Posts Tagged ‘The Great Commission’

2 Samuel 4:1-12 (Part 2 of 2)
The Murder of Ishbosheth

A house divided upon itself will not stand. Jesus made this statement in Matthew 12:25 when the religious leaders claimed that he cast out demons because he was a minion of Satan. Jesus simply used logic on them. If Jesus was one of Satan’s guys why the heck would he cast out one of his co-workers in evil from doing his evil deeds. Even Satan needs unity among the demons to accomplish his tasks. Yet, so often we see that God’s houses around the world, the church, is divided. We divide ourselves by denomination. We divide ourselves by whether we are Protestant (any non-Catholic church) or Catholic. Even locally within our local churches, we divide ourselves more often that we multiply ourselves. We also would rather our local expression of God’s choice die than allow others to participate in the leadership of our local expression. We fuss among ourselves. We grow weaker each and every day with all the in-fighting. That’s how Satan will make the church ineffective in our world is by inward dissension within local churches and by creating philosophical and theological fractures between denominations and between Protestants and Catholics.

We have become so estranged from each other in the two plus millennia since the church began in Jerusalem after Jesus’ death and resurrection. In the South, where the Catholic Church is admittedly sparse and weak, there are many people who have been so educated by the Protestant churches they attend that the Catholic Church as we know it today is anti-Christian. They often do not grasp that it was the Catholic Church, that catholic means universal, is the church that was born at Pentecost. It was the church. The universal church. It was the church all the way up until the 1500’s when the Protestant revolution began. Many Southerners, as well as all American Christians in general, do not know their church history. We should not think of Catholics as if they have two heads and are believers in some non-Christian religion. They are our brothers and sisters. And their church is the mother of all protestant churches. And most assuredly for all the trappings that Catholic parishioners have to wade through on their way to the cross, there are many, many Catholics who love the Lord with the same all-out passion as any Protestant. Even with all the fractures of the church since Pentecost, the Catholic Church, the original church, it remains as the largest single branch of Christianity in the world.

Certainly, the Catholic Church has lost its way over the centuries with its layers of tradition taken with the same weight as the Bible and with its outright heresies at times and with its current bent toward leaving bedrock and universal truths of the Bible so as to fit in with the world and with its cover up of sins (caused by the nonbiblical requirement that its ministers be celebate and unable to marry). These things caused fractures over the centuries from which the universal church of all believers has not recovered. And we need the Catholic Church to return to admit its mistakes and return to its roots. Satan smiles at these long time fractures.

Denominational Protestant Christianity is no better. We have divided ourselves into in excess of 150 blocs or genres of denominational thought. Sure there are some truly major denominations out there such as the Southern Baptists, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church and so on (each of these majors are also fractured into many subdenominations). But we divide ourselves over what we think are hills to die on. We divide ourselves over theological derailments and we should because heresy is of Satan and misleads people. But most often, we divide ourselves over degrees of faith rather than faith itself. We divide ourselves on the theological tenet that we hold dear and fear that others do not hold it as dear as us. We divide ourselves by denominational lines because you and I do give certain beliefs pre-eminence over others. Satan smiles at the fractures within the Protestant band of Christianity.

Local Christianity as expressed in individual churches is also fracture-able. There are more church splits each year than there are church plants, according to the Barna Group, the Christian research institute. We divide over leadership struggles. We divide over some liking the pastor and others hating him. We divide over the color of the carpet. We divide over whether the fellowship hall was named after us. We divide over a room dedicated to our great grandparents 50 something years ago that has been converted to some other use 50 something years later. We divide over the kind and style of music that is played. We divide over every possible little thing. Satan smiles when each local church splits rather than when we send people out in love to plant a new church. Satan loves the split and hates the plant.

The fractured state of Christianity is what I thought of this morning as I read 2 Samuel 4:1-12 for the second and last time before I move on to the next passage. The reason that I thought of that is how the murder of Ishbosheth was like cutting off the nose to spite the face. It was just a vengeful thing and not a thing that was going to unite the kingdom. It was and could have been a permanently divisive thing had it not been for how David handled it. Let’s read the passage now and see how he does it:

Chapter 4
1 When Ishbosheth,[a] Saul’s son, heard about Abner’s death at Hebron, he lost all courage, and all Israel became paralyzed with fear. 2 Now there were two brothers, Baanah and Recab, who were captains of Ishbosheth’s raiding parties. They were sons of Rimmon, a member of the tribe of Benjamin who lived in Beeroth. The town of Beeroth is now part of Benjamin’s territory 3 because the original people of Beeroth fled to Gittaim, where they still live as foreigners.

