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The Unveiling, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
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October 21, 2021 9:00 am

The Unveiling, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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October 21, 2021 9:00 am

As we walk through the book of Revelation, Pastor J.D. explains how God has pulled back the curtain to give us a glimpse of the spiritual reality.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. John and the church are about to go through a time of intense persecution and suffering. And brothers and sisters, when you go through an intense time of persecution, you don't need a sentimental Jesus who simply makes you feel warm at night.

You don't need a life coach who is offering you words of encouragement. You need to see Jesus as He really is, as a God who raised Him to death and who controls all things and holds Him in His hand. Welcome to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of pastor, author and theologian J.D.

Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. If you were to flip through the book of Revelation with no previous Bible knowledge, it would probably sound like a piece of science fiction or someone's crazy dream journal. It for sure would make quite a movie script, wouldn't you agree?

And all of the talk of dragons and beasts can be pretty confusing and quite frankly, scary. Well, today, Pastor J.D. is walking us through this book of prophecy, explaining how God has pulled back the curtain to give us a glimpse of the spiritual reality in the end times. He titled this message The Unveiling, and it's part of our series called The Whole Story.

Let's dive back in. Revelation chapter one, verse one. Here's how John the Apostle, same guy who wrote the Gospel of John, by the way, opens the book. The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him to show his servants the things that must soon take place. And here we encounter our first mystery. You see, revelation is a word that means unveiling, pulling back, pulling back the curtain to show something. And the question that we ask is, what is it that is being unveiled? What is the revelation of? You see, is it a revelation of Jesus Christ or is it a revelation by Jesus Christ of the things that must soon take place? Is it a revelation of Jesus or a revelation from Jesus? The answer is both. It is both a revelation of Jesus and a revelation from Jesus of the things that must soon take place.

Two things I want to focus on to that end. The first is the unveiling of our world. Jesus pulls back the curtain on the politics that are going on, and then we're going to go to the unveiling of Jesus himself. The unveiling of our world, that's in Revelation 17. So I want you to leave Revelation 1 and fly over to Revelation 17. Revelation chapter 17, the unveiling of our world. One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls.

The seven bowls are a series of judgments God is pouring out on the earth. One of them came to me and said, Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute who sits by many waters. With her, the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.

Then the angel carried me away in the spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand filled with abominable things in the filth of her adulteries.

The name written on her forehead was a mystery. Babylon the Great, the mother of all prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth. Verse six, that I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God's holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.

When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. This woman, this prostitute, represents all the enemies of God, all those who do not belong to Jesus. You notice verse two, that her customers are kings from every kingdom and their inhabitants all over the earth. We're not talking about one people or one culture. We're talking about all cultures and all people. Hers is a universal kingdom. You see, there's essentially only two kingdoms in the world. There is hers and there is Jesus's kingdom and you belong either to one or the other.

A few things that you'll notice about her if you're taking notes, you may want to jot down. First, she's a prostitute. It's because sin at its core, listen to this, is spiritual adultery. At its core, sin is not bad deeds.

Sin at its core is giving to something else what you should give to God. Second, she's called Babylon. Babylon is the name of a city with a long history in the Bible and it symbolizes man's rebellion against God.

The essence of the spirit of Babylon is, I will do what I want to do rather than what God wants me to do. I'll be the point. I'll accomplish it. I'll do it in my strength.

I'll be the sinner. Third, she's really attractive. She entices people from all over the world.

Even John himself, verse six, is awestruck by her. Living with her, verse two, is intoxicating for a while. Listen, y'all, sin is enjoyable. Sin is fun for a season.

It just ends in a place that you don't want to be. Fourth, and this one may come as a surprise to you, she is super religious. One of her companions, you'll find out, is the false prophet. It wasn't in the verses we read.

It's later. False religion. False religion engages in a lot of activity for God. But listen, it does so without ever putting God back into the central place He belongs in our hearts. Fifth, she has successfully seduced a lot of God's people. Here's how I know this. Go to the next chapter, chapter 18, verse four.

