Saturday, April 13, 2024

Morning Message: The Alpha and Omega Speaks


Bobservations' Column
Titled - "The Alpha and Omega Speaks"
Written by:  Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Today’s re
ading in Daniel leads directly to today’s study in the Book of Revelation. Daniel 10:3 introduced the Prophet to the pre-incarnate Second Person of the Trinity. Among other things, it was Him that was in the fiery furnace of King Nebuchadnezzar with Daniel and his friends. Daniel’s description of Him is identical to that of Revelation 1:13 as John turns to see the voice that was speaking to him and had already identified Himself as “Alpha and Omega” in Rev. 1:9-11. And in our reading of Daniel 12:7-9 today, this Man’s message to Daniel was that the book was “sealed up till the time of the end.” Daniel did not seal it up, God did.

Back into Revelation 22 – Our study today reveals “the time of the end,” The entire Book of Revelation is chronological, and this chapter being the last written record of God revealing His plans for us and knowing that we are in the end-times if not the “last days,” is a fitting conclusion in this chapter. In other words, the Bible contains all the information necessary to assure mankind’s eternal destination as Believers, AND that also of non-believers. Things get very black-and-white as we get closer, and closer to the Lord’s return. There will be none that will be able to claim that they never knew, only the voice of Jesus saying, “I never knew you.”

Everything we need to know about God, about His will for us, and about His plan of Salvation is in His Holy Word: IT’S IN THERE! All that we need for a fulfilling and holy life that is pleasing to the Lord is within the pages of the Bible. It is written of in 66 books. 40 scribes have recorded God’s words for us, and each scribe is guided by the Holy Spirit.

It may take a little personal study to learn it, but the truth of God is like the parable of a treasure buried in a field, and the wise man buys the field so the treasure will be his. Or the parable of the woman who sweeps her whole house to recover a highly valued pearl that was lost.

The chapter even comes with warnings of pitfalls; pitfalls that many men have made already, and caused their names to be wiped from the Lambs’ Book of Life, or suffered through the plagues of Egypt. God’s warnings, and His love are evident throughout the Bible.

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Revelation 22:8-21 - "The Alpha and Omega Speaks"

Summary/Additional Commentary and Definitions:  

This week we come to the end of the book of Revelation.  This is part two of chapter 22, and the great themes of Revelation have already unfolded, and the doors have been opened. The rebellion of angels and man is over.  The kingdom of God has already been ushered in; all of God's enemies are in the lake of fire. The King of kings is on the eternal throne, assuming His sovereign right as King of the earth, and King over ALL.

Absolute holiness characters everything within God's kingdom. Sin has been obliterated. The redeemed, bought by the blood of the Lamb, are now in eternal glory. Everything is over that ever dealt with man, except for the permanency of eternity. 

The earth and the heavens have been recreated by chapter 22. The blazing prism of diamond transparent light, the glory city Jerusalem, has settled down into the eternal state. Light, beauty, holiness, joy, and the presence of God and the Lamb, worship and praise to God in the Lamb’s service and likeness to Christ are all eternal realities.

And as we enter into chapter 22, life is everywhere, because here we find infinite and eternal life.  The chapter begins by talking about the river of water of life. And we see ourselves in heaven in the eternal place.

In these final closing verses, the emphasis is that everything that we've read in this book is going to happen. And because it’s going to happen, you better do something about it. You better take it to heart.  You better respond to the Holy Spirit.  You better respond to God's final invitation to come to faith in Christ.   The Bible has come full circle:  It starts with the promise of a coming Savior who would redeem His people from their sins (Genesis 3).  Just as the Bible opens with the promise of Christ's first coming, it ends with the promise of His second coming.   

Jesus speaks in verse 7, "Behold, I come quickly..." Then you see it in verse 12, “Behold, I come quickly.” And you get over in verse 20, and you read, “Surely I come quickly.” There’s a kind of urgency here it’s pressing the Christian to respond and take care of some very important things. And it’s also pressed with the urgency of warning to the unbeliever.

In this final portion of the book of Revelation, there is a tremendous emphasis on the suddenness of the coming of Jesus. We know that the Bible has much to say about the fact that Jesus will come quickly, that He will come suddenly, that He will come in a moment, in an hour that you think not, that it’ll all happen in the twinkling of an eye, that it’ll be sudden, that it’ll be swift, and that it’ll be final.

The book of Revelation began with the words of Jesus to the seven churches. It concludes with the penetrating words of Christ, the Alpha and Omega, the Morning Star. The Lord of life and King of eternity is coming soon! May our earnest and sincere prayer be the same as John's: "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Quickly (22:7) - "Quickly" means suddenly, imminently, without delay.  The knowledge we have of Jesus soon return should not lead us to a life of idleness. Rather it should produce a life of diligence, obedience and worshipful service to God with an urgent proclamation of the gospel to unbelievers. 

Blessed is He Who Heeds... (22:7) - "Heed" means "guard." Believers are to guard and protect the book of Revelation against those who deny its relevance, its authority, and against those interpreters who obscure its meaning.  In fact, all of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation is to be guarded (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:13-14). 

Heard and Saw (22:8) - John resumes speaking for the first time since chapter 1 and confirms the veracity of the revelation with his own eyewitness testimony - the basis of any reliable witness.

Do Not Seal the Words (22:10) - See 10:11 - 
The prophet Daniel was informed that his "words [were] shut up and sealed until the time of the end" (Daniel 12:9), but John was told not to seal the words of the prophecy of Revelation (Revelation 22:10). For Daniel, innumerable events needed to transpire before his prophecy would be fully meaningful. For John's Revelation, no events needed to occur because the time was near. He had seen or heard everything relevant which would take place in the end time. Even if specific details were unclear, or yet to be fully realized, the message was ready for mankind to hear and understand. Previous prophecies were sealed up. These prophecies are to be proclaimed so they can produce obedience and worship.

The Time is at Hand (22:10) - This refers to imminency, which means that the end is next.  
No one knows when the Lord will return (Matthew 24:36), but the doctrine of imminence (Revelation 22:7) teaches the rapture could occur at any moment (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). We don't have to wait for any signs to be fulfilled to recognize this as the next major event in God's timeline. The signs Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24 primarily occur after the rapture, in the tribulation, before Jesus returns to earth in a blaze of glory (Revelation 19:11–16).