4 (Saul’s son Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth,[b] who was crippled as a child. He was five years old when the report came from Jezreel that Saul and Jonathan had been killed in battle. When the child’s nurse heard the news, she picked him up and fled. But as she hurried away, she dropped him, and he became crippled.)

5 One day Recab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon from Beeroth, went to Ishbosheth’s house around noon as he was taking his midday rest. 6 The doorkeeper, who had been sifting wheat, became drowsy and fell asleep. So Recab and Baanah slipped past her.[c] 7 They went into the house and found Ishbosheth sleeping on his bed. They struck and killed him and cut off his head. Then, taking his head with them, they fled across the Jordan Valley[d] through the night. 8 When they arrived at Hebron, they presented Ishbosheth’s head to David. “Look!” they exclaimed to the king. “Here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of your enemy Saul who tried to kill you. Today the Lord has given my lord the king revenge on Saul and his entire family!”

9 But David said to Recab and Baanah, “The Lord, who saves me from all my enemies, is my witness. 10 Someone once told me, ‘Saul is dead,’ thinking he was bringing me good news. But I seized him and killed him at Ziklag. That’s the reward I gave him for his news! 11 How much more should I reward evil men who have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed? Shouldn’t I hold you responsible for his blood and rid the earth of you?”

12 So David ordered his young men to kill them, and they did. They cut off their hands and feet and hung their bodies beside the pool in Hebron. Then they took Ishbosheth’s head and buried it in Abner’s tomb in Hebron.

In this passage, we see that when David learned of Ishbosheth’s death, he was angry. He had never harmed Saul (even though he had several opportunities to do so). He also thought the assassin’s method was cowardly. David wanted to unite Israel not drive a permanent wedge between him and the house of Saul. To show that he had nothing to do with the extermination of Saul’s royal line, he ordered that the assassins be executed and gave Ishbosheth a proper burial. All the tribes of Israel, recognizing what David was doing showed strong leadership, pledged their loyalty to him.

David could have said “yeah, in yo face northern tribes! Take that!” but he knew that the unity of the entire Israelite nation was at stake. He knew that the long range goal was that the kingdom be united. That’s what God wanted. Yet, men were working against it. David knew that if he succumbed to selfishness, he would lose an opportunity to unite the nation as God desired.

In Christianity today, we should disagree and stand firm on issues of heresy where any branch of Christianity has gone off the rails from the theology of the Bible and begins to interpret it in ways that are simply pandering to the current culture. We should disagree and stand firm against any belief that is contrary to God’s Word. We should disagree and stand firm against accepting beliefs that have no basis in Scripture. However, we should always keep in mind that when we begin fighting among ourselves and have no eye toward reconciliation, Satan smiles. When we fight among ourselves globally, nationally, or locally within our own churches, we forget the mission that Jesus gave us – to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray that someday, we will quit fighting about carpet colors, room names, who is chairman, who is an elder, who is a deacon, and whether “those people” can come to our church, and whether we like the pastor or not, and remember why God gathered us together. May all the denominations learn to reconcile with one another and get rid of that which is not of God’s Word and focus on what is and get back to work together. May the Catholic Church return to its simplest roots that began in Jerusalem and spread throughout the Roman Empire within 100 years because the message was simple. May we all get out of the way of the message and all start focusing on seeking and saving the lost.

Let us quit arguing among ourselves and make Satan mad because we are working together to seek the lost and bring them to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and make new disciples of our Savior and Lord. Let us keep an eye on the ball. Let us know what is important. Let us die on the hills that we need to die on and let us work to reconcile on those hills that don’t really matter when it comes right down to it.

Amen and Amen.

