In Revelation (Ch. 10-11), there is a pause in the action between the 6th and the 7th trumpet. Trumpets 1-5 are wake up calls to help people focus on Jesus’ return. The 7th trumpet is the announcement of His arrival and the end of the world.
We are given a quick pause so that God can show us what we need to do to prepare for the end of the world. During this time, He shows John 3 things. First, John gets a private message that he is not supposed to write down (10:4). This was personal message for only John and it shows that the first thing you need to survive the end of the world is a personal connection to God, Himself. We find this in prayer and meditation.
The third (yes, I skipped) thing we need to survive the end of the world is found in the beginning of the next chapter (11:1-2). John is told to measure the temple and that those outside the temple would be trampled. The temple he is measuring is one that is made of living stones (I Peter 2:5). This is a symbolic way of saying that we need to have a connection with God’s people (the church) if we want to make it through the end.
The second thing we need to survive is found back in chapter 10 (10:10-11). It is a little book that open to everyone that desires to read from it. John is told to eat the book and then vomit it back up. Symbolically, it is saying that John is to make the Bible (the book open to anyone) a part of his very being (like food that we eat). He is to fill himself so full of the Word of God that it overflows out of him - in his words and actions.
There are two things in the Bible called the word of God. The first is the Scriptures (Heb. 4:12) and the second is Himself (Rev. 19:13). This is not a coincidence. You can not really know Jesus if you ignore HIs message to you. You need to read it for yourself and study it - and in the process, you get to know (not just learn about) Jesus.
However, many people don’t read the Bible for themselves - they say things like “it’s boring” or “I don’t understand it”. This is because they are trying to read it as a book and by themselves. The Word of God is meant to be read WITH GOD, not about God. Jesus said (Matt 13:3) that not everyone could understand his message when he speaks to them. That is because they are trying to understand without trying to connect with hIm. So the parables that he spoke were just empty stories. But the people who walked with Jesus and had a relationship with him understood what he was trying to say because they understood him. This continues into the reading of the Bible. If you just read it occasionally or second hand (like when you are told to read it in a Bible study), you are not walking with God and you are missing what the Holy Spirit is saying to you.
You have to CONSUME the Bible and make it a part of your life - and let it overflow out of your hear - or you are missing the meaning.
When you do understand the words, it brings a form of power (not from you) that can transform the world.
Hebrews 4:12: For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and sprit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The Word of God has the power to lead people to peace. This is world changing.
But, some have used the Bible to bring chaos and hate. This, again, is because they have not understood the message of the gospel.
A good way to really understand what God is saying through His word comes from one of the best known songs of King David (Psalm 119:105) - Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
If Jesus is the Word of God and He is standing on your feet to light your path, then He must be embracing you (that is the only way he could keep from falling off). In short - the Word of God is meant to be a Hug from heaven. It is meant to bring love and peace, not hate and condemnation. It is meant to wake us up and change us, but never to break us or destroy us.
This is discipleship.
We have been talking about how we progress with our faith. First, through Jesus, we are able to remove all the baggage that has weighed us down and kept us from being the person God made us to be. We are transformed into creatures of light so that we can step into the very throne room of God without begin destroyed by His purity. In the throne room, we find that we are not only accepted by God, but we are adopted as His children. Finally, we are given the help of the Holy Spirit to continue to live in such a way that we remain worthy of the name “Children of the Most High God”.
The Holy Sprit’s task is to help us create a world of peace - both with God and with the people around us (especially other Christians since they are trying to do the same thing). This connection of peace with other people is a huge deal to God. It is stressed many times through the Bible.
One of the interesting titles that the Holy Spirit is given, that shows his role in developing peace between Christians, is found in the book of Revelation: From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. (4:5). To understand this imagery, you need to understand the Jewish culture of the time and the symbols that have already been found in Scripture.
The ‘seven sprits of God’ (sometimes called the ‘7-fold Sprit’) is an image that God wants us to picture when thinking of the Holy Spirit. In the Jewish culture, the number 7 meant ‘perfection or completeness. In other words, to say the Sprit of God is 7-fold is to say that this is the complete and perfect Holy Spirit.
But why not just say the ‘Holy Spirit’? Why split the image into 7 parts?
The answer to this is found in Revelation 1. John sees a Menorah (a candlestick with 8 candles). He is told that the 7 of the candles are the churches and that the light that burns on the candles is the Holy Spirit. (the 8th candle is used to light the other candles and this is represented by Jesus himself). This is to symbolize that God has placed the Holy Spirit into His Church on earth. Though there are many different kinds and locations, they all lit by His Holy Spirit.
Revelation gives us a couple of other things to think about when talking about God’s church.
