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Archive for the ‘Revelation’ Category

Been preparing on Revelation 22:17 but this hymn says it all better than I can. So true…

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies;
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.


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Mark-of-the-Beast

Since 2009 there has been a ‘warning’ going around through chain emails, blogs and social media claiming that ObamaCare will force all Americans to have a microchip implanted in order to access healthcare. This is often also claimed to be a fulfilment of Revelation 13 – Obama being the beast and the implant being the mark of the beast.

I wouldn’t bother to respond to this if it wasn’t for the fact that:

  1. Genuine, sincere brothers across the world are forwarding these messages and being worried by them.
  2. In some forms this rumour suggests that if Christians don’t know about this ‘satanic plot’ and have the chip implanted then they will ‘not make it’ when Christ returns / the rapture occurs. This strikes at the heart of the gospel. It is no longer ‘Christ alone’ it is Christ plus knowledge of a particular fulfilment of prophecy (strangely particular to America).
  3. The message sometimes talks about passing on this warning to all your contacts as ‘doing the work of an evangelist’. That makes my blood boil. This has nothing to do with evangelism.

In terms of the specific facts of the matter, the rumour seems to have been sparked by an earlier version of the ObamaCare bill that was voted down and never passed into law. This version (America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 HR 3200) included a provision to take data from implanted devices but did not enforce mandatory implants. The version that did successfully pass (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act HR 3590) had even the data retrieval section removed.

The other impetus, besides a particular politics, is a particular reading of the Book of Revelation. It is not so much that it is an overly literal reading, though that is part of it. More importantly it is simply not a very careful reading of Revelation. Read Revelation 13:11-14:13 for yourself and see if this is really about Obama and microchips. Have the children of God got his name and the name of the Lamb implanted as a chip under the skin of their foreheads (Rev. 14:1)? Do you see worshippers of the Lamb being tormented eternally because they have failed to notice a mark has been forced on them (cf. Rev. 14:9-10)? No. You see those who have been redeemed by the Lamb, sealed with his name and the name of their Father, singing a song of praise, rejoicing in the eternal gospel – the gospel of the Lamb who has been slain for them, the gospel of the One who has drunk the cup of God’s anger that they should have drunk.

That’s the message we should be sharing.

Some resources:

 

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covered-by-the-blood-of-jesus

This was a conversation on our iServe Facebook group that was too good not to share (with permission)…

James Wainaina  I have been wondering about the reference to Jesus’ blood and our view of the same. Recently a friend told me about a family discussion about salvation where the comment came, “Jesus’ blood has never dried, it is still fresh”. We also pray that we cover people with Jesus’ blood etc. etc. My wonderment has been as follows:

  1. Is Jesus’ blood still wet?
  2. Or is Jesus blood in a blood bank somewhere that we can refer to when we sin
  3. Was what Jesus did on the Cross (shedding His blood for us, dying for us) really a “Once and for all” sacrifice and atonement as Hebrews reminds us?

Just some wonderments…………

Christine Auma  You know some people refer to the blood of Jesus like it is some power they can invoke… I used to do that myself… Praying for the blood of Jesus to cover my while I slept or travelled… In this way we are using the blood of Jesus as power which keeps of evil and it is used in the way our ancestors used charms and invoked spirits for protection. I do not think it is right for us to do that.

Felix Ochieng  What do you think of the Passover night? Can people draw links from the protection of the blood of the Passover lamb to the blood of Christ?

James Wainaina  Yes indeed we can and we should Felix , but the question is, what was the blood for? Nicholas Pande can help with the whole topic of atonement (REDEMPTION research paper – N Pande). What we need is to ask why was the blood shed? For what purpose? For example, the Passover blood was for protection of the Israelites from God’s angel of death. Why? Because they were not right with him and blood had to be shed for them too so that they will not suffer death/punishment. The same to us, blood has been shed on the cross once and for all. All we need is faith in what has already happened on the cross. Imagine if the Israelites would be in the desert and they start praying, “We speak the blood of the Passover lamb over us” ????? Also, don’t we just believe that when we pray, “God protect us” is enough? That he can hear us.