According to His Work (22:12) - 
God will recompense each person according to his deeds. Faithful believers may anticipate rewards, but unbelievers must face punishment. When the apostle Paul neared execution, he looked forward to receiving the crown of righteousness that the Lord would award to him. He added that he would not be the only one to receive this reward. He said all who have loved Jesus' appearing will also receive the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8). Other crowns (James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4) are promised to faithful believers that will likely be awarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Only those works which survive God's testing fire have eternal value and are worthy of reward.

Blessed Are Those Who Do His Commandments (22:14) - See 1:3 - 
Doing His commandments does not earn us eternal life, but it is evidence that we have been granted eternal life. Besides, there is an inherent blessing in doing His commandments, because they are good and right for us.  

Regarding the phrase "those who do His commandments," some translations interpret this to "those who have washed their robes" instead, symbolizing those who have been forgiven of their sins - who have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.  The difference is between two ancient Greek words:

HOIPLUNONTESTASSTOLAS (washed their robes) or


Dogs (22:15) - Whereas the righteous may enter New Jerusalem, the unrighteous are barred from entering the city. They are described as dogs and sorcerers, sexually immoral and murderers, idolaters, and lovers and doers of falsehood.  Dogs were considered despicable creatures in New Testament times.  They were seen as scavengers that mill around garbage. When applied to people, the term referred to anyone of low moral character. Unfaithful leaders (Isaiah 56:10) and homosexual prostitutes (Deuteronomy 23:18) are among those who received such a designation.

Sorcerers (22:15) - Those engaged in occult practices and drug abuse.

Whoremongers (22:15) - Immoral persons engaged in illicit sexual activities.

Murderers (22:15) - those who commit criminal intentional homicide.

Idolaters (22:15) - Idolaters worship false gods, including material objects and even human beings. Those who bore the mark of the beast were idolaters because they worshiped the beast. Colossians 3:5 cites covetousness as idolatry, thereby identifying as idolaters those who worship money and what it can buy.

The Churches (22:16) - The seven churches of Asia Minor which were the book's original recipients (1:11). 
Jesus had sent His angel to deliver the message of Revelation to the apostle John. He said the message of Revelation is "for the churches." Presumably, churches should be teaching and heeding the contents of this last book of the Bible. To ignore the book of Revelation is tantamount to rejecting the gift Jesus has presented to the churches.

The Root and Offspring of David (22:16) - Christ is the source (root) of David's life and line of descendants, which establishes His deity. He is also a descendant of David (offspring), which establishes His humanity. This phrase gives powerful testimony to Christ as the God-Man (see 2 Timothy 2:8). 
Jesus was born as a descendant of King David (Matthew 1:1, 6–16) He is the rightful heir to the kingdom God promised to David (2 Samuel 7:12–16). The angel Gabriel prophesied that Jesus would reign over His kingdom from the throne of His father David (Luke 1:31–33).

Bright and Morning Star (22:16) - This is the brightest star announcing the arrival of the day. When Jesus comes, He will be the brightest star who will shatter the darkness of man's night and herald the dawn of God's glorious day (see 2:28).  
 Malachi 4:2 promises Israel that the sun of righteousness will arise with healing in its wings. Revelation 22:16 identifies Jesus as "the bright morning star." Just as the morning star appears before the sun rises, so Jesus will come for the church before he returns to restore Israel to himself.

Come! (22:17) - This is the Spirit's and church's answer to the promise of His coming. There are 2 distinct invitations in this verse.  The first part of the verse is a prayer addressed to Christ.  "The Spirit and the Bride say come."  The Spirit longs to see Jesus exalted in beauty and splendor, power and majesty.  The Church, the Bride of Christ also longs for Christs return and echos the Spirits plea for Christ to come.  The church has awaited Jesus' return for centuries.  They long for Him, long to live with him (2 Timothy 4:8).  The second part is the last call for unbelievers to come to faith in Christ. Those who hear, who thirst and who wishes can take the water of life without cost, because the price has been paid through Jesus sacrificial death. 

Whosoever Will (22:17) - The final invitation in the Bible to come to Christ! The water of everlasting life is freely available to all who thirst for God and His righteousness. Salvation is given only to those who will come.

Let Him (22:17) - This is an unlimited offer of grace and salvation to all who desire to have their thirsty souls quenched.

The Words (22:18) - God's Word is Infallible, Inerrant, Complete, Authoritative, Sufficient, Effective and Determinative. The importance of the words in the Revelation are precise thoughts using precise words inspired by the Holy Spirit.

This Book (22:18) - the prophecies given in the Book of Revelation, and in a broader sense, he entire Bible itself. The "foundation" of divine revelation has been laid in the apostolic era and thus need not be laid again. Any new revelation is repeatedly warned against.

Take Away From the Words (22:19) - A very serious warning to those who dare to take away from God's prophetic word. Those who attempt to take away from, diminish, dismantle and pervert God's Word will be met with their own destruction.

Surely I Am Coming Quickly (22:20) - (See 3:11) 
In this verse we read Jesus' affirmation that He is surely coming "soon." As with similar statements in Revelation, this is translated from the Greek word tachys, which most literally means "quickly." This is more a statement on the way Jesus will return than a claim about when He will return. While there are no more major events left preceding His return, we cannot claim to know exactly when that moment will arrive (Matthew 24:36).

His coming may be soon—today or tomorrow, but the time of Jesus' return is locked up in the counsels of God. Whenever He comes, the event will occur quickly. First Corinthians 15:52 describes the event as occurring "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." John and the other disciples heard Jesus promise: "I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also" (John 14:3).

In light of this future expectation, what is now required of believers is outline by Peter (see 2 Peter 3:11-18).

Friday, April 5, 2024

Morning Message: The Tree of Life

Bobservations Column
Titled - "The Tree of Life"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Today, we are back to our on-going study of the Book of Revelation. We left off at the end of chapter 21 to celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and His glorious Resurrection a week later. With just one final chapter of Revelation to cover before finishing the Book, we are still freshly fed from the events of a Passover week some 2,000 years ago. “The angel of the Lord” came to mind as I prepared for this Sunday’s teaching.

We already see the multi-facetted character of Jesus Christ as Messiah, Redeemer, Savior, Lord God, King of kings, and Lord of lords. I am going to add to that list, in case you don’t already think of Jesus also as a Messenger sent from the Father. Literally, the word “angel” means messenger: one who is sent with a message. It gives us insight into the frequent use of the phrase “angel of the Lord, particularly in the Old Testament. Through the Prophets, God Himself sent messages to His people. Each of them had a holy and sanctified message to reveal to mankind. In the New Testament, the 12 Apostles were chosen to partake of the Good News Message that Jesus taught and shared. Then they were sent out to the four corners of the Earth to spread that message. In John 4, a Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob became a messenger to the Samaritans.

