1392.) Genesis 1

September 2, 2014
The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo, circa 1511 (Sistine Chapel, The Vatican)

The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo, 1511
(Sistine Chapel, The Vatican)

Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a   (NRSV)

Welcome to DWELLING in the Word!  I love to go back to the great foundational stories of our faith — Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob, and Joseph.  Let’s go to Genesis!  I encourage you to read the accounts of these Bible characters with new eyes, looking for the goodness of God, the presence of Christ, and the working of the Holy Spirit.  And let’s also praise the Lord for the examples which stir our faith within this “cloud of witnesses.”

For subscribers — to get the full impact, click on the book and chapter at the top of your opened DWELLING (today it says 1392.)  Genesis 1) and that will bring you to our homepage, which makes it easier for you to read and see the pictures and get to the links and make comments!  You can also click on individual pictures to see them in a larger version.

Six Days of Creation and the Sabbath

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Gen1 space

6And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

Gen1 Sky

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Music:

HERE  is “The Heavens Are Telling”  from The Creation by Joseph Haydn, completed in 1798.     “The heavens are telling the glory of God; the wonder of His work displays the firmament.”

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9And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. 12The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

Gen1 seed-bearing plant

14And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” 21So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 22God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

"Birds and Fish after Escher" by Andrew Li.

“Birds and Fish after Escher” by Andrew Li.

24And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. 25God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

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Music:

HERE  is “All Creatures of our God and King,” sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

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26Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

Reflection:

What does it mean that we are made in God’s image, “according to our likeness”?

How are we to be like God emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically? — or as Jesus said in Mark 12:30 — what can we do to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”?

Remember that Jesus came to earth as “the exact likeness of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

29God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

“Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden” by Australian artist Margaret Preston, 1950. See the kangaroo and the koala? (Art Gallery of New South Wales)

2) Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

Genesis 1 from the St. John's Bible, with seven columns for the seven days --

Genesis 1 from the St. John’s Bible –

The structure of this illumination reflects the seven-day progression of the Bible’s Creation story, with seven vertical strips, one for each day. On the first day, fragmented shapes explode from the primordial void, expressed by the Hebrew words “tohu wabohu” (chaos). A vertical gold line marks the moment in the story when God ordered, “Let there be light.” Day three contains satellite pictures of the Nile Delta, suggesting the division of land and water and the beginnings of vegetation. The creation of human beings on the sixth day is represented by images from aboriginal rock paintings in Africa and Australia. The snake implies dangers to come, in the Garden of Eden. The golden seventh day is given over entirely to the contemplation of the spirit. The raven flying across the composition is the traditional carrier of God’s message to Saint Benedict.

4These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

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Books:

The Bible Jesus Read — Philip Yancey.
(Chapter 1: Is the Old Testament worth the effort?)

In the Beginning — Steve Turner.
(Simple rhymes, vivid pictures, for kids of all ages)

And:

HERE  is Genesis 1:1-10 from outer space! — A Christmas Greeting from Apollo 8.

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John 1:1-5  (Contemporary English Version)

In the beginning was the one

who is called the Word.

The Word was with God

and was truly God.

From the very beginning

the Word was with God.

And with this Word,

God created all things.

Nothing was made

without the Word.

Everything that was created

received its life from him,

and his life gave light

to everyone.

The light keeps shining

in the dark,

and darkness has never

put it out.

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Michelangelo.  http://www.case.edu/med/reprobiol/images/michelangelo-creation-adam-.jpg
light from deep space (NASA).  http://jtintle.wordpress.com/2006/11/13/pia01322-chaos-at-the-heart-of-orion/
sky.  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/be/SI-Sky.JPG
raspberries, seed-bearing plants.   http://cdn.newsday.com/polopoly_fs/1.3519408.1328885213!/httpImage/image.JPG_gen/derivatives/display_600/image.JPG
sun, moon, stars.   http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/celestiallogo.jpg
“Birds and Fish after Escher” by Andrew Li.   http://www.creativityexplored.org/_images/art_600x600/1341252983Andrew_Li_Birds__Fish_after_Escher200_wide.jpg
Preston.  http://clatterymachinery.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/margaret-preston-adam-and-eve-in-the-garden-of-eden.jpg
St. John’s Bible:  Genesis.    http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/stjohnsbible/images/itw0001s.jpg

1391.) The Word of God

September 1, 2014

Look Anew.

