Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 21:9-14

Revelation 21:9-14

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven final plagues came and spoke to me, saying, Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb! 10 So he took me away in the Spirit to a huge, majestic mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. 11 The city possesses the glory of God; its brilliance is like a precious jewel, like a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It has a massive, high wall with twelve gates, with twelve angels at the gates, and the names of the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel are written on the gates. 13 There are three gates on the east side, three gates on the north side, three gates on the south side and three gates on the west side. 14 The wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
(NET Bible)

New Jerusalem as the holiest place: introduction

I challenge you to examine what the world considers glorious. Just walk through a large bookstore and glance at the covers of a hundred magazines.If that is the pinnacle of human achievement, then I say we must search for true glory somewhere else. What do you think?

Grant Osborne[1] points out the significant fact that Revelation 21:9-22:5 can be divided into three sections: the first describes the prostitute of Babylon (17:1-19:5); the second describes the end of history and final judgment (19:6-21:8); the third describes the wife of the Lamb (21:9-22:5).

Verses 17:1-3 strongly contrast with 21:9-10. The personal choice between the prostitute of Babylon and the wife of the Lamb is a real-time conflict of allegiance for the seven churches in Johns day and it extends to us today.

To continue the comparison, John describes the adornment of the prostitute (17:4; 18:16-17a) and contrasts it with the beauty of the bride (21:11). The adornment of the prostitute was stripped away in a single hour but the beauty of the bridewill endure for eternity. The beauty of the New Jerusalem flows from the glory of God (21:11), where glory should probably be translated as radiance or splendor.[2] The beauty of the holy city is the beauty of God, and that has no limit!

The presence of a massive city wall is slightly surprising since all enemies have been vanquished. But if the wall does not represent safety, it does again delineate the basic difference between outside and inside. Consider that 22:15 says, Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the sexually immoral, and the murderers, and the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood! Angels stand at each gate (21:12) — reminding us of the angels who guarded the way into Eden (Gen. 3:24) — and the gates and foundation bear the names of the twelve tribes and twelve apostles to remind us that both believing Israel and the church belong within.

I expect that this more nuanced view of the new heaven and new earth will sound odd to you. Craig Keener[3] explains that Western Christendom has inherited an allegorical view of heaven [think of clouds with winged angels playing harps] from the philosophical views of some early interpreters. Instead, we should consider what the Bible says the scene will actually be, both inside and outside:

For just as the new heavens and the new earth I am about to make will remain standing before me, says the Lord, so your descendants and your name will remain. From one month to the next and from one Sabbath to the next, all people will come to worship me, says the Lord. They will go out and observe the corpses of those who rebelled against me, for the maggots that eat them will not die, and the fire that consumes them will not die out. All people will find the sight abhorrent.
(Isa. 66:22-24).

Live inside the New Jerusalem!

As you can tell, living inside the New Jerusalem is our aspiration. The one who makes it possible is the Lamb, a name for Jesus that occurs seven times from 21:9-22:3. It is the sacrificial death of Jesus on our behalf that makes our life in New Jerusalem possible. There is no other way!

The author of the book of Hebrews encourages us to think like the heroes of faith who lived before us: They aspire to a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them (Heb. 11:16). You have a treat in store — true glory!

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 745.

[2] BDAG-3, doxa, radiance, splendor, q.v.

[3] Craig S. Keener, Revelation, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000) 502.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 21:1–4

Revelation 21:1–4
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist, and the sea existed no more. 2 And I saw the holy city — the new Jerusalem —  descending out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more — or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.”
(NET Bible)

The new heaven and the new earth

Some ideas die hard. In the early 20th century, many people believed an idea from Émile Coué, a French psychologist, who said, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” Many thought the world was on the same track. But after World War I killed 16 million people and the influenza pandemic of 1918 killed at least 50 million people, such opinions soured.

Yet in 2007 a serious book was published with the title The Improving State of the World, again advancing the world-is-getting-better-and-better idea. Will humanity create heaven on earth?