The well of Abraham was near to Beersheba, in Philistine territory. This was the well where Abraham’s servant found Rebekah as a wife for Isaac. And our reading today finds Jesus goes to another well to meet a woman, Jacob’s Well near Mt Gerizim, to a woman who is a descendant of Jacob, and therefore also of Abraham. And this woman took Jesus’ words to the men of Sychar, of the Samaritans. After speaking to Jesus, she too became a messenger. Though the Apostles objected, Jesus told them He had needs to go through Samaria, and it is no wonder; salvation is open to “whosoever.”

Ephesians 2:8 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

Bobservations' Column - Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Revelation 22:1-7 - "The Tree of Life"

Summary/Additional Commentary and Definitions

Here we are at the ending of the book of Revelation.  The ending is as dramatic and wonderful as the beginning.  Following God's final punishment of the wicked, the earth as we know it will be no more.  John records in chapter 21-22 the startling revelation of the city of God and the beginning of the eternal state.  Clearly, Paradise lost in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) will be Paradise regained!  Satan, the beast, and the false prophet have been thrown into the lake of fire forever.  God will create a new universe to be the eternal dwelling place of the redeemed.  The citizens of eternity - Old Testament saints, Tribulation saints, and all those converted during the millennial kingdom - will dwell in the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city marked by the awesome glory and presence of God.  

At the end of chapter 21, John described the beauty of New Jerusalem. This depiction briefly concludes here.  John was taken to a high mountain and shown the holy city, Jerusalem from a distance in chapter 21.  As if that weren't enough the angel takes John inside the city.  He describes for us a magnificent city, the capital city with a street of pure gold, transparent like glass.  There is no temple, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city has no need of sun, or moon for light, for the glory of God illumines it, and the lamp is the Lamb of God.  Amazing description. 

Revelation 22 is a remarkable passage, because in it the apostle John not only brings his correspondence to the seven churches of Asia minor to a beautiful climax, but in doing so he also depicts the glorious end of the redeemed people of God throughout the ages.

John’s purpose has been to comfort and encourage the Christians in the seven churches who are undergoing trials and persecution.

Chapter 22 takes us beyond those things that must take place (vv. 1–5). God’s redeemed people will find eternal rest and refreshment in and with Him. But the language used by John in this splendid word picture is comprehensive and provides a healing and glorious glimpse of what has been accomplished by the redeeming work of Christ. John speaks of the Tree of Life and its healing effects for the redeemed.

To grasp the significance of this scene we must go back to Genesis 3 and the aftermath of the fall of Adam and Eve.

In Revelation 22:1–5, three elements of Christ’s redeeming work experienced in this life but consummated in His return are on display. First, there is restoration. The earth is restored. Second, there is a reversal of the curses and consequences of sin introduced in Genesis 3. John says the leaves of the Tree of Life are good for the healing of the nations. Third, John’s mention of restored access to the Tree of Life includes complete reconciliation with God and a renewed intimacy with Him. This is set forth in verses 3–5. The throne of God and the Lamb will be in the midst of His people. They shall see His face, His name shall be on their forehead, and God shall be their light.

The reference to the leaves being used for "healing" leads some to suggest that New
 Jerusalem will exist somewhere above earth prior to the end of the millennium, others see this as a symbolic reference to permanent, eternal health and life. Light, as well, is a crucial metaphor in the Bible, representing truth and knowledge (John 8:12; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Matthew 4:16). John also notes that all evil, darkness, and night are gone from this holy city (Revelation 22:1–5).

Revelation then ends its description of the future and returns to more immediate commands from Jesus. The angel commends what John has seen as accurate and worthy of trust. This is followed by a statement reiterating the idea that "I am" is coming soon. This might have confused John, seeing as the words are those of Jesus, but it had been the angel speaking up to that point. Perhaps in confusion, John starts to worship the angel, but is immediately corrected. "And" beginning verse 7 marks a change in speakers.  The speaker is no longer the angel who spoke in verse 6, but Jesus Christ, the One who is coming quickly.  (Revelation 22:6–9).

The book of Revelation began with the words of Jesus to the seven churches. It concludes with the penetrating words of Christ, the Alpha and Omega, the Morning Star. The Lord of life and King of eternity is coming soon! May our earnest and sincere prayer be the same as John's: "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Faithful and True (22:1) - The words of Revelation are as faithful and true as the One who revealed them to John.  

River... of Life (22:1) - It
 is like, and yet unlike, all earthly streams. Its source is divine; its waters are bright; its flow is endless. The river is unlike any on earth because no hydrological cycle exists.  Water of life symbolizes the continual flow of eternal life from God's throne to heaven's inhabitants (see Zechariah 14:8; Ezekiel 47:1,2; Revelation 21:6).

Tree of Life (22:2) - A symbol of both eternal life and continual blessing. The last time we read about the tree of life was in the garden of Eden in Genesis. The tree of life was put in the midst of the garden (Genesis 2:9). When Adam and Eve sinned, they had to be cast out of the garden. This symbolized their separation from God. They could not be in eternal fellowship with God nor be in the presence of God because of sin. Eternal separation from God is the second death, as we saw in Revelation 20:6,10,14-15 and Revelation 21:8. The tree of life is now in the midst of New Jerusalem, representing God’s people having full fellowship with God and full access to God forever.

The Tree Bears Twelve Fruits (22:2) - 
Here then is the food of the redeemed—eternal nourishment, suited to their redeemed being! Here is perpetual spring, perpetual summer, perpetual autumn—no winter, no withering, no famine, no decay! Life for eternity, sustained by the fruit of the live-giving tree, which shall nourish all the parts and powers, mental and material, of our everlasting and incorruptible nature! One for each month and is symbolic of the abundant variety in heaven.  The English word "therapeutic" comes from the Greek word translated "healing."  The leaves somehow enrich heavenly life, making it full and satisfying.   The cherubim had once been directed by God to prevent sinful men from eating the fruit of the tree of life and living forever in their sins (Genesis 3:22-24).  In the New Jerusalem, however, the tree of life will always be freely accessible to all (See Ezekiel 47:7, 12).

No More Curse (22:3) - The curse on humanity and the earth as a result of Adam and Eve's disobedience (Genesis 3:16-19) will be totally finished.  God will never have to judge sin again, since it will never exist in the new heaven and new earth.

