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“O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond searching out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?” Romans 11:33-34
God is infinite.
His eternality is only one facet of this truth. It is His infinite nature in regards to the aspect of time.
But everything that God is, He is so infinitely.
No one can calculate the depth of His wisdom, or knowledge, or great love. No one can comprehend the fullness of His truth or the holiness of His justice. No one can give thanks in equal measure to His goodness and mercy. No one can appraise His riches or quantify any aspect of God in anyway. Because–while He Created the order of logic that governs mathematics–He Himself cannot be contained or defined by numbers.
He is God. He is infinite–that is He has no limits, no one and nothing bounds Him in.
We are limited in every way. But in this, and every human weakness, God shows Himself strong in our lives–if we allow Him to [2 Corinthians 12:9-11]. A fact that King Belshazzar was reminded of the hard way.
The hand appeared out of thin air and inscribed on the wall for all to read: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN. Mene and Parsin spoke specifically to Belshazzar’s kingdom, but Tekel speaks to us all.
TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting [Daniel 5:27].
To be weighed on a balance scale, there must be something or someone that we are being weighed against–a measure that we need to match. Being perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect [Matthew 5:48]. Being sinless just as Christ was sinless [2 Corinthians 5:21]. Things that we can never attain by our own works [Ephesians 2:8-9]. An infinite plumb line measures our finite existence. Boundless righteousness measures the filthy rags of our most humane works [Isaiah 64:6]. The sinlessly perfect heart of Christ is weighed against our own sinfully rebellious one.
Is there any wonder that we are found wanting?
Only God Himself can meet up to this measure of Godliness. And He gladly did so for our sakes. He lovingly sacrificed His perfect Son Jesus for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:13]. Christ became our righteousness, making peace with God on our behalf [Romans 5:18-21; Ephesians 2:14-18].
Our finite, sinful hearts can never balance in the scales as compared to the infinite, righteous heart of Christ–but it doesn’t have to . By God’s grace, all we need to do to balance the heavenly scales of judgment is accept Christ by faith [John 3:16]. When we do, His heart takes our place. Mercifully, God weighs Jesus’s heart against Jesus in our heart, and the scale balances.
Will you accept God’s infinite love for you? Will you accept His infinite grace in finite faith? Or will you insist on weighing your human effort on the scales and be found wanting?
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:19-23
Veiled in flesh, the Christmas hymn sings. Hail th’incarnate Deity.
Veiled means to be covered in or hidden behind. Flesh is human skin, while incarnate means that God came in that human skin. Deity is God. And hail means to enthusiastically praise in public.
We so often sing, quote, read and hear things that we’ve never really thought about. Words that we know by heart whose meanings have never penetrated the self-same heart.
God is beyond comprehension, self-existent and self-sufficient [amongst other things that we will soon get to], yet many see in the person of Jesus, just a person. Since He was able to be looked upon without people falling dead in His presence, then somehow–if in fact, Jesus is who the scriptures say He is–the Old Testament stories about God the Father must just be lore.
Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar, [Romans 3:4]! THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY by theologian A.W. Tozer puts it this way, “the Man who walked among us was a demonstration, not of unveiled deity, but of perfect humanity.” Jesus was fully God, but He didn’t expose us to the awful glory of the Godhead because no one could’ve survived it. Rather, being also fully Man–a perfectly sinless man–He clothed His deity to walk among us.
Jesus is the holy standard that we live to attain. We will never be perfectly sinless in this life, but when we grow in our relationship with Him, we learn what it is that God truly desires for each of our lives. He works the sin out of our hearts like a therapist massaging the knots out of strained muscles, and we become more like Him with each moment lived by faith.
Let us be oh so careful not to diminish the awesome power of God in our understanding based on the approachable smile of the painted reminiscences of His Son. But let us live a life worthy of the calling set before us [Philippians 3:14], having the covering of our own human sinfulness removed from our hearts [Deuteronomy 10:12-17, 30:6; Romans 9:25-29]. So that the Word of God can penetrate soft soil rather than ricochet off the hardened heart [Mark 4:8 & 20; Hebrews 3:8 & 15].
What is the condition of your heart–ready to receive God’s Word or impenetrable, hard-pan soil?
“Then he told me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.’ ‘Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.'” Revelation 22:10-12
Books, in John’s day, primarily referred to scrolls–though stitched codices of papyrus also existed which were more like modern books. Scrolls were sealed to ensure that only the intended recipient read what was written and so that it could not be tampered with. But the angel instructs John not to seal this letter before sending it to the churches.
Why not? Because the time to read it is now. And everyone is the intended recipient.
Unlike the prophetic visions given to Daniel which were to happen so long from when Daniel wrote that God commanded them to be sealed until the appropriate time [8:26]. Many fictions have been written, imagining how people in the past would respond to visitors, technology or information from the distant future. It never goes well. Mostly because sinful human beings can’t handle this kind of understanding. They exploit it for selfish gain, rather than use it to the glory of God as they ought.