Revelation 21:1-6 offers a summary of everything that will follow, and then verses 7-8 tell us how we must live in light of these things. The summary will “then be expanded in two directions, first viewing the Holy City as an eternal Holy of Holies (21:9–27) and then as a new Eden (22:1–5).”[1]

Here is a fact that some people do not accept easily: the new heaven and new earth are brought to us by God (21:2), not by humanity! The idea that humanity will save itself and transform the world into paradise is a lie! The beast took over the concept and presented his rule as the key.

The next development is a dramatic announcement from the throne of God (21:3–4) — “Look!” (21:3). The news deserving of such fanfare is that God will once again dwell among his people, but with some major differences compared to his past sojourns: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (21:4, ESV). Recall that the first time God lived among his people (Exodus & Numbers) an entire, unbelieving, rebellious generation, except for Joshua and Caleb, died in the wilderness without seeing the Promised Land. Yet, even in the midst of national sin during the later years of the Israelite kingdom, God promised a new heaven and new earth: “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind” (Isa. 65:17, NIV 2011).

The second time God lived among his people was when Jesus came to live among us. John 1:14 uses the same verb for “took up residence among us” that we find in Rev. 21:3 “will live among them”; this verb is only found in John’s Gospel and Revelation. Jesus and his disciples experienced great opposition, suffering and even death.

Of course, it is not accurate to say that God did not continue to dwell with his people after Jesus ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9). Jesus revealed to his disciples that after leaving them he would send the Holy Spirit to reside with them and live within them forever (John 14:15–17). The presence of the Spirit was unseen yet absolutely real.

But the dwelling of God with his people in the New Jerusalem will be personal, lasting and free from the suffering and opposition that characterized the first heaven and earth. The quality of life will be so far beyond our experience as to be quite beyond our conception. “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9, ESV).

Your forever-home!

Lots of people attempt to prepare for retirement, but it is costly. The only retirement worth having requires you to give your life to Jesus in return for eternity in splendor with God.

Jesus made promises to those who love him. One of the greatest is this one: “There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too.” (John 14:2-3). Nothing beats that!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.



[1] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 727.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 20:13-15

Revelation 20:13-15

The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each one was judged according to his deeds. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death the lake of fire. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, that person was thrown into the lake of fire.
(NET Bible)

Not a nice neighborhood!

Once when I was travelling by car on the east coast, I took a freeway exit and immediately found myself in the wrong neighborhood. All the drug dealers and assorted other professions were looking at me like fresh meat. There is a time in every mans life to admit you got lost. U-turn!

Moral #1: Know where you are going. Moral #2: Make sure a U-turn is possible. It would be good to think about that in relation to todays Bible passage.

The first thing to understand about 20:13 is that the word sea is symbolic. How do we know that? The answer is that heaven and earth have already vanished (20:11). Beale explains why we need to forget any romantic ideas we have about the literal sea: It is possible that the realm of evil (4:6; 13:1; 15:2), within which Satanic forces operate and which imprisons all unbelievers.[1] Mark that the new heaven and new earth have no sea.

So, the chaotic waves of the literal sea symbolize the dark, swirling, unknowable currents of evil that carry humanity away from God. It is not by accident that one of the beasts — the Antichrist — will rise from the sea (13:1). We are not in a good neighborhood when speaking of the sea in Revelation. The dead that were in [the sea] (20:13) are wicked dead, not deceased mariners.

Beale also brings clarity to the phrase Death and Hades (20:13) when he says: The first death (i.e. physical death) occurs until the present cosmos is destroyed. All unbelievers suffering the first death are held in the sphere of death and Hades, which is a temporary . . . holding tank to be finally replaced by the permanent . . . lake of fire.[2]

What do we conclude? Just as we saw with all the dead (20:12) appearing before the great white throne (20:11-12), all of the dead given up by the sea, by Death and by Hades are unbelievers headed for the lake of fire. And, again, each one is checked against the book of life (20:15) as a demonstration of strict justice, but none is recorded there. God waited for them patiently and with forbearance (Rom. 2:4), but not one of them ever decided to repent.

Getting shut of Death and Hades

My wife and I like to joke about getting shut of something (e.g. our income tax obligation or a Jehovahs Witness team). The Oxford English Dictionary traces the phrase back to the early 1500s. It means to be rid of, free from (something troublesome).

