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Friday: Further Thought – Worthy is the Lamb — 28 Comments

  1. Reality Check

    I think some of us come to the study or Revelation with the idea that if we can understand all the symbolism and find all the hidden meanings we will have arrived. I have been the recipient over the years of various interpretations in the form of charts, diagrams and long emails filled with quotes and emphasis, that endeavor to explain the symbols and interconnections in Revelation. Some of them made some sense but others were what I call spiritual gibberish.

    At the end of the study of Rev 4 and 5, do we understand everything we have read? Are we frustrated that the identity of the 24 elders is not crystal clear? There is a message in these two chapters that has the clarity of a trumpet call; clear, unequivocal, and challenging.

    Jesus is on the throne and has the power to explain the good/evil conflict that we are part of. Not only can he explain it, but he is the solution.

    There is a danger that knowledge becomes an end in itself. We pursue an understanding of Revelation because we think that if we master it, we gain salvation. Such a course can be perversely, just another version of salvation by works.

    So, I think it is time for a reality check:

    And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 1 Cor 13:2

    Have we learned to love more as a result of this study?

    Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 1 Cor 13:8-10

    Are we prepared for our interpretation of prophecy to fail, simply because we only know in part? Do we share the love of Jesus more fully as a result of this study?

    • Just wanted to express appreciation for the way you consistently nudge towards focusing, and refocusing, on the central theme of scripture: our experienced love of and for God and our expressed love of and for others.

      As Jesus noted, all the Law and the Prophets (and by extension prophecies), hang/depend upon these 2 foundational principles.

    • Amen! I always look forward to your comments, Maurice, but I think this is the profound one I have seen. I believe this is true of every book in the Bible...whatever else it is about, it is always primarily about the character of God and His love for us. I copied this and texted it to all of my children. May I share it on Facebook?

  2. Rev 4 and 5 are all about worshiping God and Jesus and revealing their true character because that is the real Cosmic Conflict. Satan was a covering Cherub Eze 28:16 who accuses God's people before Him day and night Rev 12:10, in response we have seraphim around God's throne saying - day and night - Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty because that is the only answer necessary to Satan's accusations.

  3. God gave us His Son to pay the price that we were supposed to pay. Jesus gave Himself and died for us.
    The Sabbath represents a sign of God's creation and its keeping a recognition of His power to do so. We all are creatures that need to thank God for life itself, for His care and provision to escape eternal death.
    Learning about the need of those ahead/around of us and developing stategies to give back all the love we ourselves have received from Heaven might be a way to keep God's Spirit in the heart.

  4. “We must never forget that it is only the good news of salvation in Christ that can reach and transform human hearts…” {Friday, Q1 L4, 2019}. The essential element in the good news of salvation in Christ is to be renewed in heart to love like God loves and to live in harmony with how our Creator God has built His universe to operate. All of this is made possible only through our Savior Jesus Christ, who took our terminal condition upon Himself in order to overcome it, to eradicate it, and to restore the species human back to God’s ideal.

    We must reject the tendency to accept the lie that has infected Christianity and made it appear that we are in legal trouble with God and that God is a cruel dictator who is required to punish rule-breaking. Instead, worship our Creator God, who built His universe to operate on love and who understands that we are all struggling with a condition of heart and mind with which we were born, a condition that needs healing, not punishing, and who sent His Son to procure the remedy that will heal and restore all who trust Him.

    • James, who is saying God is a cruel dictator? As for being "required to punish", what do you mean? The bible states clearly that "the soul that sins will die". Yet, it is GOD who "so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" as the propitiation for sinners. This propitiation only works for those who show faith in this sacrifice by repentance.

      God has promised that sin will never afflict again, so this tells us sin(and all who practice it) will be removed forever. Some call this punish, some call it self-destruction, but the Bible clearly shows that it is God who removes sin. Do we expect that Satan will just dig his own grave and jump in it? Will the proud and defiant of the earth just leave and go....where? In fact, the Bible clearly reveals that God will resurrect the wicked who have died in order to execute justice/judgment upon them in the view of the unfallen and the redeemed. Why? Well, let me ask this: has God ever done anything that was not for the good of all His creatures? So in His execution of justice, there must be a very good reason. Remember, God is working in a way that will bar sin from His creation forever. He knows what is needed for this to take place. Do we trust Him fully?