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1 Samuel 8:1-9
Israel Requests a King

Last night I finished one of the books I have to read for my next semester (my third semester) in my doctoral program. I am not the fastest reader in the world so I began reading the first of 10 books I have to read before the end of the third week in February on Monday night. This first book was probably the shortest (and smallest) of the books I have to read. It was entitled Autopsy of a Deceased Church. In this short 100-page book, Thomas Rainer had done research on the deaths of 14 different churches and from that research developed the common themes of why churches decline and die. To add to what Rainer states in his book I found that in a recent sermon, Pastor James McDonald from Walking in the Word Ministries revealed these shocking numbers about Christianity in America:

• Of the 250,000 Protestant churches in America, 200,000 are either stagnant (with no growth) or declining. That is 80% of the churches in America and maybe the one you attend, if you attend at all.

• 4,000 churches close their doors every single year.

• There is less than half of the number of churches today than there were only 100 years ago.

• 3,500 people leave the church every single day.

• Since 1950, there are 1/3 fewer churches in the U.S.

Thomas Rainer bolsters the above statistics by saying that only 10% of churches in America are truly healthy, 40% of churches are showing signs of sickness, 40% of churches are sick and dying, and 10% of churches are about to die. The main troubles of sick and/or dying churches, according to Rainer? His research of these 14 churches, these “autopsies” of churches that died, revealed some interesting facts. They became increasingly inward focused over the years. They became resistant to change. Their budgets became less and less focused on outreach and more and more focused on programs to serve the needs of the people within the church. They became more like the old Janet Jackson song from 1986, “What Have You Done for ME Lately?” As funds dwindled due to the slow decline of membership, the first things that were cut was the very thing that they needed to be spending their money on – reaching out into their communities. They became fearful of the world around them and had defeatist attitudes about reaching their town with evangelistic efforts. And most of all, they quit praying fervently in a corporate fashion. Sure, they would pray before church meals and during services but there was no longer is passion corporately to pray for the lost and for ways to reach them. There was little if any discipleship. Church became about traditions and resistance to change. Church became a social club. Often these churches that died, clamored for more people and often switched pastors often when that did not happen. However, pastors who came in and wanted to make sweeping changes to “stop the bleeding” were often rebuffed because people did not ultimately want to give up leadership to new people, did not want to give up traditions. Did not want “that kind” of change. They wanted to continue doing what they were doing but get a different result.

They lost sight of what the church was for. The church is not for them. The church is there for the lost, to draw them unto Christ, and then to develop them into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. We must be obedient in this effort as a church or your church, my church, any church will die. What does this have to do with today’s passage where Israel is clamoring to have a king? Everything as we will see. Let us read the passage, 1 Samuel 8:1-9, once again together:

8 As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. 2 Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba. 3 But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice.

4 Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. 5 “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.”

6 Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. 7 “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for they are rejecting me, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. 8 Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. 9 Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.”

In this passage, we see that the people clamored for a king, thinking that a new system of government would bring about a change in the nation. However, their basic problem was disobedience to God. Their other problems would only continue under the new form of administration. What they needed was a unified faith in God not a unified form of governance. Had the Israelites submitted to God’s leadership, they would have thrived beyond their expectations (see Deuteronomy 28:1). Our obedience to God’s commands as his newest expression of “His people”, the church, is crucial to our ability to thrive as instruments of God.

Jesus commanded his church to go. Jesus commanded his church to make disciples of all peoples. Jesus commanded them to baptize people in the name of the three expressions of the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). Jesus commanded us to teach them everything that He taught us. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) is what we are here for – nothing else. We are not here to build buildings with our names on them. We are not here to use church to build a power base. We are not here for me to have a professional network so that I make all the right contacts “because we go to the same church”. We are not here to have a place to entertain our kids. We are not here to be babysitters for your kids. We are not here to have our names on pews, windows, or classrooms. We are not here to make ourselves feel good. Even in modern church, we are not here to have the cool church. We are not here to have field trips for our teenagers. We are not here to have the most expensive lighting and sound system in town. We are not here to have the loudest band and the band with the most albums out there on Christian radio. Sure, we can have those things but they cannot be the things that we are here. They must be byproducts of a church that is obedient to its calling from Jesus Christ.