Christine Auma  I AGREE with you James… the blood on the Cross was Christ taking or receiving the wrath of God/judgement on our behalf…. I agree that we can say that God protects us from all sorts of evil… but we should not use his blood as some power we call upon or invoke to has Him. It does protect us or washes us but the cleansing and the atonement of our sins happened 2000 years ago. This subject reminds of something we keep saying as Christians: that when we sin we are crucifying Christ again. I think this is wrong… ni kama tunaona dhabihu ya Yesu kama ile ya kondoo na mbuzi ambayo ilifanywa kila mara mtu alipotenda dhambi… But Jesus sacrifice was once and for all. There is no way we take him back to the cross by sinning.

Elizabeth Adisa  In line with your wonderments I am also wondering about this verse in Revelation 12:11 “They overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…”

Brian Masinde  I think it is just a sign of surrender to what Christ has already done. It all refers to the work of salvation and not the literal blood like the one now flowing in the veins and arteries of James Wainaina.

Felix Ochieng  I could like to share this passage Rev. 5:1 because I think this is the weight of it:

You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.

I don’t think that where Christ is seated he still has blood, though his blood that was shed is very powerful to save us just as just it was shed on that day. I know his blood was shed to purchase (redeem) mankind back to God. This was the sole purpose and I think there no difference if we pray ‘God protect us and God cover us by the blood of your Son’ because much of OT (where we draw the protection by the blood during the Passover from) is just the shadow of the reality of Christ. Otherwise, we may ask ourselves then how do we overcome by the blood (Rev. 12:11) if the protection can’t apply to the same blood. I do agree with what Christine just said that we SHOULD NOT invoke the blood of Christ as though it was some magical powers to suit our needs. It is FAITH in His death that leads to the shedding of his blood for the cleansing our sins, that will help us.

James Wainaina  Felix, do you think covering people with Jesus’ blood makes God act more than when we pray “Protect us”? Also, I think you are clear above in the quotation from Revelation that Jesus purchased us with his blood once and for all. The blood was shed on Calvary once and for all. It will never be done again and we must remember that as a historical act because the gospel is historical. We cannot have another crucifixion and therefore no more blood. It is done once and for all and it takes faith to believe that it is already done. Jesus put it this way, “It is finished”.

Felix Ochieng  James, You have spoken my mind and remember I said that the SOLE PURPOSE of the blood was to purchase the human race. I didn’t mean that we should go to heaven get the blood or crucify Christ again to have the blood to cover people. My emphasis is on the REDEMPTION and our FAITH on that act. If the Passover points towards Christ why not every element in it??? I don’t know if you get my point. Let us learn more – some thoughts (not mine) that can help us:

Elizabeth Adisa  In regards to Jesus Blood that was shed, redemption and remission of sins was its sole purpose meant to give us a permanent remedy to all our sins once and for all (Matt. 26:28; Eph. 1:7).

Coming back to Revelation 12:11 – it is interesting that when Jesus died on that day through the shedding of His blood, we are told that through his death, he destroyed he who had power of death and set us from the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15). In Colossians we are reminded again that having disarmed the principalities, he made a public spectacle (Col. 2:15). And then again, the son was manifested to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). And the saints in Revelation overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the Word of their testimony. In some way they participate in Jesus’ victory.

In regards to blood and protection, I strongly agree that we should never invoke the blood of Jesus as some kinds of spiritual chants to keep the enemies at bay but our concerns should be on the power behind that Blood that was shed. Going back to the OT… During Passover, “The blood will be a sign for you…and when I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Ex. 12:13). In the sacrificial system, when the Israelites slaughtered the lambs without blemish and used blood to cover for their sins, it wasn’t sufficient but only a temporary remedy. Then Jesus comes to the picture and sheds His Blood, once and for all and we obtain a permanent solution to our sins after the work at the cross. If we can all agree that the blood of animals were temporary covering for their sins that points us to Jesus shedding of His blood for permanent and total forgiveness; Can we then say or use the same analogy that the shed animal blood used in Passover for divine protection also leads us to the shed Blood of Jesus having divine protection in it?