      I imagine that this process of judging the "dead" is so that they can reveal to all that it was their choice to reject salvation, and that they are still defiant and unfit to live in a perfect environment with all those who love peace. Only their acknowledgement will remove any doubt and prove God Just.

      We must also remember that Jesus died to save those also who will be lost forever. His love and forgiveness was willing, but the choice was their's to make. Suddenly, making a choice today seems very important, doesn't it?

      • Robert

        The majority of Christianity believes and promotes that Jesus propitiation was the absorbing of God's need to punish sinners.

        I don't want to assume your position, so if I may ask you what you mean by propitiation when you state "it is GOD who "so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" as the propitiation for sinners."


        • Well then, the majority of christianity is wrong, isn't it?

          Define "propitiation" and then look up passages such as Lev 16, Rom 3:24-26, etc. What do you find from this? What you cannot forget is the union of the trinity, how close and complete it is. Otherwise you will not see the significance of this propitiation "set forth" for us. (I hope you are not overly influenced by a popular speaker/author who disliked this word for incorrect reasons.)

          Also, look up the original word for "mercy seat" in Lev 16. What does this mean to you? (mercy seat was not used until the 16th century AD, though it is adequate enough, and should help one understand better the meaning of "propitiate")

          • Robert, I am unfortunately no closer to understanding what you mean by propitiation. Could you please elaborate how you understand that concept.

          • Phil, what I mean by propitiate is exactly how the word is defined. Propitiate: appease, peacemaking, satisfy,

            What we need to see is WHO has offered propitation, and, WHAT is being propitated. Sin violates/transgresses the law, so the law's demands must be “propitiated”. What is the requirement(demand) of a violated law? “The soul that sins will die”. “The wages of sin is death”. So it must be understood that sin offends God in ways sinners are unable(Rom 8:7) to fully comprehend, but the sentence upon sinners should give us an adequate understanding for repentance on our part, if we wish to please/love God, who has first "so loved" us. The Law is the Divinely appointed means(Prov 2:1-5) to teach us the sinful nature of sin, as well as understanding the fear of the Lord, and finding a knowledge of God, by leading us to Christ(Gal 3:24) and a more perfect knowledge.

            So the only means of propitiating the “perfect” Law(and it's Author) is death. (contrary to the belief of some, God is NOT angry, but His pure and holy nature is offended by sin, and sin cannot dwell in His presence, which is everywhere[Ps 139]. IF He was angry, would He have "set forth" Jesus as our propitiation?!)

            This means we either propitiate the law by our death, OR, we accept the propitiation offered us by God in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world through His propitiating sacrifice which "satisfies" the demands of the Just Law in place of the sinner's death, allowing the repentant sinner to be justified and sanctified, and needing no more sacrifice for sin as temptation and sin are overcome and the former sinner transformed into the likeness of Christ, who never sinned. (if we don't believe this as possible through faith in the “exceeding great and precious promises of God”, we can never be saved)

            Chist's sacrifice for us is good news for every sinner! God's law demanded the death of Issac, yet He provided a ram to take Isaac's place on the altar. In this Abraham saw the promised Redeemer of Adam's race in Christ, and rejoiced(John 8:56).

            God is the one who set Jesus forth as our propitiation(Rom 3:24-26), in whom God offers reconciliation for the world unto Himself.

            The word in Lev 16 for mercy seat is kapporeth: “propitiatory”. Notice that this cover over the ark is pure gold, and that no wood is used in it's construction as in the ark itself, or as in the altar of incense or the table for the bread. This signifies divine mercy and origin, and not one fiber of human devising. God alone offers this propitiation, because He “so loved the world”, and nothing on man's part could provide such propitiation which would allow the repentant sinner to live. If rejecting the Divine solution, the sinner must die, since the Sovereign has promised to rid His creation of all sin in order to restore the dominion to it's sinless, peaceful state. So faith is the vital and only response from sinners, or salvation is out of reach. Jesus will be looking for faith when He comes(Luke 18:8), for “without faith, it is impossible to please Him”.