The Bible is utterly trustworthy.

Bible with light

Tomorrow we are starting again!  A chapter a day, Genesis through Revelation!  At 1,189 chapters in the Bible, and approximately 260 weekdays a year, it will take us about four years to read through it all.  There is no rush; the name of this blog is DWELLING for a reason!  We want to move patiently through God’s Word, all the while thinking, marinating, meditating.  We want the Word to change us, transform us, renew us.

So before we begin, let’s commit to look at the Bible with fresh eyes and to hear it with fresh ears.  As the Psalmist says in Psalm 119:18 (NIV), “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”  For the next many months, our textbook will be the Bible, but we do not take it just on blind faith.  There are many good reasons to believe that the Bible is reliable.

1. IT SAYS SO.

Bible 2 Timothy

We couldn’t be more sure of what we saw and heard—God’s glory, God’s voice. The prophetic Word was confirmed to us. You’ll do well to keep focusing on it. It’s the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rising of the Morning Star in your hearts. The main thing to keep in mind here is that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private opinion. And why? Because it’s not something concocted in the human heart. Prophecy resulted when the Holy Spirit prompted men and women to speak God’s Word.

–2 Peter 1: 19-21 (Message)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

–John 1: 1 (NRSV)

2. JESUS SAYS SO.

Bible Jesus quotes OT

Jesus quoted Old Testament Scripture all the time. He believed it to be true. He quoted well over a dozen OT books, in his public and private words, including some of his words from the cross.  Since Jesus quoted Psalms, Deuteronomy, Exodus, and Isaiah a great deal, it seems that it would probably be a good idea for us to know them better, too.

Mark 12:26  (NIV)

Now about the dead rising–have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?

3. MANUSCRIPT EVIDENCE SAYS SO.

Bible manuscripts

Romans 11: 13-22 and Colossians 1: 5-12, (P46)

Original writings, called autographs, were probably written on papyrus scrolls. When these original autographs were copied, it was on to dried animal skin scrolls. Copies were made under the strictest measures; often one error meant the copy was destroyed. The accuracy of the copies is confirmed by the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Bible, made c. 250 – 150 B.C. during the Greek Empire).

For example, look at the picture above.  The Chester Beatty papyrus codex of the Pauline Epistles (P46) is the earliest book of Saint Paul’s letters in existence. It contains some of Paul’s letters to the early Christian communities in Asia Minor. The pages were numbered in the upper margin, and enough page numbers have been preserved to establish the original formation of the volume. The entire codex would have consisted of 100 to 104 leaves, of which only 86 survive, 55 in The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin and 30 in the library of the University of Michigan.

4. MORE MANUSCRIPT EVIDENCE SAYS SO.

Bible Cave

The Dead Sea Scrolls also confirm the reliability of Scripture. Over 800 documents were discovered in eleven caves on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea between 1947 and 1956. Fragments of every book of the Old Testament have been discovered, except the book of Esther.  Included in the scrolls are 29 copies of Deuteronomy and 30 copies of the Psalms.  The Isaiah Scroll, found relatively intact, is 1000 years older than any previously known copy of Isaiah. The Dead Sea Scrolls are the oldest collection of Old Testament scrolls ever found. In fact, they include some of the only known surviving copies of Biblical documents made before 100 AD.

The scrolls are for the most part written in Hebrew, but there are many written in Aramaic.  Aramaic was the common language of the Jews of Palestine for the last two centuries B.C. and the first two centuries A.D.  The discovery of the scrolls has greatly enhanced scholarly knowledge of these two languages.

5. EVEN MORE MANUSCRIPT EVIDENCE SAYS SO.

Bible Iliad

Here are a couple more interesting facts that support our belief in the veracity of the Bible.

There exist today more than 5000 ancient copies of the New Testament. No other document of antiquity even comes close to such numbers. In comparison, Homer’s Iliad is second, with only 643 manuscripts that still survive.

The chronology of these manuscripts is another interesting issue. The earliest copies of Homer we have were written 400 years after Homer. But the earliest complete NT Scriptures we have are only 225 years after Christ – with fragments as early as 50 – 100 years later.

