Posted by: bellissimanh | June 26, 2008

Revelations from Revelation

Our church has been studying Revelation in the morning service for over a year now. Aside from the messages to the different churches in the first few chapters, I had never given Revelation too much thought before. I knew that some people found it fascinating, and I actually always kind of poo-poohed them and thought (full of self-righteousness and spiritual superiority) that it was such a waste for them to be so obsessed with eschatology when there was REAL truth to be learned and lived.

Although I held to a pre-trib viewpoint, I always joked and said that I was “pan-trib”… whatever happens, it will all pan out because the Lord will carry me through it. I still believe that. I don’t know when the rapture will occur in the final timeline for sure. I still don’t think we can be dogmatic about it (or much of the other events depicted in Revelation)… but the Lord has given me a newfound fascination for Revelation. I’m not interested in discussing it ad-nauseum with anyone who will listen…. or studying end times to the exclusion of the rest of Scripture… but I do have a new appreciation for the treasures found within this final book of the Scriptures.

In studying Revelation, I was amazed by how much of the Old Testament was woven into Revelation… connections that I never had made before, because I hadn’t taken the time to dive in.

I love some of the lessons I have taken with me. I have previously shared one that touched me deeply (I Sing a New Song!).

I love some of the symbolism that — had I not studied it — I would have completely missed or skipped over. Here are just a few of the things that have struck me over the last couple of weeks.

1. “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.” (Rev. 21:1)

I believe the fact that there is no more sea will be a physical reality. I have no reason to doubt that… but I have also come to believe that there may be a deeper meaning behind the absence of the sea.

In Genesis 7:11, the Lord brought judgment on the world through the flood.

In Exodus 14:28, the sea opened for the Israelites to pass through, and then covered Pharoah and his army.

In Isaiah 27:1 we are told that Leviathan, the fleeing serpent who would be slain made his home in the sea.

In Daniel 7:3 we learn that the four vicious Gentile powers seen by Daniel arose from the sea.

And in Revelation 13:1 the Antichrist comes from the sea.

So in light of all this, isn’t it possible that perhaps the reason there is no more sea in heaven is because of its negative connotation? I don’t know for sure… but it’s interesting, isn’t it? What if there’s no more sea to emphasize the fact that God’s judgment is final, and over… and there is no more need of the sea?

2. In John’s vision of the New Jerusalem in Rev. 21:19 it says that the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones. It lists them.

“The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.” (Rev. 21:19-20)

Now check this out… those are the same stones used in the breastplate of the high priests (Ex. 28:15-21). The prerogatives once reserved for the high pries now belong to the entire city! There is no need for that mediator anymore… for Christ has become the Mediator between God and man, and we are all given priestly responsibilities. I know that this is true the moment we come to salvation, but still… I love that God illustrates it in such a beautiful way – by adorning the foundations of the city with those jewels!

3. Pearly Gates – The pearly gates have been talked about forever. Our hymns speak about them… secular songs talk about them… jokes make mention of them. They have come to be almost synonymous with Heaven itself.  I never once, in all my life, have ever stopped to wonder… why gates made of pearls? Until this study of Revelation.

Pearls symbolize great value. I never thought about the fact that pearls came from an unclean animal (oysters – Lev. 11:10). Jesus Himself bought the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46, and I can’t help but wonder if the fact that the gate is made of pearl might stand as a testimony to the fact that the redeemed from among the Gentiles, who responded to God in faith, are no longer considered unclean and may pass through the gates just as the Jews may. Remember Paul’s vision in Acts 10?

 

 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

(Acts 10:9-16)

I totally realize that I could be reading more into these passages than is there… but I don’t believe that anything in my interpretation contradicts Scripture, and to me… these gems tucked away in this book that I never took the time to study before… they just emphasize all over again how perfectly the whole of Scripture fits together. How anyone can look at God’s Word and NOT see it as being the Word of God is beyond me. There is too much prophecy perfectly fulfilled. There are too many pieces of the puzzle that line up identically with the rest. There are common threads woven throughout that just can’t be coincidence… and it would be impossible for all these different authors to pull it all together like that — unless each and every word of it truly is God-breathed.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

  

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