We must go. We must focus our money and our people on sharing the gospel in their day to day lives. We must urge them to see the urgency of what is at stake – the eternal destination of our friends, neighbors, co-workers, extended families, all those in our individual spheres of influence. We must remind our people that their a members of a priestly order. They are ministers themselves. They can touch more people themselves than our pastors can ever dream of reaching by themselves. We are the church. Let us go. Let us get out there and share the gospel. Let us share the gospel not in just how we act and carry ourselves but actually sharing the gospel. Let us teach our people to think with a kingdom mindset – to think of every situation as an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ. We must “Go” if we are “to make disciples. We must go if we are to baptize. We must go if we are to teach. We cannot do any of the last three subcommands of the Great Commission if we are not obedient in the going.

When we quit going, we start dying. When we are disobedient in the going, we quit thriving and a church begins its slow death march to the closing of the doors of a church. Just as Israel clamored for a king, thinking a change would make them thrive again, we often clamor for change as our churches decline. However, just as Israel did not change its ways and continued in its disobedience to the Lord and it began its slow death march toward the end of what we knew as ancient Israel, we too as churches cannot expect renewal unless we are obedient to the commands of the Lord. We must change our ways or more churches will close. We must move away from church becoming self-serving. We must never forget the passion for the lost. We must not lose our love for the going. We must not lose our love for baptizing and teaching. We must not lose our love for making disciples.

The commands are simple. That is what we are here for. That is what we must be obedient toward. Nothing else. It’s all very simple. It is about going. It is about making disciples. It is about baptizing. It is about teaching. If your church or my church becomes about anything other than being obedient to this commands, then, we too like many other churches every year and like the nation of ancient Israel, we will die. God does not bless disobedience. He blesses obedience. Everything we do as a church must be measured by whether it represents:

1. Going
2. Baptizing
3. Teaching
4. Making Disciples

Everything. Everything must be measured by our obedience to these four simple commands. Anything else is not worthy of doing. Anything else is disobedience.

Amen and Amen.

Matthew 8:28-34
Jesus Restores Two Demon-Possessed Men

Details of the Christian faith. One of the things that I love about our faith is the fact that it is the only faith that couches itself in history. People in historical context. Events that can be compared to historical records outside of the Bible. Ours is a faith that can be tested against man’s reality. All other religions begin with fables or claims of historical fact that cannot be tested. Christianity begs you to do research. Those who understand our faith welcome your skepticism and call upon you to do the research. It is a reasonable faith. It is a real time faith that welcomes your questions. Why is that important? The fact that it is a faith that can be verified, and it is a faith that does not rely on the word of one main or some created legend, it is a faith that can be shared by reasonable men and a faith that can be shared by all. One of the historical facts that is in today’s passage, Matthew 8:28-34, is that there was actually a place called Gadara in the time of Jesus and its inhabitants were called the Gadarenes. Why is this important? Let us see. The passage begins with the statement that Jesus and the disciples arrived at the other side at the region of the Gadarenes. What does that mean? Why does Matthew mention the “region of the Gadarenes” and what purpose does that serve in what Matthew is trying to say here?

According to Wayne Blank in his devotional, “Gadarenes”, at http://www.keyway.ca/htm2003/20030210.htm, Mr. Blank says,
“Gadara was one of the Decapolis, or ‘Ten Cities,’ that were originally inhabited primarily by Greek people who settled in the region after the time of Alexander the Great’s conquest. After the Romans occupied the region from about 65 B.C., Gadara was made the capital of the Roman province of Peraea. Gadara was located east of the Jordan River on a mountain about 6 miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee. The people of Gadara were known as Gadarenes…” He continues, “They were still mostly Gentiles in the time of Christ, as indicated by their keeping of pigs…”