See His Face (22:4) - One of the beatitudes promises that the pure in heart will see God (Matthew 5:8). For all human history, no unglorified human could see God's face and live. John 1:18 declares that no one has seen God at any time, but that situation no longer exists in the heavenly city. God's redeemed, glorified servants will see His face, as Revelation 22:4 tells us, because now they are holy. Although New Jerusalem is a beautiful place, undoubtedly the best thing about it is the privilege given to God's servants to see His face. This suggests a degree of intimacy previously unknown.

His Name (22:4) - God's "name" stands for His character and His ownership of His servants. In the tribulation unbelievers received the mark of the beast on their foreheads as a pledge of their loyalty to him (Revelation 13:16–17). Throughout eternity God's servants will demonstrate their loyalty to the One who redeemed them. They are God's personal possession (see 3:12).

No night... candle... Light of the Sun (22:5) - His servants live in the light and the glory of God. Everything is now perfect. There is no more evil, no more sin, no more death, no more darkness (see Isaiah 60: 19-20).
For the Lord God giveth them light, immediately from himself, without the use of means and ordinances; and in his light the saints will see all things clearly; who will be always communicating it to them and will be their everlasting light.

They Shall Reign (22:5) - Heaven's citizens are more than servants (see Revelation 3:21). To him who overcomes, Christ will grant to that person to sit down with Him on His throne.  They will enjoy fellowship with Christ in the kingdom and throughout eternity.  That's not all, they will reign with Him (1 Corinthians 6:3; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:10; 20:6). 

His Servants (22:6) The members of the seven churches of Asia Minor who received this letter (1:11), and then all believers who have read or will read it since.

Things which Must Shortly Be Done (22:6) - This involves the entire revelation that John has just related. "Shortly" is two words in the Greek, "en tachos" which means "in haste. " The events prophesied in Revelation began to be fulfilled immediately, in the lives of the seven churches to whom the book was initially addressed, followed by the Church Age, the Tribulation and the Millennium period. 

Blessed is he who Keepeth (22:7) - What does it mean to Keep the book of Revelation?  It is a general command to observe, watch, preserve, hold fast.  Those who keep these words, long for Christ's return and our eternal fellowship with Him.   After reading and study the Book of Revelation, we love our Lord Jesus even more.  We want to be more like Him.  We desire the things of God, and long for the day we can be together.  Blessed are we, for our hope and our reward are in Him.

I Am Coming Quickly (22:7) - Jesus' return is imminent (see 3:11). Some argue that Christ’s coming could not possibly have been imminent for the early church, given the obvious fact that two thousand years later, He has still not returned. Skeptics often ridicule Christianity or challenge the inerrancy of Scripture on that very ground. After all, the verses cited at the beginning of this chapter do prove that James, Peter, John, Paul, and the writer of Hebrews all believed Christ’s return was very near— “at the door” (James 5:9); “at hand” (Philippians 4:5; 1 Peter 4:7); “approaching” (Hebrews 10:25); “com[ing] quickly” (Revelation 3:11; 22:7). Remember the clear statement of Christ in Matthew 24:42: “You do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” The exact time remains hidden from us, as it was from the apostles. But Christ could nonetheless come at any time. The Judge is still at the door. The day is still at hand. There are no other events that must occur on the prophetic calendar before Christ comes to meet us in the air. He could come at any moment. And it is in that sense that Christ’s coming is imminent. In the very same sense, His coming was imminent even in the days of the early church.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Morning Message: Jesus Raised Up


Bobservations' Column
Titled - "Jesus Raised Up"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The absolute power of God is revealed our reading today, John 10:14-18. As we look at our Risen Christ today in Matthew 28, we must acknowledge the transfer of power from Father to Son. None of the Gospels tell us everything, but when we read all of the Bible, the writers of its other Books provide tidbits of information that when taken together, the Holy Spirit provides us with a fuller understanding of the things He inspires His Holy Scribes to write.

Matthew tells us of Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” (presumed to be the mother of James and Joses, which means it was Mary, mother of Jesus) going to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. Mark’s Gospel tells us that it was three women: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome. (Mark 15 identifies Salome as the wife of Zebedee and mother of John and James the elder.). The Gospel of Luke reveals a woman named Joanna, and other women among them that went to Jesus’ burial tomb. Interestingly, Luke 8:3 tells us that Joanna was the wife of Chuza, who was Steward to Herod! Joanna and Susanna both ministered to Jesus “out of their substance.”

John’s Gospel mentions only Mary Magdalene going to the tomb, and seeing a gardener who speaks her name. It was the voice of Jesus, risen and alive. “Rabboni!” (Master) was her response to His voice.

This example gives us insight into the importance of reading ALL the Bible, and taking into consideration all the things that individual passages cover about events that are recorded in multiple Books of the Bible.

John tells us only of Mary Magdalene going to the tomb, and the other Gospel writers tell us that Mary, mother of Jesus; another Mary, mother of the Sons of Thunder (Zebedee’s boys), Joanna (wife of Herod’s Steward, Chuza), Salome and other unnamed women all went to the tomb.

Matthew 12 begins a teaching of Jesus in the Temple, with the Pharisees present. His words extend into Matthew 13…

In Matthew 13:55, 56, the Pharisees speak:
“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas (Jude)? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?” 
- The wisdom of God will always confound the wisdom of men. -

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Matthew 28:1-10, 11-15 - "Jesus Raised Up"

Summary/Additional Bible Notes:  

Today in our study of God’s Word we come to Matthew’s text on the resurrection of Jesus. In this wonderful chapter, Matthew gives His account of the greatest event in the history of the world, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. This is the great cornerstone of the Christian faith, and what truly sets Jesus apart as completely unique. Everything that we are and have and ever hope to be, all that we believe in is predicated on the reality of the resurrection. There would be no Christianity if there were no resurrection. Conversely because there is a resurrection, all elements of our faith are affirmed as true in every sense. The resurrection then is the cornerstone of our faith.

In the New Testament, the first sermon ever preached in the church was on the day the church was born and was preached by Peter in Acts 2. It's a sermon on the resurrection and it became the theme of all apostolic preaching. Peter preached again on the resurrection in chapter 4 and again in chapter 10. Stephen preached the resurrection in chapter 7. Philip preached the resurrection in chapter 8. Paul preached the resurrection in chapter 9 and chapter 13 and all the way on to chapter 28 of Acts.

