Sunday – December 6, 2015 Revelation 8:1-13 “The Worst is Yet to Come”

Sunday – December 6, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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Revelation 8:13
“Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”

I think most of us would agree at the outset that these prophetic books are among the most difficult parts of the Bible to interpret or to read with understanding. We shouldn’t be embarrassed to admit we have difficulty reading the prophets. In referring to the prophets, Martin Luther once said the following: “They have a queer way of talking, like people who, instead of proceeding in an orderly manner, ramble off from one thing to the next so that you cannot make heads or tails of them or see what they are getting at.” Now that is a comment to which I can relate.

The primary difficulty for most modern readers of the prophets stems from an inaccurate understanding of the words “prophet” and “prophecy.” The word prophet refers to one who tells forth (or proclaims), as well as one who foretells. But we often limit the meaning of prophecy to foretelling the future, so many Christians refer to the prophets only for predictions about Christ’s first coming, or his second coming, and the end times as though prediction of events far distant to their own day was their main concern.

It should be pointed out that less than 2% of Old Testament prophecy is messianic. Less than 5% specifically concerns the New Covenant age. The prophets did indeed announce the future, but it was usually the immediate future of Israel, Judah, and the surrounding nations, not our future – except here in the Book of Revelation. To see the prophets as primarily predictors of future events is to miss their primary function, which was, in fact, to speak for God to their contemporaries.

Through the prophets, God makes predictions of imminent doom using the device of the “woe,” and no Israelite could miss the significance of the use of that word. Woe oracles contain, either explicitly or implicitly, three elements that uniquely characterize this form: an announcement of distress (the word “Woe,” for example), the reason for the distress, and a prediction of doom. You can read Habakkuk 2:6-8 as an example of a woe oracle spoken against Babylon. The oracle announces “woe” in Verse 6. The reason is also given in Verse 6, where Babylon is personified as a thief and extortionist. Disaster is predicted in Verses 7-8, when all those Babylon has oppressed will one day rise up against it.

So what was it the prophets were seeking in their ministry? You might say restoration and a restored covenant relationship with God. Yes, that was the ultimate goal. But what the prophets truly sought was repentance. Restoration was the goal, but repentance is what they hoped to see from the people. In fact, this message of the prophets was so prevalent that Zechariah (one of the last prophets) was able to sum up in one sentence all the prophets that preceded him: “the earlier prophets proclaimed: Thus says the Lord of Hosts, turn from your evil ways and doings,” (Zechariah 1:4). The heart of Revelation is that all would come to repentance so that none would perish. And this is one reason the study of Revelation is so important to the church today.

Sunday – November 1, 2015 Revelation 5:1-7 “Worthy to Open the Book”

Sunday – November 1, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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Revelation 5:4-5
Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”

John sees a strong angel — an angelic messenger of God — one of the unfallen angels all of whom are personally interested in man’s redemption and in this book. We also see that he speaks with a loud voice, undoubtedly to emphasize the importance of this question and to penetrate all of the universe with the question posed: “Who is worthy to open the book and break its seals?” It is the greatest question of all time — who is worthy? This scene dramatically calls our attention to the problem. There was no one qualified in any place in the universe to open it, or even look into it.

John is mesmerized by God the Father and the scroll in His right hand. And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it” (5:2-3). This unnamed, strong angel asks the question of the ages: “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” One with sufficient authority and worthiness was necessary to open the scroll and by breaking its seals to unleash the judgments on the world that it contained. Any prophet could have revealed this information but it took someone with adequate power to execute the events foretold, as well as to reveal and bring them to pass. This strong angel goes on a universal search and discovers that no angel, no created being, no human being, no creature, no spirit, and no one can open the scroll.

This futile search almost crushed John’s heart. He dissolved emotionally. The future of the world seemed too bleak to face. John’s continual weeping reflected his sorrow that God’s future kingdom and final judgment appear to be indefinitely postponed because no one had sufficient authority to open the scroll. Did this mean that the wrongs of earth would not be dealt with? Does this mean that the righteous will never be vindicated and that the wicked will go unpunished? John understood that if God’s purposes fail, then all of life is meaningless. If no one can open the scroll, none of God’s purposes will come to pass.

The sad truth is: without Christ there will be only weeping. The good news is that Jesus Christ will open the scroll. He has already achieved victory over all God’s enemies and therefore had the authority to open the scroll and to release its contents. The “Lion that is from the tribe of Judah” and the “Root of David” are Old Testament titles of the Messiah who would fulfill the promises of salvation and would rule. As God’s ultimate Anointed One, Jesus alone possessed the authority necessary for this task. He overcame Satan, sin, and death so He could implement God’s purposes for the future that this scroll revealed. Only Christ can carry out God’s final purposes on earth.

Sunday June 7, 2015 “The Man Who Cried for God to Come Down” Isaiah 63

Sunday – June 7, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

Sunday June 7, 2015 “The Man Who Cried for God to Come Down” Isaiah 63 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

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Isaiah 63:17
“Why, O Lord, do You cause us to stray from Your ways and harden our heart from fearing You? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage.”

Through God’s Spirit, the prophet Isaiah saw a desperate future time in Israel’s history. Because Isaiah predicted conditions that would take place about 100 years after he wrote (after the Babylonians conquered Judah), liberal critics have said that Isaiah couldn’t have written this. But I believe that God revealed the future to the prophet and led him to pray this prayer as a gracious way of teaching us how to lay hold of Him and His power in times of great spiritual need.

Isaiah pictures God as shut up in heaven, removed from His people who are suffering because of their sin. In an emotional outburst, the prophet calls upon God to rend the heavens and come down in great power, even as He did at Sinai, to restore His people and to make His name known among the nations. His point is that complacency with the existing low spiritual condition among God’s people is the enemy of revival. Remember the lukewarm church at Laodicea? They were content: “We’re rich and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” But God’s evaluation was that they were “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

I know of two ways to keep from lapsing into lukewarmness and thinking that it is normal. First, steep yourself in the Bible so much that when you hear of the worldliness of the modern church, you are appalled. God’s Word must shape our worldview.Second, read church history and read some of the great men of God from the past. You will learn how God has worked in history, and you will read men who were not tainted by our modern worldview. But the fact that they wrote in a different time and culture will often jar you to see how far we have drifted. That is the start of revival praying – when some of God’s people begin to feel the lack of His working in our day.

Never before has the church had so many methods available to us, but at the same time, so little experience of the power of God. Christians need to know the living God in a deeper way. Also, we need to entreat God to pour out His Spirit through a revived church, so that His power in salvation would turn millions in repentance and faith to Him.