Of course, the closer to the actual events, the more likely real witnesses were there to confirm what was written. These facts provide a remarkable basis for the integrity of the Bible.

6. PROPHECY SAYS SO.

Bible JESUS PROPHECIES

Over and over, Jesus pointed to OT prophecy to back up his claims to be the Messiah. In the OT there are 60-some major messianic prophecies and approximately 270 ramifications. These include references to various ancestors, the location of his birth, his working of miracles, his telling of parables, his death, burial, and resurrection – that were all fulfilled in one person, Jesus Christ.  As we read through the 39 OT books, we will be paying close attention to passages that point us to Jesus.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

–Luke 24: 44 (ESV)

7. CHANGED LIVES SAY SO.

Bible my heart

Alistair Begg, pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, says this about understanding the Bible:

“In the Old Testament Jesus is predicted,
in the Gospels Jesus is revealed,
in the Acts of the apostles Jesus is preached,
in the Epistles, Jesus is explained,
and in the Book of Revelation Jesus is expected.”

And as we see Jesus more clearly and love him more deeply, we, too, are witnesses to the truth of Holy Scriptures. After all, the most convincing argument for Christianity is a genuine Christian! We believe that the Word of God is true, teaching us that God is our Father and Creator, Jesus is our Savior, and the Holy Spirit is our Guide.  We have Christ in our hearts and in our lives, and we will show the world a peace and a joy that simply seem impossible to them. Sins forgiven, hope abounding, love unfailing – these gifts of God will transform lives!

Microsoft Word - Document1_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Word of God, Speak” by MercyMe.

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Show me Yourself within Your Word, O Lord, and show me my Savior.

DWELLING in Jesus with you,

Rebecca Mitchell


1390.) Psalm 151

August 29, 2014

P151 David Goliath

Psalm 151 [Greek]

This additional psalm is said to have been written by David when he fought Goliath in single combat.

Although for many years scholars believed that Psalm 151 might have been an original Greek composition and that there was no evidence that Psalm 151 ever existed in Hebrew, it is now known from the Dead Seas scrolls that this psalm did in fact exist in Hebrew and was a part of the psalter used by the Qumran community.

–Wikipedia

To refresh yourself on the story of David and Goliath, go to 1 Samuel 17,  HERE.

I was small among my brothers,
    and the youngest of my father’s sons.
    I was shepherd of my father’s sheep.

1 Timothy 4:12  (NIV)

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

My hands made a musical instrument;
    my fingers strung a lap harp.

P151 David lyre

Who will tell my Lord?
    The Lord himself, the Lord hears me.

Psalm 116:1-2  (ESV)

I love the Lord, because he has heard
    my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,

    therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

The Lord himself sent his messenger,
    and took me away
    from my father’s sheep.
    He put special oil on my forehead
    to anoint me.

My brothers were good-looking and tall,
    but the Lord didn’t take
    special pleasure in them.

Proverbs 31:30  (NIV)

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting.

1 Samuel 16:7   (NCV)

“Don’t look at how handsome he is or how tall he is, because I have not chosen him. God does not see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

I went out to meet the Philistine,
    who cursed me by his idols.

But I took his own sword out of its sheath
    and cut off his head.
    So I removed the shame
    from the Israelites.

Philippians 4:13  (NKJV)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

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Music:

THIS SONG  — called “Psalm 151″ — was originally sung on television by Wynonna Judd in an episode of Touched By An Angel.  Now it is more commonly called “Testify to Love.”  It has no real relation to the psalm above — but it should make sense if you are working on your list of 150 praises to God!  :)

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Common English Bible (CEB)   Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

1389.) Psalm 150

August 28, 2014

P150 everything praise

Psalm 150  (NIV)

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.

Psalm 113:3 (ESV)

From the rising of the sun to its setting,
    the name of the Lord is to be praised!

Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,

P150 Musical-instruments
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

Ephesians 5:19-20 (NIV)

Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

P150 1 2 3Here is an invitation for you:  Make a list in the following days of 150 things for which you can praise God!  That’s right — find a notebook and a pen, or write a draft on your computer — make it as personal as possible, as you praise and thank God for who he is in all his love and grace, and for the many wonderful things he has done for you!  In other words, write your own psalm!