            Does this help at all Phil?

          • Thanks Robert.

            Yes that helps a lot. I have a much better understanding of where you are coming from. I will get around to comparing and contrasting where I come from...

          • Phil, what I didn't include concerning the "kapporeth"(mercy seat) is that this is where the propitiating blood of the Lord's goat on the day of atonement was sprinkled, directly over the violated law, which in it's pureness(no sin confessed over this offering) propitiates the law and allows the repentant to be forgiven, since the death their sin requires is paid in full by Christ.

            I don't understand how/why this legally works, but I do know God accepts Jesus' blood in my place, and Satan has not protested this arrangement, though he works overtime to keep sinners from learning about it and accepting it(why else would he create the abomination of desolation through the papal church?).

            Truly, the LORD God is "merciful, gracious, longsuffering...forgiving..."!

          • Robert.

            I am aware that the typical definition for propitiation is to appease and satisfy - which frequently then proceeds to give an explanation of the need to appease an offended God who must punish sin because that is what a ‘Holy’ and ‘Just’ God must do.

            Now I note that you differ in that you see that it is the law rather than God that must be propitiated.

            From what I have studied, I have found that Hilasterion (translated propitiation) is the noun form derived from hilaskomai the verb. So Christ became our hilasterion (noun) as a consequence of his activity of hilaskomai (verb). According to Strong’s, the activity of hilakomai refers to “being merciful” and “making reconciliation for”. To “make reconciliation for” means to do something that brings about an outcome of reconciliation - or to bring to atonement.

            Now peacemaking/reconciliation/atonement can be brought about by one of two conceptually distinct ways. On the one hand it can be brought about via appeasement of the offended entity such that they settle down and are no longer ‘wrathful’, or that some sort of compensatory debt has been paid. But this does not actually repair that which got broken in the first place. It only calms things down.

            On the other hand, peacemaking/reconciliation/atonement can be the natural outcome arising from having actually repaired that which got broken so that it is no longer broken and therefore no longer producing the breach in the relationship. It is interesting that this is essentially the concept of remission whereby cancer cells are returned to normal, non-cancerous state - which is what I believe Heb 9:22 (KJV) is referring to as a description of Atonement/Redemption. Rather than providing some compensatory penalty, this phenomena is the actual healing and repair back to the state that should have been all along. I believe this is the propitiation that Jesus was. This marries perfectly with the concept of Jesus as the second Adam that Paul unpacks in Romans 5.

            The short version of the second Adam is that prior to Genesis 3, Adam and Eve's heart was in God's image - ie, based upon the same foundational principle of self-renouncing love which (alone) is the law of life. Interestingly this also ties in perfectly with Lev 17:11 which I believe is typifying what I unpack a bit further in the following.

            In Genesis 3, the first Adam was seduced by Satan into exchanging self-renouncing love for self-exaltation (as Lucifer had done in heaven) and, in doing so, plunging humanity into a trajectory of perishing/death (Rom 5:14). Jesus, as the second Adam, entered humanity and re-traced the path of the first Adam except that he steadfastly resisted being seduced by Satan to relinquish self-renouncing love - even if it cost Him his life (which it did: Jn 15:13; Isa 53:12; Phil 2:8). Thus Jesus, as the second Adam - The Son of Man - restored self-renouncing love back within the human race (Rom 5:19) and made available this inheritance (via adoption) to all who would take up the offer (via rebirth; Jn 3:3-6).

            It is interesting that an exploration of Lev 16 kapporeth reveals that it is one of several allied words derived from the root word kaphar. Kaphar can have 2 meanings: the figurative meaning being to bribe or pay a ransom (price) and the literal meaning being to cover (ie pitch) with pitch (as per Gen 6:14).

            The meaning of 'to bribe' coincides with the typical appeasement meaning of propitiation, while ransom can go either way. Ransom can mean to pay a price literally, or it can mean to do so figuratively in terms of what the personal 'cost' endured by a liberator as a direct consequence of undertaking the activities necessary for fixing what is needed to enable liberation. Jesus paid the price for being our Redeemer in terms of stepping down from Creator into creation and enduring the worst treatment that fallen humanity and Satan could assail Him with (including death on a cross).