And then we come to the theme of the epistles and it is the resurrection. In Romans it says Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father. In 1 Corinthians it says He rose again the third day according to the Scripture. In 2 Corinthians, He who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise us up also. Galatians says by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead. And we read in Ephesians which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead. And Paul says in Philippians that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection. And in Colossians, God who raised Him from the dead. And in 1 Thessalonians, His Son whom He raised from the dead. And Peter says that He has, in chapter 1 verse 3, begotten us to a living hope by the resurrection of Christ. And even when you come to the book of Revelation it begins by saying that Christ has the right to take the earth because it is He who was dead and is alive forever more.

The whole theme of the New Testament is the resurrection of
Jesus Christ. Here is the foundation of all our hope. For it was Jesus who said, “Because I live, ye shall live also.”
It was Jesus who said in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.” The resurrection is the core of all that we believe. And so this morning we come with great excitement to read this record of our Lord’s resurrection.

“He is risen!” These are 3 words that have changed the very outlook and trajectory of all humankind. These 3 words are the key to the Christian faith.

For just as Jesus promised, He rose from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection reveals that He is Living and Ruler of His eternal kingdom. It is the resurrection of Jesus that brings us each a hope that beyond this life of which we live. Death is not the end. It is merely the beginning. Remarkably, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, the Holy Spirit is within each Believer as He raises us from our own spiritual death to life.

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Sabbath (28:1) - According to Exodus 20:8–11, the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, on which the children of Israel were to rest, in remembrance that God created the universe in six days and then “rested” on the seventh day. "In the end of the sabbath" means "after the sabbath." In the Jewish reckoning, the day began at sundown, so the first day of the week was already well along when "it began to dawn."

Began to dawn (28:1) - means the beginning of the twilight before sunrise.

Great Earthquake (28:2) - This is the second earthquake in just three days. There was an earthquake when Christ died, you remember, that split the rocks wide open and opened graves and dead people came alive among the saints. This is the second earthquake. God again is moving and demonstrating in a physiological way His activity. (See: Exodus 19:18, at the giving of the law; 1 Kings 19:11, God came in an earthquake;  Joel 2:10, at the time of the coming of the Lord there will be an earthquake; Matthew 24:7, Jesus Himself even referred to it in the great Olivet Discourse about the earthquake that’s going to be coming, or earthquakes, attendant with His return. When God begins to move in the world the world shakes.

Countenance Like Lightning (28:3) - Countenance or his face ... like lightning, flashing, brilliant, blazing.  It is the glow of God transmitted to these angelic creatures, 

His Raiment ... White As Snow (28:3) - His Clothing, white as snow, signifying purity, holiness or virtue.

Angel of the Lord (28:2) - Angel means messenger.  They are ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation. 

As He Said (28:6) - Many times we have read angels saying, "fear not."  These messengers from God gently remind both the women and the disciples what Jesus had repeatedly promised that He would rise from the dead in the third day.

He is Not Here (28:6) - The Greek text says, “He was raised.” He is not here. He was raised. And the word is a word to indicate resurrection from the dead. There’s no question that Jesus was dead. That’s why the soldiers who were experts at death didn’t break His legs. He was already dead. They thrust a spear into His side penetrating the sac around the heart and out came the blood from His heart and the water from the pericardium. He was dead. And lying in that tomb for this the third day – no question He was dead.

He is Risen (28:6) - He was raised. The Bible emphasizes that He was raised by the power of the Father. Over and over again it says that in Scripture: Romans 6:4, Galatians 1:1, 1 Peter 1:3. It also says in John 10:18, “I have power to lay My life down and I have power to take it up again.”  He was raised not only by the Father, but He was raised by His own power. In Romans 8:11 it says He was raised by the power of the Spirit. “It is the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead.”  These are not contradictions, the clear truth that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are One. The whole Trinity is involved in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Behold, He Goes Before You Into Galilee (28:7) A fulfillment of prophecy. The angel's message is to tell them they will indeed see the resurrected Christ.  There shall you see Him. They will become eye- witnesses when they see Him in Galilee. This is the climax of Matthew’s gospel. The promise of the resurrection would be fulfilled.  Jesus said it in chapter 26:32, “After I am raised up, again I will go before you into Galilee.”  I’ll meet you all in Galilee. 

All Hail (28:9) - Jesus Greets them.  "All Hail" in the Greek is
"chairĊ" meaning "to joy, rejoice, be glad."  

Be Not Afraid... Go Tell My Brethren (28:10) - The evidence of the resurrection. The women are now grasping the living Christ. Their emotions quickly change from mourning, and fear, to joy and hope in the risen Savior. “Go tell My brethren” – those who are now My brethren, those who now belong to Me who are in the family – Go tell them. Tell them that I’ll see them in Galilee. We’ll have a great convocation and commissioning there.”

Reported Among the Jews (28:15) - The willfulness of unbelief. The soldiers on watch knew that Christ was risen.  They had felt the great earthquake and seen the angel break the seal and roll the stone away (28:2-4).  They knew Christ was gone, and that the disciples could not have stolen the body.  The chief priest knew it too. So great was their concern, that they persuaded the governor to seal the tomb and set the guard.  The soldiers entrusted to guard the tomb under penalty of death.  Yet here they all are willing to spread the lie that the disciples had stolen the body.  The Jews were willing to believe the lie. 

All Power (28:18) - This constitutes a clear claim to omnipotence, and therefore to deity.  Jesus was omnipotent Creator in the beginning (John 1:1-3), He laid aside His deity to become man and die for the sin of the world (Ph 2:5-8).  Now, having become Redeemer as well as Creator, He has again assumed all the attributes of God, as well as those of glorified man.

Go Ye Therefore (28:19) - At this point, Jesus had already told them He was sending them into all the world to make disciples.

Holy Ghost (28:19) - The doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught here.  One God, yet three Persons each equally and full God - Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.  

Observe All Things (28:20 -All things mean all things.  We cannot profess Christ while rejection any of His teachings (biblical inerrancy, literal creation, global flood, virgin birth, resurrection from the dead).  It's all, or none!

With You Alway (28:20) - Christ has ascended back to heaven, but He is present in every believer in the person of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17).

