“Shock and Awe, simply Shock and Awe!” For most, this phrase entered our vernacular from CNN Reporter, Peter Arnett, describing the stunning exhibition of US airpower from his hotel in Baghdad on March 21, 2003. The second Gulf War had begun. Operation Iraqi Freedom was underway. But the coalition bombardment was nothing compared to the ‘Shock and Awe’ described in Revelation 19 as the world’s final battle that pictures the return of Christ in judgement.
Kings and captains, mighty men, men both free and slave, small and great gather for battle. Summoned by the King of Rebels, the ancient Dragon and his Beast and False Prophet, they have come to resist the will of their rightful King, the Lord Jesus Christ. They trust in everything false and swear allegiance to the King of Lies and Murder. They think this will be their moment – and indeed it is. Just not the moment they expected. ‘Shock and awe’ is coming. Join us as we examine Revelation 19:11-21 and the great promise and the great warning of Christ’s return.
With the Bible’s emphasis on hospitality as an indelible mark of Christian life, it is surprising that 2 John warns us to withhold it. As Solomon noted, “for everything, there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven… a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” Deceptive heresies were being brought into the church by guest preachers. While faithful pastors were being denied opportunities to preach. The very truth of God is at stake. This deception is no mere trifle. It is heresy of the most insidious kind, denying the deity of Christ and the necessity of the cross. It is the preaching of anti-Christ. John exhorts the churches to refuse hospitality to these peddlers of poison — to deny the enemies of Christ any “aid and comfort.”
How discerning are we? In our exercise of hospitality are we careful not to provide “aid and comfort” to the anti-Christ? Where do we draw the lines? Join us this week as we examine 2 John and wrestle with the question of when to withhold hospitality for the sake of the gospel?
Weddings should be joyful affairs. Celebrations of the first order. Whether lavish or simple, no expenditure of joy should be spared. It is a day to gather and celebrate what God said was “very good.” Jesus chose to begin his public ministry, celebrating a wedding at Cana. And at the end of all things, Jesus completes his redemptive work, celebrating the wedding supper of the Lamb.
Revelation 17-19 contrast the Harlot and the Bride. A contrast which emphasizes the distinction between the deadly deceptive charms of the world, pictured as a luxuriant but violent prostitute, and the enduring, life-giving beauty of Christ’s church, pictured as a radiant bride. In a world where Christ promises persecution while conformity to the world promises peace, it is easy to lose sight of this distinction between harlot and bride. But in Revelation 19 the Lord unveils for John, and for us, a picture of The Big Day – the promised wedding supper of the Lamb. Join us this week as we examine Revelation 19 and consider how we are to live expectantly, even in the midst of adversity.
Struggling to make a decision is not necessarily a lack of decisiveness, but more often a function of ‘decision fatigue.’ And for the Christian there is a decision fatigue much more persistent than our covid mitigation strategy. How are we to live in the world, but not be of the world? What is our relationship to culture?
Revelation is a book of unveilings. And in Revelation 18, the Lord unveils the destruction of Babylon, the Harlot, who pictures rebellious, worldly culture. The people of God are commanded to come out of her. And while her lovers mourn her downfall from a distance, those who belong to God give thanks for her destruction. At first glance this seems an ungracious, or even vindictive, portrait of the church. But a deeper examination reveals important insights into the responsibility and the relationship of the church to the world. This week we examine Revelation 18 and consider what this passage says about our calling to be ‘in the world,’ but not ‘of the world.’
The seductive appeal of worldliness to supply meaning, fulfillment and safety, is a deadly ruse. Revelation 17 begins a new division within John’s visions. A division which emphasizes the distinction between the deadly deceptive charms of the world, pictured as a luxuriant but violent prostitute, and the enduring, life-giving beauty of Christ’s church, pictured as a radiant bride.
In a world where Christ promises persecution while conformity to the world promises peace, it is easy to lose sight of this distinction between harlot and bride. But the Lord unveils for John, and for us, a clear revelation of the deadly beast that lies in wait beneath great worldly allure. Join us this week as we examine Revelation 17 and consider the seductive allure of seeking meaning, fulfillment, or safety from the things of this world.
Revelation 16 reminds men of the completeness, the inescapability, the eternality of God’s wrath against unatoned sin. Yet it reveals something even more dreadful. Those hardened against grace, are hardened even more in judgement. As bowls are emptied, men experiencing God’s righteous judgement express no sorrow, no remorse, no repentance. The penitent thief, standing under judgement declared, “do you not fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation, and we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward for our deeds.” But men experiencing the bowls of God’s wrath “cursed the name of God, did not repent and give him glory.” They were hardened. Hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hardened because they saw only a God of wrath and fury, not the God of grace and mercy.