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Music:

HERE  is Tommy Walker and many others singing “Praise Him, Praise Him” and reciting Psalm 150.

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New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

1388.) Proverbs 31

August 27, 2014

Prov31 model

Proverbs 3  (NLT)

The Sayings of King Lemuel

The sayings of King Lemuel contain this message, which his mother taught him.

Mama warns her son the king not to succumb to the wiles of women who would sap his strength:

O my son, O son of my womb,
    O son of my vows,
do not waste your strength on women,
    on those who ruin kings.

Mama reminds him to avoid wine and strong drink so that he will not rule unwisely:

It is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine.
    Rulers should not crave alcohol.
For if they drink, they may forget the law
    and not give justice to the oppressed.
Alcohol is for the dying,
    and wine for those in bitter distress.
Let them drink to forget their poverty
    and remember their troubles no more.

Mama insists that it is his responsibility to give justice to the poor and oppressed:

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
    ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
    and see that they get justice.

A Wife of Noble Character

Prov31 Rubies 2

I dedicate this passage today to Linda (from Ada, Minnesota) on her birthday!  You have been a wonderful model to me of what a Proverbs 31 woman can be.  Thank you and much love to you today and every day!

10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
    She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her,
    and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.

Throughout the book of Proverbs, wives have been the object of both praise and judgment.  In 19:14, a good wife is described as coming from the Lord. She is instrumental in training children and youth.  Her contributions to the family are of the greatest importance.  But wives can also be the object of judgment  They can nag (21:9); they can be quarrelsome (21:19).  But worst of all, they can be unfaithful (7:19).

–Frank Johnson

13 She finds wool and flax
    and busily spins it.
14 She is like a merchant’s ship,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
    and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife.

–Franz Schubert

16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
    with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She is energetic and strong,
    a hard worker.
18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
    her lamp burns late into the night.

Prov31 Luther

19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,
    her fingers twisting fiber.
20 She extends a helping hand to the poor
    and opens her arms to the needy.
21 She has no fear of winter for her household,
    for everyone has warm clothes.

There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.

–Homer

22 She makes her own bedspreads.
    She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,
    where he sits with the other civic leaders.
24 She makes belted linen garments
    and sashes to sell to the merchants.

Try praising your wife, even if it does frighten her at first.

–Billy Sunday

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
    and suffers nothing from laziness.

“I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest — blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine.”

–Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

28 Her children stand and bless her.
    Her husband praises her:
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
    but you surpass them all!”

Genesis 2:21-24   (NIV)

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening.  Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.

“At last!” the man exclaimed.

“This one is bone from my bone,
    and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
    because she was taken from ‘man.’”

This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
    but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done.
    Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

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Music:

HERE  is a tender true story and a song, about a 95-year-old man who remembers his wife of 75 years, “Sweet Lorraine.”

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved


1387.) Revelation 22

August 26, 2014

Rev22 13

Revelation 22   (NRSV)

The River of Life

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city.

Psalm 46:4-5  (NIV)

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.

On either side of the river is the tree of life

The Bible begins with a tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24) which man was not allowed to eat from after the sin at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now we see the tree of life again.

–David Guzik (and all following comments in red)

with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more.

In heaven, the curse is gone. Since the fall, man and creation have lived with the effect of the curse described in Genesis 3:16-19: sorrow and pain in childbirth for women, friction between the sexes, the necessity of hard and often futile work for man’s sustenance, and most of all death.

But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face,

1 Corinthians 13:12  (NIV)

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Sun of my soul, O Savior dear,
It is not night if Thou art here!

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true, for the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

“See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

Rev blessed

Luke 11:27-28   (NIV)

As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Epilogue and Benediction

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”

10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

12 “See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.

Rev blessed

John 14:1-6 (NIV)

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 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? 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. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

These terms together mean that Jesus is the beginning, middle, and end for the Christian. “Preach orthodoxy, or any form of doxy; if you have left out Christ, there is no manna from heaven, no water from the rock, no refuge from the storm, no healing for the sick, no life for the dead. If you leave out Christ, you have left the sun out of the day, and the moon out of the night, you have left the waters out of the sea, and the foods out of the river, you have left the harvest out of the year, the soul out of the body, you have left joy out of heaven, yea, you have robbed all of its all. There is no gospel worth thinking of, much less worth proclaiming in Jehovah’s name, if Jesus be forgotten.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; 19 if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

20 The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

Rev22 Graham quote
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Music:

HERE  is “Soon”  by Hillsong.