To me, the inclusion of this sentence in Matthew’s text is significant in several respects. First, it gives historical perspective to the story. Gadara being one of the ten cities of the Decapolis is something that can be verified via historical research into the Greek and Roman antiquity. Although the Bible does not need help, it certainly continues to prove the point of the historical veracity of the Bible and that the events of Jesus’ life did actually take place in places that you can go to and touch and feel. My wife and I have a friend from our life group that recently got to go Greece on a mission trip to serve missionaries who had come in from other countries for a conference. During the conference, as a nurse, she was a part of the team that checked on the health of the missionaries and their families. During her time there, she was able to do some sightseeing such as visiting the ruins of ancient cities mentioned in the New Testament such Philippi. The fact that she could stand where Paul, one of the great men of our faith, stood is not only awe-inspiring but it is also evidence of the historicity of our faith. The fact that this friend could visit the places where Paul preached and evangelized gives confidence to our faith. Though our faith does not depend on us visiting such places, for there are those who will never see the Holy Land or visit Philippi, it does give you confidence that our faith is one that can be verified. It occurred in the real time of human events. There are historical references outside the Bible that Jesus existed. There is ample evidence to support the reasonableness of our faith. All of that can get you 95% of the way to Jesus Christ, but faith must get you that last 5% of the way. Jesus was real. But the question you must come to answer is whether or not you believe that He is the Son of God and that He is the only way to the Father in heaven. That is the most important question that you will ever answer in your life. Your eternity hangs in the balance. However, our faith is one that welcomes your questions. It does not take blind faith in a fable as Hinduism and Buddhism do. It does not require that you accept blindly the vision revealed to only one man as so many other religions such as Islam do. To understand what Christ has done for us on the cross fully, the Christian faith almost begs you to investigate it. Blind faith based on feelings or coercion is not the way of the Christian faith. Our faith demands that you understand it, question it, and make up your mind.
Second, and as importantly, this passage is proof that Jesus took his ministry outside the traditional Jewish boundaries. The implication here is that the Good News of Jesus’ ministry was for everyone, the whole world, and not just his native Jewish nation. This is not to knock the Jewish nation in anyway because Jesus was a Jew. He was saddened by their unwillingness to be the light of the world as God’s chosen people. Thus, Jesus carrying the message to regions of Palestine that were not Jewish is significant. He was taking up the mantle of being the light of the world. A mantle that Christ’s church took seriously after his death and resurrection such that the example of his life and his teachings spread like wildfire throughout the Roman Empire. Jesus was spreading the good news of the kingdom to all who would hear it. If it were not for those who desired all to share in the kingdom of God, Christianity would be a small little sect of Judaism located in Palestine right now to this day. Jesus sets the example here that would be followed by his disciples. His command to go and make disciples at the end of this gospel was not without precedent. We see him on numerous occasions through this and the other gospels sharing the gospel outside the boundaries of Jewish society. Jesus, the Great Commission, was not asking his disciples to do anything that He had not already demonstrated to them. Jesus commands to do the same. Here, we see Him doing it. Later, we see his disciples doing it. Now, it is our turn. We have been shown by our Teacher.
The implication for you and me is that we have an example right here of how Jesus willingly took the news of God’s love to everyone even in regions where they worshiped other gods. We are, thus, called to share the Gospel anywhere, anytime, anyplace. We must share the gospel. It is not an option. It is a command. We have our example from Jesus himself. If we do not share the gospel, people cannot have the experience of asking questions about the faith. They cannot come to understand it. They cannot come to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ. They cannot come to love the fact that our faith is one that can be verified. They cannot know that our faith is one that welcomes your questions and your doubts. They cannot know the amazing changes that can be brought about through the Holy Spirit that give us hope and peace in knowing that we have been saved from the precipice of hell by the loving act of Jesus Christ on the cross. Let us be unashamed. Let us be bold. Let us share the gospel. It only makes sense that all should have the opportunity to know Jesus Christ.

Luke 12:35-48 — Remember when you were a teenager and your parents were leaving town for the weekend and were going to let you stay home by yourself. You played nice til you knew they were clearly out of the area and then….PARTY TIME! You lived like a slob. You walked around the house with the music blaring, pizza crusts left where you finished the pizza. The chores they left you oh those can wait. You call all your friends for the biggest party ever. After the wild party, and your parents are on the way home. Only then do you begin to get the house cleaned up and get the chores done. This concept made Tom Cruise a star in the movie, Risky Business. We all remember those days. It is, in fact, a great illustration for today’s passage.

When will Christ return in all His glory? We, as Christians, often wonder when this will be? Even those that fancy themselves as high and mighty religious leaders have even boldly predicted when Christ will return.