Moreover, in Daniel’s day, people received the messianic prophecies and needed to focus their minds on understanding these so they would recognize Jesus when He came. Prophecies that concerned the end of the Creation–things that would happen well after the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry–were not easily processed since the Messiah hadn’t yet come.
But now in John’s day, the angel says to let everyone continue in their own way. The time is so near to Jesus’ return, that those who refuse to acknowledge God and live Godly lives–despite the light in the world–are to be left to their own demise. We are to shine the light of Christ into the darkness of the world, though they refuse to perceive it [John 1:5]. We are to learn and understand God’s Word. To study and show ourselves approved [2 Timothy 2:15]. To go into all nations making disciples and baptizing [Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15-16].
More than that, we are to let the Word of God permeate and wholly change our lives [James 1:24]. Those who accept and believe will be rewarded for the things the gospel works through them. But those who do not believe will be condemned [Mark 16:15-16].
The time to know, understand and live the Word of God is now. Do you?
“No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. The angel said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.'” Revelation 22:3-6
The curse of sin will be wiped away [Genesis 3:14-19; Zechariah 14:11; Revelation 7:15-17], because God will dwell there with us. And where He is, sin cannot be also [1 John 3:8-10]. And in ancient times, criminals were banished from the presence of the king. They could never hope to have an audience with him.
But the New Jerusalem is the true Holy of Holies that was foreshadowed in the earthly tabernacle and temple, and, this time, everyone will be able to stand in His presence and live–not just a sanctified priest making a right sacrifice.
For only the pure in heart–the forgiven–will enter heaven and see God [Matthew 5:8]–we who have believed on His Son Jesus [John 3:16] and, by God’s grace, have been made righteous through that faith [Ephesians 2:8-9]. We will bear Christ’s name on our foreheads just as the one’s who were sealed in the Great Tribulation [Revelation 14:1]. And just as God commanded His chosen people nearly 3,400 years ago, we who love the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and strength we who have His commands written on our hearts and bound to our foreheads, we who make our earthly dwelling with God will have our eternal dwelling with Him as well [Deuteronomy 6:4-8; John 14:2-3].
God Himself is our light–here on this earth and forevermore [Psalm 119:105; John 1:4-12; Revelation 21:23-25]. Every other light source is just a makeshift copy and pattern of God’s true splendor. And just as the shards of precious gems and gold in the earth should turn our eyes to the heaven for which we were made, so also should the sight of light turn our hearts to Him who is light. It should call to remembrance the eternity that God set in our hearts [Ecclesiastes 3:11] and, understanding, draw us closer to Him.
Everything points our attention back to our Creator and loving Father God, the Almighty, the Sovereign of all. Everything from rocks to light are here to remind every human being who we truly are–God’s Holy people, set apart from the Creation [Daniel 7:27] with the express intention that we should rule the earth [Revelation 20:4]. Instead, sin gives Satan the authority that is rightly ours. He becomes the prince and ruler of the air [John 14:30; Ephesians 2:2]. In deceiving us to think that we can be our god [Genesis 3:5; Isaiah 14:14], the devil has actually set himself up as the god of this earthly age [2 Corinthians 4:4].
But the faithful will and have already overcome by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. We will no only inherit eternal life, but we will rule and reign with Him forever and ever, just as He always intended. And, these word are true, spoken by the One Who Is Truth [Revelation 19:9 & 21:5]. You can take them to the bank of heaven and live [Matthew 6:19-20].
Do you see by the makeshift lights of earth–lamps and torches, sun, moon and stars? Or are your eyes full of the light of truth [Matthew 6:22-23]?
“It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on the them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Revelation 21:12-14
Recently exiled to Babylon, a prophet arose among the Israelites–Ezekiel. He had the distinct travail of bringing a message of destruction to his fellow expatriates. They would not be returning any time soon to their homeland as they had hoped. Rather they would hear of their sacred temple burning to the ground.
But Ezekiel was also given the message of eternal hope. Israel–and all the nations–would one day stand judgment before God. Their words and actions weighed in the heavenly balance [Daniel 5:27]. The faithful would see Jerusalem restored like never before and the temple refashioned in all its heavenly glory. In this, Ezekiel’s fourth and final vision [Ezekiel 48], we find a description of the New Jerusalem much like the one here in Revelation 21:12, with the primary difference being that of size.
The city of Ezekiel’s vision had walls totaling 18,000 cubits or 6 miles around, while John’s vision of the New Jerusalem has four walls each 12,000 stadia or 1,400 miles long. Which means that each wall will be about as long as the distance from New York City to Oklahoma City. And each wall is just as high as it is long. A giant cube!
Both Temple visions show us that there will be three gates on each of the four city walls. Maps of the original city, show anywhere from 8-12 gates, with the city being a somewhat long, skinny, misshapen oval–not unlike an upside down, mini-Israel. Jerusalem has gone through several different wall building stages in its history. Through the years, gate names included: Dung Gate, Fountain Gate, Water Gate, Horse Gate, East Gate, Master Gate, Sheep Gate, Fish Gate, Old Gate and Valley Gate. Probably so named for the main transport through each.