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New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1386.) Revelation 21

August 25, 2014

Rev21 NewJerusalem

Revelation 21   (NRSV)

The New Heaven and the New Earth

After the worship in heaven and the removal of evil from the earth, one would expect God to constitute either a heavenly or an earthly paradise.  John sees it otherwise.  Conflict, anger, tears, and violence have filled the calendars of both places.  Neither is the proper setting for what God chooses to bring about.  God plans a new heaven and a new earth.

This has a precedent in the Old Testament.  Isaiah had written,  For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create a Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy (Isaiah 65:17-19).

It is the New Jerusalem, Jerusalem rejoicing, that John now portrays.

–Robert H. Conn

Seven final visions:  No. 7

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem,

This is the Jerusalem of hope (Hebrews 12:22), the Jerusalem above (Galatians 4:26), the place of our real citizenship (Philippians 3:20).

coming down out of heaven from God,

Representing a sharp contrast to human attempts to build the tower of Babel up to heaven, this city is God’s gift.

–Ian Boxall

prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”

Rev21 all things new

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Vision of the New Jerusalem

Don’t be put off by the symbolism that is used in the Bible to describe heaven. This does not make it any less real. John Buckeridge, assistant editor of Alpha, says that when he was a child he imagined that everyone would be busy digging up the streets. “After all the preacher said that the streets of heaven were paved with gold—so I figured a jack hammer or pick-axe would be a lot more useful than a harp!” Heaven is no more literally made of gold and precious stones than the promised land of Canaan literally “flowed with milk and honey”, but the image being presented is clear enough in both cases. It is sad, however, when adults avoid the issues raised by the biblical teaching on heaven by poking fun at its symbolism. C. S. Lewis has a delightful  passage in Mere Christianity about this:

There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of ‘Heaven’ ridiculous by saying they do not want to “spend eternity playing harps.” The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them. All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold, etc.) is, of course, a merely symbolical attempt to express the inexpressible. Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all) music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly suggests ecstasy and infinity. Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendour and power and joy. Gold is mentioned to suggest the timelessness of Heaven (gold does not rust) and the preciousness of it. People who take these symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs.

http://www.christianity.co.nz/life_death8.htm

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 The angel who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width; and he measured the city with his rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, one hundred forty-four cubits by human measurement, which the angel was using. 18 The wall is built of jasper, while the city is pure gold, clear as glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city are adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.

The primary echo here is of the breastplate of Israel’s high priest, which was adorned with twelve precious stones representing each of the twelve tribes (Exodus 28:17-20).  For this new Jerusalem is the city of the new priestly people, and of the Lamb who has already appeared to John as the heavenly high priest (Revelation 1:13).

–Ian Boxall

21 And the twelve gates are twelve pearls, each of the gates is a single pearl, and the street of the city is pure gold, transparent as glass.

 Rev21 street-paved-with-gold

You know the story about a rich man who wanted to take his money with him beyond the grave.  When he was nearing death, he prayed fervently about the matter.  An angel appear to him and said, “Sorry, you can’t take all your wealth with you after death, but the Lord will allow you to take one suitcase.  Fill it with whatever you wish.”  Overjoyed, the man got the largest suitcase he could find and filled it with pure gold bars.  Soon afterward he died and showed up at the gates of heaven.  St. Peter, seeing the suitcase, said, “Hold on, you can’t bring that in here with you.”  The man explained how God had given him special permission.

“OK,” said St. Peter.  “You can bring the suitcase in with you, but first I must check its contents.”  He opened the suitcase to see what worldly items this man had considered too precious to leave behind.  “I don’t believe it!” exclaimed St. Peter.  “You brought pavement??”

 22 I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
In him there is no darkness at all;
the night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God:
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.
24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
“The exhortation warns present readers that the only way to participate in the future city is to turn one’s loyalties to the Lamb now.”
–Alan F. Johnson

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Music:

HERE  is “Jerusalem” beautifully sung by the incomparable Jessye Norman.

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New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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