            The concept of covering with pitch does not make sense to merely cover over to hide a defect - but rather to augment in order to actually remedy a defect. Thus, the gopher wood timber of the ark was augmented with pitch in order to actually make it waterproof by closing the gaps between the timbers (reconciling the gaps) and making one contiguous hull (ie atonement).

            This is what I have come to understand as the biblically-based concept of propitiation across the New and Old Testaments.

        • Phil, Satan has no problem with sin/evil. God, as creator, alone determines good and evil. Satan, with Adam, contrary to God, determined that evil was good, and that good was evil. It was God who sentenced death against sin. Neither Satan (nor sin) would condemn sin/evil to death. It is God alone who has wrath against sin. We humans love sin. All, including Satan, are condemned to death. Can the sinner atone for his/her sin and “survive”? Both “soul and body” are consumed in this death. God alone qualifies to atone or propitiate for Adam’s sin,our sin (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:22). God, in Christ, did atone and survive, and therefor absolutely justified every sinner who was “in Christ”. Christ, who is God, satisfied His own judgment/justice against sin on behalf of His people.
          With what God has done can anyone discover in God “a need to punish sinners”?
          God is not a destroyer, but if He can create he should be able to destroy, whenever He wills being Just (Gen 6:13,17; 7:4; 13:10; 19:13; Mat 10:28). When the Midianites “destroyed” themselves it was what God did that precipitated their destruction. There is no credit to them.

          • Hi Kenny

            Are you suggesting that evil is only evil because God determines it is evil - not because it is in fact inherently and objectively evil in and of itself?

            Are you suggesting that sin and evil have no direct and intrinsic link to death - that they only result in death because God has applied a death sentence?

            The reason I ask this is because one of Satan's core insinuations against God was that God was in fact being arbitrary in preventing Adam and Eve from reaching a higher state of being if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 3:5). If evil is only evil when God determines it to be evil, then Satan's accusation of arbitrary is valid.

            How is God not a destroyer if He "should be able to destroy, whenever He wills being Just"? Could you explain this a bit further.

            Thanks Kenny

          • Phil, on the point of sin automatically leading to death, have you considered Gen 3:22-24, and what it means? Why Rev 20:9,10 if sinners will self-destruct?

            Yes, sin leads to death, but mostly the death of innocent victims of sinners. If someone decides to go to a school to shoot as many victims as possible, will he die after his first kill, being then guilty of sin, or is there usually some intervention required to stop the number of victims from escalating?

            Would you call your doctor a "destroyer" if he removes a cancerous growth from within your body, which would otherwise kill you if left unchecked? We burn trash here because it doesn't just disappear on it's own without taking a great deal of time. The Bible tells us that God will purify the earth by fire. What do you call this action by God? How long would it take the refuse of this world to disappear? What do men do with derelict buildings in order to make the area safe again? Are they unjust in doing so, or do they provide a needed and beneficial service for all concerned?

            Concerning what is evil, God has defined evil because sinners are too often not capable of realizing what is evil themselves. Yes, evil defines itself otherwise.

          • Thanks Robert.

            Actually, I have been digging into the very Genesis 3 passage you mentioned these past couple of weeks. I am still in the process of exploring the overall topic of destruction and will have more to say about it when we get to Rev 7.

      • In answer to your question “who is saying that God is a cruel dictator?”--

        “From the beginning it has been Satan's studied plan to cause men to forget God, that he might secure them to himself. Hence he has sought to misrepresent the character of God, to lead men to cherish a false conception of Him. The Creator has been presented to their minds as clothed with the attributes of the prince of evil himself,--as arbitrary, severe, and unforgiving,--that He might be feared, shunned, and even hated by men. Satan hoped to so confuse the minds of those whom he had deceived that they would put God out of their knowledge. Then he would obliterate the divine image in man and impress his own likeness upon the soul; he would imbue men with his own spirit and make them captives according to his will.” {5T 738.1}

        • This quote is so very true James. I would add destroyer to the list of attributes that the prince of evil has projected from himself to God.