Our expectation of getting shut of Death and Hades is no joke! That they will be cast into the lake of fire shows that there will no longer be any need for them. This is another reason to worship Christ forever for what he has done for us!

Paul speaks of these amazing things when he quotes the prophets Isaiah and Hosea:

Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen,
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?
(1 Cor. 15:54-55).

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 1034.

[2] Beale, Revelation, 1030.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 21:5-8

Revelation 21:5-8

And the one seated on the throne said: Look! I am making all things new! Then he said to me, Write it down, because these words are reliable and true. 6 He also said to me, It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the one who is thirsty I will give water free of charge from the spring of the water of life. 7 The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But to the cowards, unbelievers, detestable persons, murderers, the sexually immoral, and those who practice magic spells, idol worshipers, and all those who lie, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. That is the second death.
(NET Bible)

All things new!

Shakespeare[1] has a beautifully crafted passage about lasting commitments:

His promises were as he then was, mighty.
But his performance, as he is now, nothing.

Are you truly thirsty for Christ and his living water? God is asking!

For a second time we have the dramatic summons Look! (21:5) as God himself speaks from his throne. When God says, I am making all things new! there is no question of his determination or ability. Those holding out against persecution need to feel the certainty of their salvation and reward. He further commands John to write down his reliable statement (21:5b).

While English translations generally say It is done! (21:6), there is no question the verb is plural and means: They are done![2] Whether this completion refers to all the events of history (Grant Osborne) or all the prophecies of the book (Greg Beale) or the creation of all the new things that comprise the new creation (also Beale) is hard to say. I prefer to think that the plural means that God has brought all the judgments — seals, trumpets, and bowls — to a close and has created everything necessary for the new heaven and new earth.

The one who declares the end of the old order and the beginning of the new order can say such astounding things because he is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (21:6). Beale[3] explains this title by saying that God transcends time, guides the entire course of history, and is sovereign over its beginning and its end.

Osborne[4] suggests that the one who is thirsty refers to those who have persevered and stayed faithful to Christ; he also compares them to the people who came to Jesus for living water (John 7:38). But Craig Keener[5] says that suffering alone in not sufficient; the believer must conquer (21:7) by not compromising with the worlds values in the face of persecution. The one who does so will inherit the spring of the water of life (21:6), which is a life of eternal fellowship with God.

But the water of life is not the only figurative liquid in question; there is also the lake of fire (21:8). The contrast to the conqueror (21:7) is the coward (21:8), whose final destination is the lake of fire. Naturally, this appeal to overcome is addressed to the people of the seven churches and to us who live before the time when the new heaven and earth emerge.

Obey the right thirst!

Only a corpse could fail to be attracted by the numerous advertising messages that appear nightly on television. It is unfortunate that the one thing that actually deserves such favorable attention, a thirst for God, is missing. Be very careful what thirst you quench!

At one of the great feasts in Jerusalem, Jesus said: If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, From within him will flow rivers of living water (John 7:37-38). John 7:39 explains that the living water is the Holy Spirit. If you have believed in Jesus, that living water flows within you at this very moment!

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] Henry VIII, act 4, scene 2, lines 41-2; Mark Antony to Octavia.

[2] G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 1054; Osborne has They are over, which he expands to These events are over, Revelation, 737 and 729, respectively.

[3] Beale, Revelation, 1055.

[4] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 738.

[5] Craig S. Keener, Revelation, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000)488.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 20:11–12

Revelation 20:11–12
Then I saw a large white throne and the one who was seated on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. Then books were opened, and another book was opened — the book of life. So the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to their deeds.
(NET Bible)

Final judgment of the unbelieving

When I was growing up, people considered it important to know your place. Generally speaking, the poor did not behave like the rich and the employee took a chewing out by the boss with as much grace as possible. In that era children were just children and might get corrected by any passing adult.

Now people of every class spend money like drunken sailors, using credit; aggrieved employees litigate or go postal, and children are the center of the family universe. Many things feel out of place. When Jesus concludes his Millennial reign, everything will again find its place. Where is yours?

It is remarkable that John can convey such a profound scene in such simple words. But the complexity in Revelation always lies near at hand, and this passage is no exception.

