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Almost all of the materials posted in this blog were prepared for Christ Fellowship, a Christ-centered, caring church in McKinney, Texas. During this blog’s first three years, we have reached people in 143 countries with information designed “to explain the Bible and honor Christ.” It would be a pleasure to meet you at my home church!  (more info)

Since many of you live outside of the McKinney, Texas, area, we encourage you to gather every week with other believers at a church that honors Jesus as the crucified and resurrected Son of God and treats the Bible as God’s infallible Word. If that is sometimes not possible, we invite you to join our streamed, interactive church services at Christ Fellowship Online (CLICK HERE).

Christ Fellowship Online streams our church services, including great Christian music and some of the best preaching you can hear anywhere! Volunteers are also available to answer your questions, pray with you and help you find and follow Jesus Christ — all though an interactive web interface! (CLICK HERE)

Schedule:

Sundays  @ 9:00 am, 10:45 am, 12:30 pm and 7:00 pm CDT {UTC -5:00}

Wednesdays  @ 8:00 pm CDT {UTC -5:00}

Copyright © 2013 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 22:6–9

Revelation 22:6–9
Then the angel said to me, “These words are reliable and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must happen soon.”
7 (Look! I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy expressed in this book.)
8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things, and when I heard and saw them, I threw myself down to worship at the feet of the angel who was showing them to me. 9 But he said to me, “Do not do this! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets, and with those who obey the words of this book. Worship God!”
(NET Bible)

Spoiler alert

One of the big principles in American law is giving notice. The idea is that you are given adequate knowledge in advance of a needed response or decision you must make. Generally, this advance knowledge and your required actions must be put into writing.

Through John and the angels, God is putting us on notice that obedience and perseverance are required in response to the disclosures God is making to us through his agents. What will you do with the holy summons?

If you analyze this biblical text for frequency, “words” occurs three times, and the combination prophets-prophecy-prophets also grabs attention. When you combine that knowledge with the statement from Jesus in 22:7 — “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy expressed in this book” — you have to realize that obedience to the challenge to overcome is a crucial theme in Revelation.

Greg Beale[1] says that the purpose of Revelation is to induce obedience among God’s people and supports his statement by pointing out that eight of the final fifteen verses exhort or warn toward that goal. This general theme is stated a little differently by Grant Osborne[2], who says that perseverance is the primary theme of the book.

When Jesus says that the one who obeys is blessed (22:7), the previous context describing the splendor of the New Jerusalem fills that word with substance that had not previously been revealed.

John again puts considerable emphasis on his own eyewitness testimony (22:8). These visions and words are not idle thoughts or a creation of John’s own mind, and he makes that very clear to his readers.

Understandably, John is once again overcome by what he has seen and heard, and he falls down to worship the angel (22:8). The angel rebukes John in a manner virtually identical to 19:10. Explaining John’s lapse, Osborne[3] says that the two almost identical incidents serve as bookends for the material from 19:11 to 22:5, which includes the end of the former age and the creation of the new heaven and earth. The angel again stresses to John the equality of angels with the saints and prophets who all serve God. Note the particular emphasis on “those who obey the words of this book” (22:9).

The angel’s words “Worship God!” (22:9) do not in this context mean to sing praise songs or any of the other activities normally associated with corporate worship. Instead they mean to worship God by persevering and staying in readiness for the any-moment return of Christ.

To be or not to be?

Osborne[4] makes the telling point that every passage in the NT on the imminent return of Jesus ends with a demand to walk worthily of the Lord because he is coming soon.

The thing is, in an hour from this moment your decisive interview with Jesus may be over!

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) 1122.

[2] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 782-783.

[3] Osborne, Revelation, 784.

[4] Osborne, Revelation, 783.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 4:8–11

Revelation 4:8–11
Each one of the four living creatures had six wings and was full of eyes all around and inside. They never rest day or night, saying: “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God, the All-Powerful, Who was and who is, and who is still to come!”
9 And whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders throw themselves to the ground before the one who sits on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever, and they offer their crowns before his throne, saying: 11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created!”
(NET Bible)

The difficulty of heavenly visions

If you have ever gone camping overnight, then you know how refreshing it can be to walk into a fire-lighted area from the surrounding darkness. The closer you get to the fire, the brighter the light becomes. Also, if you want to warm cold hands, you must move closer to the campfire. Often, someone will say, “That fire is terrific!”

The same principles hold true when we draw closer to God. The closer we come to God, the greater will be the compulsion to cry out with praise. Our worship tells a lot about how close we are to God. Where does that standard put you?

Revelation 4:6b–7 is as good a place as any to admit that we do not understand every verse in the Bible with an equal amount of clarity. The interpretation of today’s biblical text requires more speculation than usual.

It appears that the four earthly creatures (lion, ox, man, eagle) were chosen to focus on certain qualities being ascribed to the “four living creatures” (4:6b–7) beside God’s throne. Osborne adds, “In essence, all we can know for certain is that [the four living creatures] represent the highest order of celestial beings, perhaps angels, and lead in worship and judgment.”[1]

 The Bible places great emphasis on the unceasing worship by the four living creatures (4:8). Their worship is continuous, day and night (4:8), and we will soon see that the twenty-four elders join this worship. The conclusion is inescapable: those closest to God worship him with the greatest frequency and intensity.

Concerning the cry “Holy holy holy” (4:8), Osborne says: “The ‘holiness’ of God here points to his separation from the created order. He is ‘Wholly Other,’ standing above the world and soon to judge it.”[2] Keener looks at the totality of what is said about God in 4:8 when he says, “Worship is not the invention of nice things to say about God; it is the recognition of who God already is (4:8), as well as what he has already done or promised to do (4:11; 5:9–12), and how worthy he is of our praise (4:11; 5:12–14).”[3]

The worship offered by the four living creatures triggers corresponding worship by the twenty-four elders (4:9). Note that they “offer their crowns before his throne” (4:10). Keener[4] explains that a common sign of allegiance from an inferior to a great king was a taking off of the crown by the conquered ruler and placing that crown at the feet of the conqueror. The twenty-four elders have ruling authority, but they carry out that authority in complete submission to God.

What does all this have to do with our worship as a church? Beale says: “One of the purposes of the church meeting on earth in its weekly gatherings (as in 1:3, 9) is to be reminded of its heavenly existence and identity by modeling its worship and liturgy on the angels’ and the heavenly church’s worship of the exalted lamb, as vividly portrayed in chapters 4–5.”[5] Earthly worship imitates heavenly worship.

So, you want to be close to God . . .

The first key principle I have drawn from this passage of Scripture is that those closest to God worship him with the greatest frequency and intensity. Of course, such worship need not always occur in a group setting or with song and liturgy.

The second key principle is that earthly worship imitates heavenly worship. This seems particularly true of corporate worship.

Jesus said, “A time is coming – and now is here – when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers” (John 4:23). Make every effort to be part of that worship!

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) 235.

[2] Osborne, Revelation, 237.

[3] Craig S. Keener, Revelation, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000) 181.

[4] Keener, Revelation, 179–180, quoting Gregory Stevenson.

[5] G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 323.