Friday, January 13, 2006

The Peace That Is Of God

Jesus knew, and warned us, that the burdens, troubles, problems and negative influences of this world would affect us. But, despite the evil and sin that permeates this fallen world, Jesus encourages us to have peace. A peace that only He can give.

John 16:33 - These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

One might ask, how can I have peace and be of good cheer with all the turmoil that is going on in the world? God's Word instructs us how:

Philippians 4:7 - And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

It is through Christ that we gain the peace of God. Jesus guards our hearts and minds in times of tribulation, for the peace that is of God surpasses all understanding.

Psalm 111:10 - The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do [his commandments]: his praise endureth for ever.

Fear of the LORD means "a reverence of and for God." The only people who need to fear Him in the negative sense are those who reject his provision of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. When we belong to Him, we desire to keep His commandments out of love for Him. Our praise for Him endures forever.

Proverbs 3:5 - Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

The Bible is a truthful and honest book. We know that faith is what pleases God. Even when we cannot understand everything that happens and/or why, we are still to trust Him. This verse informs us not to lean on our own understanding (as the world would have us do), but to have the confidence that God will do what he says he will do and trusting Him is the greatest strength we have on this earth.

Proverbs 4:7 - Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

When we do trust in Him, we gain wisdom. We gain more understanding. I have seen this in my own spiritual life. Have you? I will never have all the wisdom and knowledge of God (none of us do), but what He has shown me through Jesus Christ and His Word has given me enormous understanding that I wouldn't have had without the Holy Spirit's indwelling and guiding in my life. Scripture came alive for me when I was born again in Christ and it continues to instruct me. It will do so all the days of my life. That is my comfort and strength. It only resides through and in the Lord!

Mark 12:33 - And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love [his] neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

Some Bible translations say, "and with all the mind" rather than "with all the understanding." This is key. As far as our understanding goes, we are to love God. Think about that for a moment. Many people, unfortunately ignore God, reject God, think they can't know Him, or worse yet, think they are too smart to need God. They worship their own minds rather than the Creator of that mind they possess. I see this all the time when I get into discussions about macro-evolution vs. intelligent design or creation science. I once heard a joke that sums this up quite well.

The Scientist and God

The scientist approached God and said, "Listen, we've decided we no longer need you. Nowadays, we can clone people, transplant hearts and do all kinds of things that were once considered miraculous."

God patiently heard him out, and then said, "All right. To see whether or not you still need me, why don't we have a man-making contest?"

"Okay, great!" The scientist said.

"Now, we're going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam," God said.

"That's fine," replied the scientist, and bent to scoop up a handful of dirt.

"Whoa!" God said, shaking his head in disapproval. "Not so fast, pal. You get your own dirt."

You see, evolution borrows from Creation in order to promote it's theory! But let's not get too far off our topic.

The rest of the verse in Mark 12:33 instructs us to, " love our neighbor as ourselves." This is an act of obedience. We all have 'unlovable neighbors', amen? But notice the rest of the verse. These two things, loving God and our neighbors is more important than, "burnt offerings and sacrifices." What does this mean? It means that love and obedience to God is more important than any offering or sacrifice (e.g. works) that we may do. This is not to say that offerings (money) and sacrifices (works) are not important. It means that love and obedience is more important to God. It is because of our love and obedience to God that we want to give our offerings and sacrifices to Him.

"Loving our neighbor as ourselves" is often misinterpreted. Here is a good commentary by Jamison, Fausett & Brown:

"Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself--Now, as we are not to love ourselves supremely, this is virtually a command, in the first place, not to love our neighbor with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. And thus it is a condemnation of the idolatry of the creature. Our supreme and uttermost affection is to be reserved for God. But as sincerely as ourselves we are to love all mankind, and with the same readiness to do and suffer for them as we should reasonably desire them to show to us. The golden rule (Mat 7:12 ) is here our best interpreter of the nature and extent of these claims."

The next verse is speaking of Jesus.

Luke 2:47 - And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

Have you ever met someone who was so smart that it amazed you? Remember that guy on Jeopardy who kept winning , week after week, defeating one opponent after the other and people were in awe of his knowledge? Well. One day he lost and that was the end of his winning streak. He displayed amazing ability to answer many diverse questions. He had understanding of many topics. However, he wasn't perfect.