For John to say that “no place was found for them” (20:11) in reference to heaven and earth is an amazing reduction in the universe that constitutes humankind’s whole existence. The scene is reduced to God on his throne and those who are before him. Since heaven and earth have “fled from his presence” (20:11), there is no place to run, nowhere to hide. This is the day to settle accounts!

Who is standing before God’s great white throne? The dead (20:12) is John’s deceptively simple answer. It seems reasonable then to ask: who in particular are the dead? It cannot be those living ones who trusted in Christ during the Millennium, because they were defended by God in the camp of the saints (20:9) when all the unbelieving were destroyed by fire from heaven. Nor can the dead include those who were part of the first resurrection (20:6), who have already been raised to life and declared blessed and holy (20:6). All that remains is those previously described in this way: “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were finished” (20:5). Those are the unbelieving dead, and they are the ones standing before the great white throne.

Greg Beale describes the interpretation suggested above when he says, “It is possible that the righteous are not among those standing before the throne because they are identified with Christ, who is certainly not among the standing throng.”[1]

We have already seen this same division before when we considered the two harvests in Revelation 14:14–20. Christ’s harvest came first (14:14–16), and I identified that harvest as those who belong to Christ. The second harvest (14:17–20) gathered the grapes placed in the great winepress of the wrath of God (14:19), and that is what occurs in greater detail in Revelation 20:11–15. The wicked are shown the detailed proof of their guilt and judged according to what they have done.

While it is true that “another book was opened — the book of life” (20:12), this book is incidental to the process. It is probably checked to demonstrate clearly that no mistake has been made and to confirm the picture presented by the books listing deeds. Divine justice takes every protective step.

No one in this group before the throne is going to join the righteous with Christ. Before long they will wish for a return to the realm of the wicked dead ? Hades ? where things were better!

It doesn’t have to end this way!

As Christians, our place is with Christ. Repeatedly the NT emphasizes our union with Christ as the essential fact that governs our experience. On the Day of Judgment, that union will make all the difference. Our blessed service to Jesus will already be our assigned place on the day when others have to stand before the throne, a place they rightly dread.

Paul proclaims the confident expectation of all who are in union with Christ:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Rom. 8:38–39).

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.



[1] G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 1037.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 20:7-10

Revelation 20:7-10

Now when the thousand years are finished, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to bring them together for the battle. They are as numerous as the grains of sand in the sea. 9 They went up on the broad plain of the earth and encircled the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and devoured them completely. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are too, and they will be tormented there day and night forever and ever.
(NET Bible)

The power of denial

In graduate school there are a few perks. By that point the university is no longer putting you through flunk-out courses, and rarely does anyone ever get a grade lower than a C. The graduate school also figures that as a college graduate you should be able to understand the manual for graduate school. Life is good!

I was tightly focused on my final exam in quantum mechanics when a sleepy-eyed grad-student met the professor at the nearby classroom door. Sorry, Professor! I just didnt have time to study, so I guess Ill just have to take a C in the course.

Prof first looked puzzled, then sad, and said, Unfortunately, the grade for failing is F, not C. The sleepy grad student suddenly woke up! Ignorance and denial are a powerful combination, are they not?

For a thousand years (by this point) Jesus has ruled the world, which began the Millennium with a large unbelieving population that knew the grim result of Armageddon. But children may not learn what their parents know, and grandchildren remember even less. Old facts become old stories. Satan, confined in the abyss, is not present to deceive, but self-deception is ever popular!

Why will Satan be released from his prison (20:7) at the end of the Millennium? Robert Mounce explains that it happens to make plain that neither the designs of Satan nor the waywardness of the human heart will be altered by the mere passage of time.[1]

To put this explanation into other words, some might say that God was unfair to punish committed sinners since it was Satan who actually caused all the trouble. But removing Satan from the scene and putting the world under Christs righteous rule demonstrates that the tendency to rebel against God does not start with Satan or unfortunate circumstances. Shakespeare put these words in the mouth of one of his characters: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.[2] Indeed it is.