What does the Resurrection mean?
  • The Word of God is true. The record of the Word of God is true. It affirms the truthfulness of Scripture.
  • Jesus is the Son of God as He claimed to be.
  • Jesus is God, with the power over sin and death.
  • Salvation is complete, that on the cross He conquered sin and death and hell and rose victorious.
  • The Church is established. in Matthew 16 He said, “I’ll build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it?” And the gates of hell is a colloquial expression for death in that culture. He says, “I’ll build My church and death won’t stop Me,” and it didn’t. His resurrection proved that death could not stop Him from building His church.
  • Judgment is coming. The Judge is alive who will judge every man and women and determine their eternal destiny.
  • Heaven is waiting. In John 14 He said, “I’m going to go away, but if I go, I will come again. And when I go, I go to prepare a place for you, because in My Father’s house are many mansions.” Heaven is waiting and Christ is preparing it for His own.
Sunday Morning Audio Message:

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Morning Message: The Time Is At Hand

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "The Time Is At Hand"
Written by:  Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As we enter Easter/Passover Week, we are taking a two week break from our study in Revelation. We have been following events of the future, and it's time to pay closer attention to the most important week of Jesus’ life while on Earth.

Palm Sunday was a day of joy and celebration for Jesus’ flock that has followed him for a week or two from the Galilee Region. As they climb the Mount of Olives from the east, they leave the towns Bethpage, and Bethany behind them, and cresting the top of the Mount, Jerusalem comes into view, that glorious City. It was at that time, as it is today, as steep climb down to cross the Kidron Valley, and before coming to the rise again leading up into Jerusalem. His followers are filled with excitement, anticipating His victorious taking of the Throne of David.

Getting caught up in an exciting event, it is easy to become distracted in the minute-to-minute things and lose sight of what is really going on. Jesus was leading His flock into Jerusalem. Passover was only a week away. Surely, this was the time for Jesus to claim the Throne of David, as David’s rightful heir. Israel’s release from the occupying Army of Rome would bring freedom to the Jews. What could possibly go wrong?

But Jesus had told His Disciples not long ago about the trip to Jerusalem.
He had to go to the City, the priests and leaders would charge Him, and being turned over to the Gentile Army of Rome, He would be condemned, beaten, abused and crucified!

Caught up in the excitement they were all feeling, they lost sight of Jesus’ own prophetic words spoken earlier. For us, we know how easy it is to be drawn away by distractions of all sorts, any sort! How do we rid ourselves of the distractions. Get your heart off the excitement, and touch base with reality again. Quiet yourself and prepare to hear from the Holy Spirit indwelling you.

Jesus said, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” - Matthew 6:6

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version:

Sunday Morning Audio Message:
Matthew 21:1-17 - "The Time Is At Hand"

Summary/Additional Bible Notes:  

In Matthew 21, we come to a monumental moment in the history of our Lord. This is the triumphal entry, the event we call Palm Sunday.

Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem to all of the praise and hosannas of the people who are acclaiming Him as the King and the Messiah. In this triumphant day of acclamation, what looked like the most hopeful moment in the life of our Lord, are many thousands of people shouting Hosanna to their conquering hero.

Palm Sunday is a day for Hallelujahs, a day for Hosannas. As King Jesus enters Jerusalem to the praise of His people, the waving of palm branches, the casting of their garments at His feet. This is the day when the people of Jerusalem and of all Israel gathered for the Passover. People who were even Gentile proselytes to Judaism, were all in a massive mob hailing Him as Son of David, King of Israel. A day in which the anticipation of the long-awaited Messiah seemed to have met its fruition, its fulfillment. Finally, He had come. Finally, the one they had prayed for and longed for had arrived. Tragically, by Friday He was dead; really, at the hands of the very people who had hailed Him on Sunday.

The death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross was no accident. It was not a bad ending to a noble effort by a good man. In fact, Jesus’ death on the cross was not the ending of His story; it was really the beginning of our salvation. The death of Jesus Christ was not even the end of His life. It was the goal of His life, and the beginning of our eternal lives.

Jesus and the disciples have nearly completed their long journey from the region of Galilee in the north to Jerusalem. They have now travelled the last leg from Jericho to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, not far from Jerusalem's gates.

Before entering Jerusalem, though, Jesus directs two of His disciples to go into a village where they will find a donkey and its colt tied up. Jesus has arranged to ride the colt into Jerusalem to intentionally fulfill a prophecy about the Messiah. Zechariah predicted the King would come humbly and riding a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). The symbolism of this is easy to miss. Donkeys are common work animals and unsuited for battle. Victorious conquerors of that era would parade on horses, much as a modern general might ride into a city on the back of a tank. Riding a donkey, rather than a warhorse, is more like a modern person sitting in a pickup truck. In the future, Christ will come in power and judgment (Revelation 19:11–16). This time, His arrival is consistent with His role as a sacrificial Savior (Matthew 21:1–7).

As Jesus rides toward the gates, the large crowd following Him is joined by even more people coming out of Jerusalem, who have heard He is arriving. They put their outer garments and branches on the road in front of Him as symbols of submission and Jewish victory. They also shout out lines from Psalm 118 that are meant for the Messiah: "Hosanna to the Son of David!" and "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" Jerusalem is stirred up. People who don't know ask who Jesus is. Some reply that He is a prophet from Nazareth of Galilee (Matthew 21:8–11).

Jesus later enters the massive temple in Jerusalem. He drives out those selling and buying animals. He overthrows the tables and benches of the moneychangers. This seems to be a second, separate incident from the one recorded in the gospel of John (John 2:13–22). Jesus' anger is not about business or money, itself, but the crass way in which these men are profiting from the spiritual needs of the people (Matthew 21:12–13).

While at the temple, Jesus heals some blind and lame people who come to Him for help. Some children see this and begin to repeat the praises of the crowds as Jesus rode into town. Jesus defends the children to some chief priests and scribes who question Him. He does this, once again, by citing Old Testament Scripture (Matthew 21:14–17).

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Mount of Olives (21:1) - The Mount of Olives, sometimes referred to as “Olivet” in the KJV (2 Samuel 15:30Acts 1:12) or “the mount facing Jerusalem” (1 Kings 11:7), is a ridge running along the east side of Jerusalem, separated from the city walls by a ravine and the Brook Kidron. The Mount of Olives was the site of many events in the Bible and will be the site of a yet-future fulfillment of prophecy.  Jesus’ visiting the Mount of Olives three times in the last week of His earthly life, and each time something of significance happened. The first visit is what we call the triumphal entry.  second visit was to deliver what has come to be known as the Olivet Discourse, recorded in Matthew 24:1 —25:46.  Jesus’ third visit during the week of His passion was on the night He was betrayed. 

A Colt with Her (21:2) - The parallel accounts in Mark 11:2 and Luke 19:30 only mention one donkey, but that does not mean they deny that two were involved.  Matthew is the only one who mentions that this incident was in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, but the others must have known this reference.

Spoken by the Prophet (21:4) - See Zechariah 9:9. Here for the first time Christ presented Himself publicly to the Jews as their promised Messiah and King.

