.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command.15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.17 This is my command: Love each other. (John 15) Jesus often said things two or three times to drive home His point. He knew how spiritually dense we can be. Here He goes overboard big time: "Remain in my love... Love Each other... Love each other..." And He has set that bar high: just like the Father... Just like Me...... laying down one's life... being true friends. It is so simple, yet so hard, is it not? He has put us into the sphere of God's love, where we are to remain, but then we have to go out into the world of reality and obey Him and love others. Don't be pulled out of His love. That is all. How we need Him to do so.
John 14:1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.
Jesus had just given some disturbing news: He was going away, and they could not go with Him. His words were spoken to those who had been most faithful to Him, so they hit hard. Yet these are the words held more memorable: While He is away, He will be preparing a place - a place where He will take His followers. Still disturbed, Thomas's questioning represents all the concerns we may have: where, how, why and when. But these are all the wrong questions, because the real issue is "Who?" Christ is the answer that calms all this disturbing wondering. He will take care of all the details and He will take us there and get us in. So, He says to them, and to us: "Stop being disturbed."
John 11:45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs.48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” 49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year,spoke up, “You know nothing at all!50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” 51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation,52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
Jesus had just accomplished His greatest miracle to date: raising Lazarus from the dead. This also accomplished the greater purpose for which He had come: many believed. But others had things they wanted to accomplish, at which they were not doing so well. They wanted control, and Jesus threatened that. The solution, in short, seemed to be the elimination of Jesus. But their goals were much too small, besides been of evil intent. Christ had come not only for the lost children of the house of Israel, but the world. They would accomplish their short-term mission of taking Jesus' life - at least they would think so. In reality, He was laying down His own life the accomplish the mission for which He had been sent: provide salvation and life sufficient for all who would believe.
John 10:31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him,32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” 33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’?35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside—36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father.38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed,41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that Johnsaid about this man was true.”42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.
Jesus had plenty of opponents. When it came down to it, they did not believe because they rejected three evidences: 1) His Word, which was really consistent with God's Word previously revealed; 2) the signs He performed, which was proof to many, and the only way to refute them was to foolishly call them demonic; 3) the testimony of John. John had called Him the "Lamb of God", and laid the foundation for Jesus' ministry. By contrast John did no signs, but left those up to Jesus so people would transition to following Him. By his lack of actions, and his words, John gave full support to Jesus. This is another reason John was such a "problem" for the Jewish leaders. They were willing to leave him alone out in the wilderness, but stymied by how to deal with his support of Jesus. Those who followed John were able to quickly recognize Jesus as the next step; those who refused to repent at John's teaching continued in their stubborn self-delusion, and rejected Christ as well. What will you do with the evidence?
41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” 43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered.44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.48 I am the bread of life.49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died.50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die.51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Grumbling. It really is the history of mankind. Satan getting Eve and Adam to grumble about what they could not have. The people of Israel grumbling that God sent manna from heaven, but no caviar. The world grumbling because God has sent His Son to be our Savior and offered no plan B. Let's try gratitude instead of grumbling - thanking God for His blessings, praising God for His beauty, trusting God in His grace. Watch yourself today: How much grumbling do you see and hear? How much gratitude do you display?