First, there were those during the time of Paul’s ministry, not long after the life of Jesus, who had become Christ followers who thought the end was near and quit living their lives which prompted, in part, Paul to write the letter that now is known as the book of the New Testament known as Thessalonians. In about 90 AD, St. Clements predicted the imminent end of the world. In 365 AD, Hilary of Poitiers predicted the end of the world would happen that year. In 500 AD, many Christians believed that was the year the earth would end. In 968 AD, a total eclipse of the sun left people believing that the world would end that year. January 1, 1000 was another year in which many believed the world would end. In the 1033, many thought because it was the 1000th anniversary of Christ’s crucifixion that the world would end. In 1284, Pope Innocent III predicted the end of the world would happen that year because it was 666 (the mark the beast) years after the founding of Islam. In 1346 and the years following it, because of the spread of the Black Plague across Europe, many thought the end of the world was imminent. 1832, Joseph Smith founder of the church that would morph into what is now known as the Mormons predicted the end would that year and when that missed, he said it would end in 1891. In 1914, when “the war to end all wars” (World War I) began, many believed it was the final battle of Armageddon and that the end was near (of course that world war was finally given a number because it was not the end of the world and was not the war to end all wars). The WatchTower Society has predicted the earth would end in eight different predictions over the last 100 years. They gave up on predicting the end it seems in 1994. The turn of the millenium on January 1, 2000 many thought was it too. Harold Camping, the Christian broadcaster made 3 different predictions in 2011 and 2012. All came and went. So, this predicting business of the end of the world has pretty much lost all credibility. It has become the “boy who cried wolf” fable of the ages.

But Christ did say that He would return. In this passage and others, Jesus Himself predicts that He will return one day to end it all. He has revealed this to John in vision that caused him to write Revelation. So why doesn’t He come? In Matthew 24:36, Jesus tells us though that only the Father knows the day and the hour of His return. We will not be able to predict when. Why is that so many people spend so much time in trying to find clues in Revelation and each is misinterpreted. We want there to be some connection to the events during our own lives on earth. That way we can know when the end is coming. Why do you think that is? I think it is because many of us don’t want to get serious about Jesus until we know His return is just around the corner. Many so called Christians, who are not really, use Revelation symbolism to scare people to church which is not exactly how Jesus envisioned people coming to Him. Ultimately, a Christ follower should not be scared of the return of Christ.

Christ’s unexpected return is not to catch us in a trap. In fact, I would venture to say that God is delaying the end of time to give all non-believers every opportunity to come unto Him through Jesus Christ. In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter says, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” Jesus’ warning here is that we should not be looking for signs or indicators for His return and just then begin to clean up the house like the teenager who throw the big party while his parents are away.

Jesus tells us that we should live our lives as if He is coming back at any time not just get our spiritual house in order because we see signs of Jesus returning. We should live our lives like He is coming back tomorrow. So, what if He does not come tomorrow. We will live that day too is if He is coming the next day. We must watch for Him but continue to live as He commanded. We know from 2 Peter 3:9 that God wants to give us every opportunity to turn from our prideful ways and submit our hearts to Him through Jesus. We know from Luke 12:1-12 that those who deny Jesus will be rejected if they go to their grave denying Him. With our belief in Christ as our Savior comes the responsibility to spread the gospel, to witness to others and lead them to Christ. In Matthew 28:19, he says go and make disciples. It is an imperative command. He did not say just when you want to or when you have time or whenever its convenient. He says go. He says make disciples. Let us not worry about our place or what will happen at the end of time. I don’t care when the end of time comes. I really don’t. I know that my place is secure in God’s hand. Revelation is scary for the non-believer but for the believer we can look forward to Revelation 21-22. There is no more beautiful thing that description of the end time for the believer. We don’t have to worry about all the ugly stuff of Revelation 4-20, our place is secure. Our urgency should be to share the gospel with others so that they too can enjoy the establishment of the new Jerusalem at the end of time as we know it. We should have urgency about that not about trying to read tea leaves as to what figure in Revelation represents what figure in our day and time.

At the end of Revelation, John says in 22:20, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” That is our wish too my friends, but we have Matthew 28:19 work to do because God is all 2 Peter 3:9 on the world and desperately desires nonbelievers as many as possible to come to Him before He releases Revelation 4-20. Live like He is coming tomorrow. Work with urgency to witness to others about Jesus as if He is. As we football players say at the end of the huddle to call the next play, “Ready. Break!” Let us get to work.