The Multitudes (21:9) - The fickle multitudes unwittingly fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 118:25-26.  They only perceived Jesus as "the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee" (21:11) and expected Him to defeat Roman rule and restore the kingdom to Israel.  While they had frequently called Him "son of David," they had a knowledge without understanding.  Understanding the importance of Jesus's lineage, and His legal right as heir to David's throne, they did not know Him as Savior, Redeemer, and Lord.  These Multitudes who shouted "Hosanna" meaning "save now", in just five short days shouted crucify Him. 

Cast Out All Them (21:12) - Jesus had similarly cleansed the temple near the very beginning of His earthly ministry (John 2:13016), yet only a few years later the religious profiteers were at it again.  This second purging, probably as much as anything else, caused the rulers to determine to have Him executed.

It Is Written (21:13) - There is nothing that reproves more that the Scriptures themselves.  See Hebrews 4:12-14.   This is Jesus' turf, because this is the House of God.  Jesus shows them what the temple should be, and was designed to be; "My house shall be called the house of prayer;" which is quoted from Isa. 56:7.  Then Jesus shows them their sinful hearts.  They had abused the temple and perverted the intention of it quoting from Jeremiah 7:11, "Ye have made it a den of thieves." Jesus comes and sees this horrifying but familiar scene. And it says to us something so important; it says that Christ came, first of all, to deal with men on a spiritual level.  He came to throw out corrupt worship and to bring in true worship. Only He has divine authority to do so.

Have Ye Never Read (21:16) - Again Jesus quotes the Scriptures. Quoting Psalm 8:2, Jesu rebuked "the chief priests and scribes" for rebuking the children crying in the temple (21:15). Two Hebrew words used in Psalm 8:2 to refer to infants under the age of three, because Hebrew mothers suckled their babies until they were about three - “‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise.’” In other words, even little babies can simply, and in an uncluttered way, praise God. He’s using that Psalm as an illustration of what is going on. If God will not be praised out of the mouths of the mature, He will be praised out of the mouths of the immature. God is going to get His praise to His Son, “even if the stones have to cry out,” - Luke 19:40.

And He Left Them (21:17) - Haunting words to those who deny Christ. 
And in that simple, physical act, there was a volume of truth. “He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there.” He really left them, because the next day, in verse 23, they come and say, “By what authority do You do these things, and who gave You this authority?” And in verse 27, He gets around finally to saying, “Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.” He left them. He had nothing more to say.  It’s reminiscent of Genesis 6, where the Bible says, “God’s Spirit will not always strive with man.” There comes a time when He leaves.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Morning Message: All Things Are New

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "All Things Are New"
Written by:  Pastor Bob Lawrenz

From Roman Catholicism we have the legend of the Irish Saint driving the snakes out of Ireland. Born in 385 AD, St. Patrick was never actually declared a Saint by the Church. Neither was he actually Irish. Born in Britain to two Roman citizens, Maewyn Succat was most likely Scottish, or Welch.

As a teenager, Maewyn was kidnapped in a pirate raid, and sold into slavery in Ireland! He found himself herding and watching over sheep in his young life, but eventually escaped to a monastery in England. While finding refuge there, he became a devout Christian, and later became a missionary to Ireland in order to bring Christianity to the Irish. Besides being a missionary and ordained as a Priest (at which time he took the name of Patrick [its Latin root meaning “father.”]), he eventually became a Bishop in Ireland, and was deemed its Patron Saint. He was also dubbed the Patron Saint of Engineers because of the many churches he caused to be built around that island country.

There are several parallels between Patrick’s life and King David’s, as well as both their lives sharing in the Life of Jesus Himself. All three share in the life of a shepherd, Jesus being the Shepherd of our Souls

Next week for Palm Sunday, we will read of Jesus leading His “flock” into Jerusalem and fulfilling prophecy during the final week of His life on Earth.

During Patrick’s life, as lore would have us believe, he drove the serpents out of Ireland. But given the climate there, I wonder if it was not the serpent of evil.

The snakes and serpents of this world have taken over the whole Earth and Satan, that old serpent has defiled it thoroughly. When Jesus calls from heaven, He will call His flock to His side in the Rapture. His Church will be brought out of the defiled world and from that point, we will always be with Him. The snakes on Earth will be brought even lower than they already are and cast into the Lake of Fire.

1 Peter 2:25 -
“For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd, and Bishop of your souls.”
Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning Audio Message:
Revelation 21:9-27 - "All Things Are New"

Summary/Additional Bible Notes:  

John attempts to describe the New Jerusalem in terms others can understand. In doing so, he mentions precious materials such as gold and jasper, but associates them with properties those materials don't normally have. Gold, for instance, is not normally "clear," and neither is jasper. This is John's struggle in explaining what he sees; a modern person might say they saw smoke that looked like "transparent lead," and those hearing it would understand the mixture of two separate ideas. Here, John does something similar in his effort to describe the indescribable (Revelation 21:9–21). Describing the effect of God's glory radiating from the New Jerusalem, the city appeared to the apostle like one gigantic precious stone. It was crystal-clear and unblemished.  Heaven's capital city is thus pictured as a huge, flawless diamond, refracting the brilliant, blazing glory of God throughout the new heaven and the new earth.

John also points out that there is no temple in this new city, since there is no need for a temple. Temples, priests, and rituals are all necessary when man is somehow separated from God. Two people speaking face-to-face don't need telephones or letters; those living in direct communion with God won't need a temple. This description also re-emphasizes the perfect holiness of this New Jerusalem, and the fact that only those who put their faith in Christ will be found there (Revelation 21:22–27). Revelation 22 is the final chapter of the New Testament. There, John will complete his description of the New Jerusalem and give some final words to those who read this text.

The most distinguishing characteristic of the capital city of eternity is that it is the throne of the eternal, Almighty One, and therefore had the glory of God in it.  Radiating from the New Jerusalem will be the brilliance of the full manifestation of God's glory, so much so that "the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

The chapter concludes revealing that this great glory, security, and fellowship are available for all people. The nations walk by its light and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it. They will bring the glory and the honor of the nations (21:26). Isaiah also prophesied of this moment.

Those who do not submit to God will not be allowed to enter through the gates. Only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life can enter into this glorious fellowship with God and receive the eternal blessings and rewards. These images portray the glory and blessings we will enjoy in full fellowship with God in the age to come after Christ returns.

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

The Lamb's Wife (21:9) - The New Jerusalem takes on the character of its inhabitants, the redeemed (see verse 2; 19:7-9).

