Monday, September 26, 2011
Dad had planned to do something special for mom at a park not far from our house, on their way for their weekend away. Jonathon and I got up bright and early to prepare food and load up the van with decorations and special touches. I've included some pictures here, but if you want to see the full details and lots more pictures, see the post over at CLB CeLeBrations.
Monday, September 19, 2011
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea."
In thinking about this portion of Scripture, it led me to some other passages that refer to heaven and earth and the end times. Come along with me as I search the Scriptures for how God ties it all together.
Let's start in Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament. You'll find it interesting how the last book of the Old Testament correlates with the last book of the New Testament, Revelation. Malachi 4 says:
"For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,: says the Lord of hosts, "so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing," says the Lord of hosts. "Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with curse."
Interesting to me that He instructs us to "remember the law of Moses His servant, even the statutes and ordinances". And He doesn't just say this in the Old Testament. He mentions it again in John 5: 46 & 47, "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" Jesus takes it a step further here though and says that if we can't believe what Moses said is true, then how will we believe what Jesus Himself said is true? Moses spoke nothing different than what Jesus spoke. Sad how so many people throw out what Moses said to be of nothing we need to listen to and remember. Jesus said we should! But He also said that it isn't the Scripture itself that will save us. The Pharisees thought that just knowing the Scriptures would save them, but if they weren't willing to see Jesus in the Scripture and come to Him, then they wouldn't have life everlasting (John 5:39 & 40).
Matt. 5: 17-19 also speaks of us not forgetting the Law. "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Let's start with the word "fulfill". Some people say that it means to do away with. It's true meaning in this passage is "to fully preach". I believe Jesus did this while He was here on earth. It doesn't mean that He came so that we could do away with it and don't have to obey the Law anymore. That doesn't make any sense with what the rest of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments say, especially since He says He didn't come to abolish (or destroy) the Law. I don't know how people so misinterpret this portion. And we've already read that heaven and earth are only going to be passed away when the end times are here, and we are in His kingdom. This passage then finishes up with saying who will be called least and greatest in the kingdom. I pray that if you are one who considers the Law to be of no affect since Jesus came to die for our sins, please reconsider. What do you think this portion is saying if it's not what I just summarized here?
In studying about heaven and earth and mostly the new heaven and new earth, I came across 2 Peter 3:10-18, which says, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprinicpled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen."
What another amazing portion that starts out talking about heaven and earth passing away and the warning of staying true to what the Scriptures say(rememeber these were the Old Testament- the Torah, as this is all they had at that time, they didn't have the New Testament). A warning that some distort the Scriptures and it brings them to their own destruction. He encourages to stay steadfast and grow in grace and knowledge. Now some think that grace came as a replacement of the Law. Not so. The definition of grace is: A divine influence upon the heart, with a reflection in the life. The divine influence is the Spirit of God. He speaks to our heart all that the Scriptures (remembering that it's the Old Testament) contain. The reflection in our life should be an act of obedience to what He has commanded us to do, both in the Old Testament and New since none of it contradicts itself. That is true grace. It doesn't give us a license to do what we want, picking and choosing only what is convenient for us to obey. Yeah, the 10 commandments are givens of what we need to obey, but if those are relevant for us, then why aren't the rest of His statutes and commands? It's not a buffet to choose what satisfies our souls from one day to the next. This will lead to destruction.
Now let's go back to Revelation. All who believe in God know that this book is some day going to come to pass. But let's not ignore the very end of it. Revelation 22:18-21 says:
" I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. He who testifies to these things say, "Yes, I am coming quickly," Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen."
Now I know that John wrote this and is talking about Revelation as the prophecy of this book. But when he mentions that nothing should be added or taken away from this book, he is taking that straight out of Deuteronomy 12:32 when God Himself, speaking of what He commanded us to do, says that we should not add to it or take away from it. I was guilty of taking away from it for so long, thinking that the Law was done away with. This is taking away from His Scriptures and what God said. Be careful! Now the ending of Revelation is just perfect (aren't the Scriptures as a whole though?). "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen". It is only with His grace that we can walk according to His Word, not adding to it or taking away from it, so that we too can have a part in the tree of life.
I just love the revelation that He has been bringing to my mind the last couple weeks. The fall feasts are approaching, and I know that He is preparing my heart to rejoice and celebrate during the Feast of Tabernacles which is the next one coming in October. My heart is full and overflowing with His Word that comes to my mind daily. I have so much more to read and learn, but as long as I keep pressing on, growing in grace (a divine influence upon my heart, with a reflection in my life), then I'll be getting one step closer every day. Blessings as your hearts are being prepared for the fall feasts. What an honor to serve Him and praise Him during His feasts. I am so thankful we honor His times and not the worlds! We live for Him, not ourselves!