First, in Revelation 4, John enters the throne room of God and finds the church in front of God’s throne - meaning it is part of God’s plan. But to get into the throne room, John has to walk through Jesus - the door (which of course symbolizes how Jesus is the only way to God). Standing in front of the door (in Revelation 1) is the candle that represents the church and the only way to get to the door is by walking through the light. This is a strong message from God that the church is an important part of our story. He does not want us to try and walk this path alone, we need to walk it together (which is how we find peace).
Second, in Revelation 2-3, we see that Church’s are not perfect. Just because they call themselves Christians and are walking in the light of the Holy Spirit does not make the Church infallible. The churches are made up of broken people who are working hard at finding the peace God brings. We are all trying to find the right path with God and we all fall down. The point of the church is that we help each other stand, not expect perfection. When we are working together to reach God’s throne room, we find a perfection that only God can bring - but when we expect Christians to be without problems, pains, mistakes, or anything else human, we put a burden on each other that is not realistic and can drive people away.
The Holy Spirit wants to guide us to a peace between us, God, and each other. He does this by using an imperfect organization which makes us have to work together to stand.
So what do we do if our church is broken?
First - you should trust the Holy Spirit to guide you. He brought you to that church, so ask Him what He wants you to do there.
Second - you should help people stand in their brokenness and seek others that will help you stand. Look for those that encourage you and remember that those people that are not encouraging are in a broken place. Give them grace.
Third - again, trust in the Holy Spirit to guide you. He wants you to be at peace - and maybe the reason the church you are at is broken is because He needs you somewhere else and is moving you.
The point is - don’t give up too quickly on a church. Can you speak peace there? Is it speaking peace into your life? If so, stay. If you are being pulled from God, ask God to pull you back and put you in a church that speaks peace into your heart.
This is discipleship.
We know that in order to have peace, we must be the person that God created us to be. That person stands in the very presence of God because they have have been accepted as a child of the Living God.
We also know that in order for a person (who is born in darkness) to be able to stand in the presence of God (who is light) that person must be transformed into light also. This is done through the work of Jesus who takes our darkness and replaces it with His light.
These two acts can be seen in two of the three sacrifices of Leviticus.
The first sacrifice is called the “Sin Offering” or the “Atonement offering” or the “Purification offering” - all of which mean the same thing, that we are not worthy to enter the presence of God because we are “unclean” or “unholy”. So the first sacrifice takes care of this problem by cleansing us and using the blood of a substitute offering (the lamb) to make us acceptable before God. This is the work of Jesus.
The second sacrifice is called the “Burnt Offering” because it is the only time the entire offering is destroyed in the fire. This symbolizes a special meal - the best of what we can offer - given to God (our King) as a tribute to declare our obedience and allegiance to only Him. This gives us entry into the very throne room of the Living God. This is where we find peace and this is our ultimate goal — to be near God.
But what then? What happens when we have gained access to God?
The third sacrifice shows us what we need to do next - live righteously before God and with each other. This is called the “Fellowship Offering”. It consists of two parts. First, after the sacrifice is killed, all the fatty parts (considered the best parts) are put on the altar and burned up as a tribute to God (as with the Burnt Offering). Then, the rest of the meat is put on a grill (not the altar) and cooked. When it is ready, it is shared between the offeror, the priests, and anyone else that is nearby. It is a BBQ meant to unite believers is “fellowship”.
If the first offering corresponds to our connection with Jesus, and the second offering corresponds to our connection with God, the Father, then this offering should correspond to our connection with the Holy Spirit. This would suggest that the work of the Holy Spirit should lead us fellowship with God and with His people. This is shown in 1 John 1:7 - But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sins.
We will talk about this break down later, but I want to focus on the idea of walking in the light. When we have passes through the first sacrifice and been transformed into creatures of light, we will WALK with God.
The concept of walking with God has been through the Bible. The most striking example is Enoch (Gen. 5:24) Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took Him.
Noah walked with God. Abraham walked with God. Moses walked with God. And so did many other people through the pages of scripture. But what does it mean to “Walk” with God.
Paul said: The Righteous man shall live by faith. (another translation says “walk by faith”- Rom. 1:17). Righteousness means to “live right”. In other words, if you want to live your best life you need to filter everything through the lens of faith. You have been washed by Jesus and now walk with God - this should color everything you do and everywhere you go. For example, you could ask yourself if the things you watch on TV would be something you would watch if Jesus was sitting in the room with you - or you could say: “What Would Jesus Do”.
Paul also said: For we live by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7).
This is not an easy path to walk because there are so many things that can distract us from being focused on God - that is why Jesus offered us this help (John 14:26): But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
The Holy Spirit wants to help you walk righteously.
This is discipleship.