Jasper (21:11) - This is a transliteration, not a translation, of the Greek word.  Rather than the modern opaque jasper, the term actually refers to a completely clear diamond, a perfect gem with the brilliant light of god's glory shining out of it and streaming over the new heaven and the new earth (see 4:3).

Twelve Gates (21:12)The description of the New Jerusalem is a literal city on a literal earth with dimensions and descriptions exactly as recorded. In order to understand the significance of the twelve gates being inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes, we must look to the beginning of the Old Testament, when God promised a new land and a great nation to Abraham, whose descendants would spread blessing upon all other nations (Genesis 12:1–3). To Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, whom God later named “Israel” (Genesis 32:28), twelve sons were born to establish the twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 49). Those twelve tribes escaped slavery in Egypt, inherited the Promised Land (Exodus 6:14; 24:4), received the Law (Exodus 20), and were chosen by God to be His covenant people (Exodus 19:5–6).

During the reign of David, out of all the territories of the tribes of Israel, God chose the city of Jerusalem in Judah as the place where God’s name would rest (2 Chronicles 12:13). Revelation speaks of the New Jerusalem that has been prepared for the reign of the Lamb (Revelation 21:1–3). This New Jerusalem sits on twelve foundations, representing the twelve apostles who would reign over the twelve tribes of Israel (verse 14; cf. Matthew 19:28 and Luke 22:30). The gates of the city are symmetrically arranged: “There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west” (Revelation 21:13). Each gate of the New Jerusalem bears the inscription of one of the tribes of Israel, and each gate is guarded by an angel (Revelation 21:12). These angels are there to let in “only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (verse 27).

It is through the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem that the true tribal people—believers of Jewish descent as well as Gentiles who have been “grafted in” with God’s people (Romans 11:17–25)—will enter the joy of the Lord (see Matthew 25:21).

Twelve Names (21:12) - Celebrating for all eternity God's covenant relationship with Israel. The gates of the New Jerusalem are inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Israel was chosen by God to be a light to all nations (Isaiah 49:5–7; Romans 9:23–25), and God will never revoke Israel’s status as His chosen people (see Romans 11:29). The New Jerusalem thus contains a tribute to the patriarchs of Israel. It also contains a tribute to the apostles (Revelation 21:14), so both Old Testament and New Testament are represented in the city—the New Jerusalem is filled with the elect of God from all eras. 

Twelve Tribes (21:12) - The twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles of the Lamb (21:14) are inscribed on the city's foundational structures, and this indicates that "the bride, the Lamb's wife" (21:9) is composed of believers from both old and new covenants, both before and after the first coming of Christ, Israel and the church.  Compare also Ephesians 2:14, 19-21.

Twelve Foundation Stones (21:14) - These stones commemorate God's covenant relationship with the church, with the apostles as the foundation (Ephesians 2:20).  At the top of each gate was the name of one of the apostles.  The layout of the city's gates pictures God's favor on all His redeemed people, both those under the old and new covenants. 

Gold Reed (21:15) - The reed was about ten feet long, which was a standard of measurement.

Measure the City (21:15) - The angel is with a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates, and its walls. These vast measurements of the city are to show that the people of God are secure and safe. This city with its perfect dimensions in equal length, width, and height represents God’s presence with his people who have been made perfect (Hebrews 12:22-24). This action indicates that the capital of heaven belongs to God and He is measuring what is His (see 11:1).

Length, Breadth, and Height (21:16) - The city has the symmetrical dimensions of a perfect cube, which parallels its closest earthly counterpart, the inner sanctuary in the tabernacle and temple.

Twelve Thousand Furlongs (21:16) - This would be nearly fourteen hundred miles cubed or over two million square miles, offering plenty of room for all the glorified saints to live.

One Hundred and Forty-Four Cubits (21:17) - Seventy-two yards or two hundred sixteen feet; likely the width of the wall.

Jasper (21:18) - See verse 11. This is the material of the thick wall-diamond.

Pure Gold, Like Clear Glass (21:18) - Unlike earth's gold, this gold will be transparent so the over-powering radiance of God's glory can refract and glisten through the entire city.

Chalcedony (21:19) - This name derives from Chalcedon, an ancient name for a city in modern Turkey.  The gem is a sky-blue agate stone with translucent, colored stripes.

Sardonyx (21:20) - A gem with a transparent gold or yellowish tone.

Sardius (21:20) - A common stone from the quartz family, which ranged in color from orange-red to brownish-red to blood-red (4:3).

Chrysolite (21:20) - A gem with transparent gold or yellowish tone.

Beryl (21:20) - A mineral with several varieties of gems, ranging from the green emerald to the golden yellow beryl to the light blue aquamarine.

Topaz (21:20) - Ancient topaz was a softer stone with a yellow or yellow-green color.

Chrysoprase (21:20) - The modern form of this jewel is an apple-green variety of quartz.  The Greek name suggests a gold-tinted, green gemstone.

Jacinth (21:20) - Today this stone is a transparent zircon, usually red or reddish-brown.  The one John saw was blue or shining violet in color.

Amethyst (21:20) - A clear quartz crystal that ranges in color from a faint purple to an intense purple.

Twelve Pearls (21:21) - The pearly gates are never closed (21:25), thus providing access to the city at every level throughout its great height. Each gate is composed of 1, 380 miles of solid pearl.

One Pearl (21:21) - Each of the gates of the city is a single, fifteen-hundred-mile-high pearl.  Even as earthly pearls are formed in response to the wounding of oyster flesh, so these gigantic, supernatural pearls will remind saints throughout eternity of the magnitude of Christ's suffering and its eternal benefit. 

No Temple (21:22) - Several passages affirm that there is a temple in heaven (3:12; 7:15; 11:19; 15:5).  Here, it is clear there is none in eternity.  How can this be?  The temple is not a building; it is the Lord God Himself.  Verse 23 continues the thought of no temple, except God and the Lamb.  The glory of God that illuminates all heaven defines it as His temple.  There is no need for a temple in the eternal state since God Himself will be the temple in which everything exists.  The presence of God literally fills the entire new heaven and new earth (see verse 3).  Going to heaven will be entering the limitless presence of the Lord. 

The Nations (21:24) - Literally "the peoples," this means that the redeemed people from every nation and ethnic group will dwell in heaven's light.  In the eternal city, there will be no more divisions, barriers, or exclusions because of race or politics.  All kinds of peoples in eternity dissolve into the people of God, and they will move freely in and about the city.

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