Grant Osborne speaks of the deceived nations when he says, After fourteen lifetimes of enforced good . . . as soon as Satan is released, they allow themselves to be deceived all over again.[3] The number committed to rebellion against Christ is far larger than that within the camp of the saints (20:9), but they are destroyed completely by fire from heaven (20:9). This is their first death, but a second will soon follow!

How miserably the rebels will fail soon becomes apparent. The devil will be hurled into the lake of fire where he will join the beast and the false prophet, and they will be tormented there day and night forever and ever (20:10). The redundant phrases day and night and forever and ever (20:10) combine to mean without pause and without end. Demonic spirits have long known this would be their end (Matt. 8:29; Mark 5:7; Luke 8:28). I think those who joined Satans rebellion refused to believe they would ever reach this punishment. Denial and ignorance will fail spectacularly!

Wishful thinking

Some years ago it occurred to me that those who become disillusioned were somehow illusioned in the first place! [Forgive me for making up a new word.] Those who rebel against God simply do not take images like the lake of fire seriously. The problem is that our thinking that something is so or is not so has no bearing on its factual existence. In some matters it simply is not reasonable to take such a chance of being wrong.

Paul Shepherd is one of my favorite Bible teachers. He says his mission is to do permanent damage to spiritual ignorance. That is a mission which can save a lot of lives, and you can adopt it yourself!

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material developed for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, Rev. Ed., The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997) 371.

[2] Julius Caesar, act 1, scene 2, lines 138139.

[3] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 703.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 20:4-6

Revelation 20:4-6

Then I saw thrones and seated on them were those who had been given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. These had not worshiped the beast or his image and had refused to receive his mark on their forehead or hand. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were finished.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who takes part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
(NET Bible)

A rough sketch of the Millennium

It only takes a glance at the face of a child, crushed by finishing second, to know that our culture is cruel for insisting that first place is all that matters. At times there is more discussion going on about how to determine the best college football team than there is to figure out how to feed those going hungry. That is a measure with our obsession to be first.

Fortunately for us, the one time it is essential to be first — taking part in the first resurrection — is within the reach of anyone. It requires giving your life to Jesus. Finishing second is for those who prefer an eternity of suffering. Will you be among the first to rise?

Revelation 20:4 is an enigma, and other parts of the Bible must come to the interpreters rescue. In particular, Jesus has promised that the twelve apostles will judge Israel in the kingdom while sitting on thrones (Luke 22:30). That may partly explain who are those who had been given authority to judge (20:4).

Before you get to thinking that you will spend the Millennium at the French Riviera, consider that Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 6:2a that Christians will also be involved in judging the world. Besides, the Riviera probably falls with Babylon. :)

Consider too that the camp of the saints (20:9) should reasonably include all who take part in the first resurrection. Accordingly, Grant Osborne says, All the saints — those persevering during the OT, NT, church age, and tribulation periods — will be present during this final period of history.[1]

The rule of all the saints with Christ during the Millennium requires that the faithful dead must be resurrected. Revelation 20:5 calls this the first resurrection. It adds that the rest of the dead — who by elimination must be the unbelieving dead — will not rise until the end of the Millennium. Osborne[2] explains that for unbelievers who die, the next conscious thought will be when they face Gods judgment at the great white throne (20:11-15). Craig Keener[3] points out that the resurrection to damnation is so horrible that it is given the name second death (20:6; 20:14) rather than second resurrection. That is a somber thought indeed.

When discussing the honor and blessing due those who take part in the first resurrection, John explains three advantages (20:6): (1) the second death cannot touch them; (2) they will represent God and Christ to the people as priests; and (3) they will rule with Christ for a thousand years. I plan to ask for Bariloche (Argentina) and Mount Hood (Oregon), so, hands off! [Both feature mountains and lakes, and God made them beautiful.]

Alternatives

Of course, the world will offer you many alleged ways to be first, and the Scriptures support the idea that sin may be pleasurable for a time (Heb. 11:25). The problem with that path is that it ends with the second death rather than the first resurrection. That is not acceptable!

When Jesus was executed as a capital criminal, it appeared that he was anything but first. But Paul explains:

As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:9-11)

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material developed for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 705.

[2] Osborne, Revelation, 708.

[3] Craig S. Keener, Revelation, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000) 467.