What about you? Has disappointment with life, or perhaps with God himself, hardened you? Can you feel yourself growing more and more this way? Is hardening in your mind, attitude, and relationships metastasizing into your spiritual life as well? Is God only a God of wrath and fury to you, or do you know him as a God of grace and mercy? Join us this week as we examine Revelation 16 and consider its warning against “spiritual cirrhosis.”
Most Christians struggle with assurance. The Psalmist aptly noted, “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” Grace is hard to believe, especially when applied to our own lives. Assurance can be elusive. We look for it in mountain-top experiences or powerful feelings. But it is found in the common places of the Christian life; avoiding sin, pursuing righteousness, practicing fellowship and loving one another. All things that are the fruit of grace, not it’s root. Grace produces gratitude. Gratitude fuels sanctification. And sanctification brings conformity to the image of Christ. And this family resemblance forms the foundation of solid assurance.
Are you struggling with assurance? Where will you find it? John warns us against morbid introspection, encouraging us instead to look to the reality of Christ and the mundane realities of the Christian life – walking in fellowship, fleeing from sin, practicing righteousness, and loving one another. Join us we examine 1 John 2:28-3:10 and consider how a family resemblance to Jesus gives us much needed assurance of faith.
Sometimes it is better to miss something than make it. Robert Corrigan of Clam Point, Massachusetts discovered this when he overslept and missed his flight to LA. He arrived at the departure gate just as his plane was pushing back. An hour later, he was still at the airport, waiting for a standby flight, when he saw the news that his flight, United #175, had crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Missing that flight saved his life.
Revelation 15 unfolds the final chapter of the drama of redemption. The saved and sealed sing of the mercy and grace of God, even as a righteous and holy God sets the stage for His wrath to be poured out against a warned world. Scripture says that we are all, by nature, children of wrath. But only through faith in Christ, will we become children of the King and escape the wrath to come. What about you? Are you still a child of wrath? Are seven bowls in your future? Or will you miss out – miss out on unrepentance, on wrath, on judgement, and on eternal death. Some things are better to miss than to make. Join us as we examine Revelation 15:1-8 and consider the great joy of missing out on the righteous and holy judgement of God.
The ability of the salmon to find its way home is beyond belief, but it pales in comparison to the promise of Scripture that the Lord ‘knows his own’ and will not lose any that belong to him. Nothing can keep him from finding us. No one can snatch us from his hand. Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is ours in Christ Jesus. We know this intellectually, but it is easy to feel lost sometimes. Our sin and circumstance often seem to obscure his love, his promises, and his mercy. While scripture exhorts us to assurance, we all struggle to feel that our calling and election are sure.
And as Revelation 14 unfolds even further, the scene moves from the first-fruits, to the finished harvest. At the end of the age, the Lord returns in glory to collect all of his own and to carefully distinguish the wheat from the tares, the sons of light from the sons of darkness. None are confused. None are mixed. None end up in the wrong place. God loses none he purposed to save. None are lost who trusted in grace. Join us as we consider Revelation 14:14-20 and consider the assurance of God’s promise that he is coming again and when he does, he will take us – all of us that are his – to himself.
Tunnel vision can be dangerous, and even deadly, especially in our spiritual lives. The enemy of our soul, the ancient Serpent, Satan, wants to blind us to the truths of God’s power and promises. Satan is forever working to foster suspicion of God. And accusation against you. His relentless assaults on God’s promises wear us down, destroy hope, and fill us with despair. Satan wants to give us tunnel vision – seeing only insurmountable crisis and unsolvable brokenness.
Revelation 13 unfolds Satan’s fury against the church. Two beasts arise, making war against the saints, conquering them through crushing power and relentless propaganda. The picture seems hopeless. But that is not the end of the story. In Revelation 14 the true Lamb appears with those where were sealed by the living God with the Holy Spirit. Their number is not diminished. Every one sealed is saved. Not one is lost. The lies of the Dragon were just that. His boasts, his threats, his accusations, his propaganda have all come to nothing. God gives us this word of comfort to restore the peripheral vision of faith. Join us this Lord’s Day as we consider Revelation 14 and learn to avoid spiritual tunnel vision.