Now, Jesus astonished all of his hearers by his understanding of the Scriptures and his answers (knowledge and wisdom). Jesus also performed miracles right in front of their eyes. Even his opponents couldn't do anything except reject him and equate his works with Beelzebub. Of course Jesus flatly countered their foolish claim:

Matthew 12:26 - And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?

Mark 3:23 - And he called them [unto him], and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?

Luke 11:18 - And he called them [unto him], and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?

John reveals who Satan is and where he was cast out. Note how the whole world would be deceived by him. However, Jesus has overcome the world. He gets the last word on the matter, and gathers his saints for a 1,000 year "do over" on earth, too.

Revelation 12:9 - And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Revelation 20:1-15 (NLT)

The Thousand Years

Then I saw an angel come down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. 2 He seized the dragon-that old serpent, the Devil, Satan-and bound him in chains for a thousand years. 3 The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he would be released again for a little while.

4 Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus, for proclaiming the word of God. And I saw the souls of those who had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their forehead or their hands. They came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.) 6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years
The Defeat of Satan

7 When the thousand years end, Satan will be let out of his prison. 8 He will go out to deceive the nations from every corner of the earth, which are called Gog and Magog. He will gather them together for battle-a mighty host, as numberless as sand along the shore. 9 And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God's people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them.

10 Then the Devil, who betrayed them, was thrown into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

The Final Judgment

11 And I saw a great white throne, and I saw the one who was sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. 12 I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God's throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to the things written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 The sea gave up the dead in it, and death and the grave* gave up the dead in them. They were all judged according to their deeds. 14 And death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death-the lake of fire. 15 And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Greek and Hades; also in 20:14.

That previous chapter contains the bad news for nonbelievers. However, Revelation 21 tells us of the new heaven and new earth.

Revelation 21:1-27 (NLT)

The New Jerusalem

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband.

3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.* 4 He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever."

5 And the one sitting on the throne said, "Look, I am making all things new!" And then he said to me, "Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true." 6 And he also said, "It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega-the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give the springs of the water of life without charge! 7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. 8 But cowards who turn away from me, and unbelievers, and the corrupt, and murderers, and the immoral, and those who practice witchcraft, and idol worshipers, and all liars-their doom is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is the second death."

9 Then one of the seven angels who held the seven bowls containing the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come with me! I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."

10 So he took me in spirit* to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. 11 It was filled with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious gem, crystal clear like jasper. 12 Its walls were broad and high, with twelve gates guarded by twelve angels. And the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the gates. 13 There were three gates on each side-east, north, south, and west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 The angel who talked to me held in his hand a gold measuring stick to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 When he measured it, he found it was a square, as wide as it was long. In fact, it was in the form of a cube, for its length and width and height were each 1,400 miles.* 17 Then he measured the walls and found them to be 216 feet thick* (the angel used a standard human measure).

18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass. 19 The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve gems: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.

21 The twelve gates were made of pearls-each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.

22 No temple could be seen in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. 24 The nations of the earth will walk in its light, and the rulers of the world will come and bring their glory to it. 25 Its gates never close at the end of day because there is no night. 26 And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city. 27 Nothing evil will be allowed to enter-no one who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty-but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

Some manuscripts read God himself will be with them, their God.
Or in the Spirit.
Greek 12,000 stadia [2,220 kilometers].
Greek 144 cubits [65 meters].

There are weeks worth of study in these chapters. But suffice it to say that Chapter 21 reveals the hope that is in us. And, Revelation 22:12-17 still reaches out such hope for those who haven't yet, as the metaphor proclaims, "washed their robes."

Revelation 22:12-17 (NLT)

12 "See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to repay all according to their deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."
14 Blessed are those who wash their robes so they can enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. 15 Outside the city are the dogs-the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.
16 "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne.* I am the bright morning star."
17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." Let each one who hears them say, "Come." Let the thirsty ones come-anyone who wants to. Let them come and drink the water of life without charge.

Are you a thirsty one? God's Holy Spirit and the bride (meaning, all born-again believers) are calling out to you today!

Revelation 22:20-21 (NLT)

20 He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon!"
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all.

Becoming a Christian

1 comment:

Susan Smith said...

This is a good one, Christine.

What a pleasant post to read after a busy week at work. God's Word ministers mightily. Thanks for being a worthy conduit vessel.

I look forward to Stephen Bennett's teaching on Romans chapter 1 next week on Straight Talk Radio.

Shabbat Shalom, my friend. Love to the West Coast from East Talpiot in Jerusalem. (ss)