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Really helpful stuff. Let’s keep talking…

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can_of_worms_ahead

I know this is a massively controversial one. The last thing I want to do is stir up an unnecessary hornets nest. It’s just that we’ve been looking at Genesis in iServe devotions recently and this came up in discussion. A few thoughts (definitely not a final word):

Some basic ground rules:

  • Genesis is first and foremost teaching theology. I know no-one is really denying that – the issue is whether it is also teaching the scientific how – but all the same, it so often gets lost in the debate about genre. In the beginning GOD. And to be more specific, the big point of the first few chapters of Genesis (as the whole Bible) is Jesus – the good news of Him (Luke 24, John 5, 1 Peter 1). Richard Bewes calls Gen. 1:3 “the first and primal Christ-centred sermon”. Who is discussing the creation of man? Who is walking around the garden? Who is the serpent crusher? Let our searching the Scriptures be with the goal of coming to Him for life.
  • There’s got to be loads of love and generosity as we discuss this stuff – and the forbearance described in Romans 14-15. We also need to be fair and open about the evidence – both from the Bible and science – not overstating or understating, not picking and choosing what fits our position.
  • All of us should believe at least that God could have made the universe in six 24 hour periods should he have wished to – that is the sort of God we are dealing with. The new universe will presumably be created in the twinkle of an eye when Christ returns.
  • Adam must be a historical individual (the ‘one man’) and the fall of Adam (the move from a sinless to a sinful world) must also be historical (e.g. Rom. 5; 1 Cor. 15). Also Eve, her being created second, her marriage to Adam and her being deceived are also depended on by the NT as historical events.
  • The genre of Gen. 1 is not strictly speaking a salvation issue. Sure, you can argue that everything has implications and the Bible is an integrated whole but the gospel is Jesus – died, buried, raised, seen (e.g. 1 Cor. 15:1-11). The gospel is not Christ crucified plus a particular view on Creation. We are not saved by having a perfect understanding of every passage of the Bible but by glimpsing the glory of God in the face of Christ in the pages of Scripture. That is the core of our evangelism, our preaching and our unity.

So, to a starting point for discussion…

Harrison pointed us to Tim Keller’s article where he deals with this genre issue at some length:

So what genre is Genesis 1? Is it prose or poetry? In this case, that is a false choice. Edward J. Young, the conservative Hebrew expert who reads the six-days of Genesis 1 as historical, admits that Genesis 1 is written in ”exalted, semi-poetical language” (Young, Studies in Genesis One (P&R, 1964) p.82). On the one hand, it is a narrative that describes a succession of events, using the wayyigtol expression characteristic of prose, and it does not have the key mark of Hebrew poetry, namely parallelism… On the other hand, as many have noted, Genesis 1’s prose is extremely unusual. It has refrains… including the seven-time refrain, “and God saw that it was good” as well as ten repetitions of “God said”, ten of “let there be”, seven repetitions of “and it was so,” as well as others. Obviously, this is not the way someone writes in response to a simple request to tell what happened (Henri Blocher, In the Beginning (IVP, 1984) p.33).In addition, the terms for the sun (“greater light”) and moon (“lesser light”) are highly unusual and poetic, never being used anywhere else in the Bible, and “beast of the field” is a term for animal that is ordinarily confined to poetic discourse (Blocher, p.32).

All this leads Collins to conclude that the genre is: “…what we may call exalted prose narrative. This name for the genre will serve us in several ways. First, it acknowledges that we are dealing with prose narrative…which will include the making of truth claims about the world in which we live. Second, by calling it exalted, we are recognizing that… we must not impose a ‘literalistic’ hermeneutic on the text” (C. John Collins Genesis 1-4 (P&R, 2006.) p.44).

I’ve got another thought on this but that’s plenty for now…

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