          In Jn 10:10 Jesus outlined what God is exclusively about and what Satan (ie the thief) is exclusively about. Satan has then taken his attribute as destroyer (source of destruction) and projected it upon God. And it has become centrally embedded within Christianity to the extent that it is "cherished" without people even realising what is going on (but that is the nature of deception).

  5. "Instead, worship our Creator God, who built His universe to operate on love and who understands that we are all struggling with a condition of heart and mind with which we were born, a condition that needs healing, not punishing, and who sent His Son to procure the remedy that will heal and restore all who trust Him."

    Thank you for that James. It's true and amazingly wonderful news.

  6. So exactly HOW does “the good news of salvation in Christ” transform sinners? Many, claiming to be Christ's followers will be found wanting when He separates the sheep from the goats. What went wrong for the goats?

    1. The Psalmist tells us simply; “I will praise thee with uprightness of heart”, and , “worship the Lord in the beauty of Holiness”. We are only saved when we actually experience salvation in our lives when being justified/sanctified through an active faith as we “repent and believe the gospel”. We studied last week that within the 7 churches were many who needed still to repent and believe or they would be "removed", "spewed out", etc. In Isa 4:1 and 2 Thess 2:10-12, don't we find the reason for this lack exercising faith? The failure to repent of even one sin will prevent the wearing of the spotless garment Jesus would place upon every soul who believes.

    2. As Creator and Redeemer of all who have sinned, God(all 3) is shown to be worthy of our response in faith which will transform our lives. By this only do we truly worship the LORD. While this is not an instant transformation, it is ongoing and progressive(Prov 4:18) where faith is exercised in the life. Jesus can only save those who “ heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them”(Matt 7:24). If we truly find God and the Lamb worthy, it will be reflected in our daily experience(yes Phil, a life of self-renouncing love toward God and our fellow man).

    Regarding the Sabbath, only a holy people can “keep” a holy day, which is a sign that the Lord sanctifies His people(Ex 31:13,17).

  7. I am really great full for the reminder that as a child of God it is very important that we worship the Creator who love us and demonstrated His to us through sending His beloved Son Jesus Christ

  8. Phil, in response to your latest reply on propitiation:

    You have one very important consideration: Jesus' death. Why was it needed? What exactly did it accomplish? If you understand Lev 16, then you have the answer, and I believe the true meaning of propitiate.

    What/who demands the death of the sinner? Why?

    Answer this, and you will realize what/who is being "satisfied".

    Quick thought: can you separate God from His law, which is a transcript of His character?

    Now, if you arrive at God/His law, as the object needing propitiating, how does this mean He is angry? Notice that it is GOD who set Jesus forth as the propitiation. God was the one who offered the ram in the thicket as Isaac's substitute for the required sacrifice. Again, who/what required Isaac's death? How does this make God "angry", especially in the light of the offer He gives in Christ? (I hope your former understanding/idea of God is not still getting in the way of seeing this as clearly as the Bible presents it. How many times have you quoted Ex 34:6,7? It is true what God says there.)

    In all that you wrote, it seemed you had missed these considerations as I understood your comment.

    Also, the wicked will propitiate by their own death, which the just law demands. God is the author of this law, and is thus equally demanding. Now please don't let this language lead you astray as it has some. This is a fair and just demand. The soul that sins will die. But in Christ, we sinners have a choice to escape this required death, and we have it because God does NOT delight in the death of the wicked. He WANTS to save sinners and thus set Jesus forth as our propitiating death by His own blood.

    I hope you realize the full meaning of all this, and don't get distracted by thinking God is angry. Would an angry God offer a substitute for those He was angry with? This very offer of propitiation for sinners is proof God is NOT angry, isn't it? It is so obvious that Satan has worked overtime to prevent the preaching of the gospel and I'm afraid has been very successful doing so.

    Remember: "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." God angry? As Paul would say: "God forbid!"
    God has done too much to have anyone raise that false accusation. Check out Titus 2:11-14.


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