Books: Worm by Mark Bowden

No, this is not a book about Christian theology or the Bible. The subtitle of the book Worm by Mark Bowden is “The first digital world war.” To read and hear a fascinating interview with the author, use this link.

Bowden explains the emergence of the Internet worm known as Conficker, discovered at Stanford University in 2008. An estimated twelve million computers around the world are thought to be infected by Conficker, insidious software that takes control of the computer whenever the hacker wants. To determine whether your computer has been infected, you may go to this Web page created by the Conficker Working Group to combat the problem. Just by looking at that page in your browser and reading the description there, you will know whether you have a problem or not. Sounds too easy, but it is clever work!

Not only is Bowden’s tale fascinating and scary, but it has some relevance to our daily lives and the earth’s future. Think for a moment how dependent you are on the Internet and how dependent the world economy is on both the Internet and computer networks. How would your life change if the Internet became unusable? What if the good guys were unable to get the Internet working again in any reasonable period of time?

Chapter 18 of the Book of Revelation tells about the sudden collapse of the world system called “Babylon the great” (Rev. 18:4-19). The description reveals a world-spanning economic arrangement that falls in a single hour never to rise again. How is that possible? God has any number of ways to do it, but now there are ways that evil people can threaten world stability. In the currently weak state of the world economy, dangers of all kinds become greater.

How should a Christian respond to all this? Stay close to Christ and be watchful for his return as you live your life and serve his kingdom. Technology will not and cannot save you. But Jesus can and will!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 22:18–21

Revelation 22:18–21
I testify to the one who hears the words of the prophecy contained in this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes away from the words of this book of prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book. 20 The one who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.
(NET Bible)

The message must stand!

My grandmother and my mother’s siblings treated me like royalty! (Hey, the first child/grandchild/nephew gets the best of everything!) When we rode in the car — a stick-shift for those who recognize the term — I could sit anywhere except the driver’s seat.

Then one afternoon I decided to see what would happen if I reached across the front floor with my foot and stepped on the gas while we were moving down the street. For a while after that a cloud hid the sunshine in my young life. Some things you cannot do!

Since Jesus was the speaker in 22:16 and also in 22:20, he is the probable speaker in verses 22:18–19. In addressing the one who hears (22:18), he speaks to a large audience that should include us.

The warnings from Jesus to anyone who would dare to add to or subtract from the words of the Apocalypse amount to punishment in the lake of fire (22:18–19). As suggested in the questions above, this punishment is similar to warnings in the covenants God had with Israel (Deut. 4:2); the integrity of the words was crucial so that any person would know exactly how to keep the covenant. I keep italicizing words to point out that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit right down to the very words chosen by God to express his revelation (2 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 4:12; 2 Pet. 1:21). It is no accident that the devil added and subtracted words when discussing God’s command with Eve (Gen. 3).

But who would add to or subtract from the words? While no explicit answer is given to that question, we do know that they will not be living in the New Jerusalem or eating from the tree of life. Whatever they may have claimed about themselves, their decisions receive the lake of fire.

In 22:20a, Jesus affirms for the final time that he is indeed coming soon. John joyfully responds in 22:20b, and the grammatical form implies the obvious — there is advantage to John (and us) for Jesus to come soon. But if the coming of Jesus is good for the church, it also closes the opportunity for unbelievers to bring their thirst to the one with living water. As Grant Osborne points out, “The coming of Christ is both a promise and a warning, and it provides a fitting conclusion to John’s book.”[1]

Grace in the promise and the warning

When the wicked fall into the lake of fire, it will happen in spite of God’s gracious warnings. God even sent his Son to die for the sins of the world in demonstration of his love for the lost (John 3:16). But certain people would have none of it, preferring the immediate rewards of the world.

When the righteous enter the splendor of Eden, it will happen because of the grace and truth embodied in Jesus Christ. He did everything to make it possible. All we had to do was accept his merciful gift and wait for the time when God will reveal the wonders he has prepared for us.

The grace of God in Jesus Christ is one thing we cannot live without! “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.” (Rev. 22:21). Amen!

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) 798.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 22:14-17

Revelation 22:14-17

Blessed are those who wash their robes so they can have access to the tree of life and can enter into the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the sexually immoral, and the murderers, and the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood!
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star! 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come! And let the one who hears say: Come! And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wants it take the water of life free of charge.
(NET Bible)

Washing your robe

We rose after a night of much-needed rest at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. The famous rock spires called hoodoos made the view from the rim one like a forest of stone towers and spears. We learned that you could hike down there, but it was dangerous and hot — a stone maze.

That afternoon, when we discovered the man and his wife lying in the highway, it was a shock. They had wandered for hours among the hoodoos without water, and their heat exhaustion was plain. Cold water and a fast trip to the ranger station set these German tourists right, but what if relief had not come?

As we enter this section, we do well to hear Grant Osbornes words: We are saved by grace and judged by works. The teaching here deals not with salvation by works (though it does deal with salvation in the broad sense) but with our eternal reward.[1] With that caveat, we will press on.

In 22:14 we find that washing your robe is vital to having access to the tree of life by entering the city gates. The key to such washing, which grammar suggests has an ongoing quality, is the washing based on Christs redemptive death: They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb! (Rev. 7:14). That is the basis for all Christian living.

Those with authority to enter the city and eat of the tree (22:14) are contrasted with those outside (22:15) — a word which, unusually, stands first in word order — people who are unfit for Gods presence or blessings. Indeed, the word translated outside is quite ominous when used in this way; see Luke 13:22-28, where Jesus warns those rejecting his message that they will end outside where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Luke 13:28). See also 3:12 where the overcomers are told, All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it [literally: go away outside] (Rev. 3:12, NLT).

Without apology to our family dogs, the Bible uses the term dog (22:15) in a negative sense that was common in the ancient world. Greg Beale[2] says that the reprobates listed in 21:15 have no place in the new creation; further, he says that outside means the lake of fire and that city is another word for the new creation. Those conclusions are likely to be correct.

When 22:16 says testify to you, the personal pronoun in italics is plural in the original language. This is probably a reference to the members of the seven churches and to all who have an ear to hear what Jesus reveals through John.[3] Jesus reiterates his role as the Davidic Messiah and perhaps as the savior of the gentiles as well; the bright morning star uses a title applied to the Roman Emperor.[4]

Verse 22:17 presents a puzzle as to who is invited to come. Some say Jesus, but Beale[5] correctly notes that the threefold come of 22:17 mimics the same phenomenon in Isa. 55:1. The appeal is to people who need to come to Jesus for the water of life and the food that heals forever.

Only the thirsty will come

Many of us had to memorize this stanza from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, whose sailing ship was becalmed and without fresh water: Water, water, everywhere/ And all the boards did shrink/ Water, water, everywhere/ Nor any drop to drink.

This is the desperate plight of people in our time who are surrounded by many candidates for god, including the currently fashionable atheism. Just as sea water will kill rather than nurture the thirsty sailor, these false gods cannot touch the spiritual thirst of our time. Only Jesus can truly offer the water of life.

In offering the water of life, Jesus says, Whoever drinks some of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life (John 4:14). Come, and drink freely!

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) 788.

[2] G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 1142.

[3] Beale, Revelation, 1143, citing Beasley-Murray.

[4] Witherington, Revelation, 282, citing the Roman poet Martials appeal for Caesar to soon appear.

[5] Beale,, Revelation, 1144.