The New Jerusalem, however, will be a perfect square–perfect being the operative holy standard. Three gates on each wall, like the triune godhead. And the gates will be named for the 12 tribes of Israel, because people have always been the ones whom God intended to enter His gates. The twelve foundations each with an apostles’ name [Acts 1:13 & 26], again showing that heaven is not just for God’s chosen nation, Israel, but for the church as well [Revelation 4:4]. For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13], who believes on Jesus and Him crucified [John 3:16], whose name is found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life [Revelation 13:8, 20:15 & 21:27], the redeemed, the forgiven will be saved and enter these gates with thanksgiving [Psalm 100:4].
The wall will be high, speaking of the wealth and splendor and might of God. The gates attended by angels–those beings who never faltered in their reverence for and worship of the Most High. Just as everything was perfectly prepared in anticipation for our arrival nearly 6,000 years ago on Day 6 of the Creation [Genesis 1], so is heaven perfectly prepared and ready to receive us back into the arms of our loving Father God [Luke 15:20-24 & 32].
Have you been made new? Will you enter the gates of the New Jerusalem with eternal thanksgiving? Or the lake of fire with eternal lament?
“This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth–Gog and Magog–to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20:5b-10
If there is a first resurrection, then there must also be a second resurrection. Later in this same chapter [Revelation 20:11-15] a second resurrection is described, though not so named. It occurs when the dead are raised at the white throne judgment. These dead will be judged for their deeds, and, their names not being found in the Book of Life, will be cast into the lake of burning sulfur with Satan for all eternity–the second death.
Chronologically, the millennial reign, first resurrection, Satan’s doom and second resurrection and death are difficult to pinpoint within the rest of the end time narrative. On one hand, the saints as judges comes after the antichrist [Revelation 13 & 16:2 & 10-11] because it includes those who resisted his reign [Revelation 20:4]. On the other hand, when Satan is released, he gathers the nations for battle [Revelation 21:8] just as is done for the battle of Armageddon [Revelation 16:14-16]. So is this a second battle after the millennial reign, or is scripture showing zoomed-in-and-out pieces of the end times timeline as it did with the Creation account?
More importantly are the key players–Gog and Magog. First mentioned in Ezekiel 38 & 39, Magog was a descendant of Japheth son of Noah and was prophesied to be joined by Cush and Put, descendants of Ham son of Noah. These two Gentile lineages here represent the wayward world, standing for one final rebellion against God.
In true Satan counterfeit fashion, the armies that battle God will number as many as the sand on the seashore–a number equivalent to the promised descendants of Abraham [Genesis 22:17; Hebrews 11:12]. They will march on God’s people–originally the line of Shem son of Noah, though now including all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ [John 3:16].
As the adversary encircles the holy city–counterfeit to the Israelites marching around Jericho to take hold of the Promised Land–fire falls and consumes them. A fire to which the generations offered their children in direct opposition to God [Leviticus 18:21 & 2 Kings 23:10, et al; Jeremiah 19:15]. A fire in which Christ stood with Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah [Daniel 3:25]. A fire that washes everyone who stands against God to their eternal demise with the father of deception, Satan.
Regardless of when the 1,000 years occurs and whether or not all believers will be resurrected to live through it, our citizenship is the most important thing. Is your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Have you accepted Jesus’ redemption of your heavenly citizenship?
“I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)” Revelation 20:4-5a
These judges’ thrones were prophesied since the time of Daniel [Daniel 7:9]. Though all authority in heaven and earth belongs to Jesus [Matthew 28:18], He gives the authority to sit in judgment over Satan, his antichrist and his unholy prophet, to those martyred for their faith [Revelation 6:9 & 20:4]. Like a jury for the Holy Judge, those who hold true to their faith even to the point of death, show themselves worthy to render this final verdict with Christ [Daniel 7:26-27].
They did not give in to the threat of physical death, because they understood the bigger picture of eternity.
The millennial reign of Christ mentioned here is the same duration of Satan’s prison sentence, locked in the Abyss, before his final doom in the lake of burning sulfur.
According to this passage, only martyrs get the blessing of being raised to rule and reign with Christ during this millennium. It seems to clearly state here that other believers who have died will remain dead until after this time has passed. However, scripture often indicates that when we die, we go straight to heaven–to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord [Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8]. So is this an inconsistency in scripture?
Not at all.
This seems to be an example where the English translation misconstrues the meaning of the original language. In the Greek, the conjunction kai—and–comes between the phrases describing the martyrs and those resisting the beast. Meaning that this is a list of more than one group of people, not a continuing description attributed to only the martyrs.
The church of Smyrna was encouraged to hold on–through testing and suffering, imprisonment, persecution and even martyrdom–and they would not be affected by this second death, the lake of fire [Revelation 2:10-11 & 20:14]. Not everyone would be martyred, but the victorious–everyone who held firm to their faith through whatever trials came their way–would be counted with those who gave their lives as the ultimate expression of faith.
Are you living victoriously by standing firm in your faith? Do you live with your eyes fixed on eternity?