Here you have this warning. Then I heard another voice from heaven say, come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues. It is possible to be one of God's people and still be swept up in her enchantments.

In fact, I would say it is more than just possible. I would say it is what is happening to the majority of us who's the center of your life. Here's number six, she hates Jesus, this prostitute. Verse nine, the beast she's sitting on is described as having seven heads, which John says symbolizes seven mountains and seven kings.

Now, scholars say this could refer to either seven Roman emperors or seven empires that have come and gone or are to come before Jesus comes back. And what they have in common is that they're all drunk with the blood of God's people because this woman has always hated Jesus and His people. Listen, Summit Church, you need to get your mind around this. In every generation, true followers of Jesus have been hated and will be hated by the predominant world system under the control of this prostitute.

Don't be surprised when they misrepresent your intelligence, when they construe your convictions, when they malign your motives. The prostitute's hatred of us is a hatred of Jesus. Here's number seven, last one, she is destroyed. She is destroyed. This is, again, in chapter 18.

Let me just read you what the text says, chapter 18, verse six. Pay her back the way she also paid others and double it according to her works. In the cup in which she mixed, mix a double portion of wrath for her as much as she glorified herself and lived luxuriously. Give her that much torment and grief because she says in her heart, I'm a queen and I will never see grief. For this reason, her plagues will come and one day, death and grief and famine, she will be burned up with fire because the Lord who judges her is mighty. You see, Revelation shows you there are two rival kingdoms with two rival kings.

The kingdoms are called Babylon and Zion or Jerusalem. There are two rival kings and one king is you and the other king is Jesus and both those kings can't win in the end and at the end, when it's all said and done and the veil is pulled back, Jesus is the one who reigns and those who stood with Jesus will stand eternally in heaven with him and those who stood against Jesus in life will perish forever apart from him in eternal death. John says this is the curtain pulled back on the world. That's what it looks like.

That's what's going on and that's the end of it. We've seen the world unveil. Let's look at Jesus unveiled. Go back to chapter 1, Revelation chapter 1. Start in verse 10.

Verse 10, I was in the spirit, John said, on the Lord's day and I heard behind me a voice, a loud voice like a trumpet. Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands and in the midst of the lampstands, one like a son of man, in other words, he looked like a human being, clothed with a long robe and a golden sash around his chest. That is, by the way, the garments that the high priest would wear.

So you've got a man who is the Jewish high priest. Verse 14, the hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, which is just an image of saying judgment. It's like he's got the ultimate work boot on, refined in a furnace and his voice was like the roar of many waters and in his right hand he held seven stars.

We're going to find out those seven stars represent the seven churches, representing all churches that Jesus was holding there in his hand. Verse 16, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword. The tongue that had once spoke healing and given sight to the blind and raised the dead and multiplied the loaves of the fish is now coming out like a sharp two-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in full strength.

John says, I couldn't even look at it because it was going to burn my eyes out. Verse 17, when I saw him, I fell at his feet as though I were dead. Now I want you to keep in mind, Jesus had been John's BFF on earth. This is the first time they are seeing each other in almost 60 years. What would you expect that reunion to be like?

If you had seen a beloved friend, your best friend in 60 years, who had saved you, by the way, what do you think is going to happen? John falls at Jesus' feet as though he were dead. That's not even a figure of speech. He literally thought he was going to die. People have this image of Jesus as a sad, jobless guy with tears in his eyes who wandered around in a robe giving platitudes and talking a lot about his feelings.

Well, first, that's not true anywhere. But in Revelation, you see an entirely different picture of Jesus altogether. He's not a man of sorrows with tears in his eyes. In fact, I hope this is not irreverent, but he sounds like a guy you'd ever want to meet in a back alley. He's got on steel-toed shoes and crazy hair and a stank eye and a white shirt.

He's looking for a fight. And that's the image that you're getting of Jesus here. Now, is this a different Jesus than the one John knew?

No, of course not. See, truth be told, Jesus had always had this kind of power. But throughout his ministry on earth, it had been veiled.

But now, Revelation 1, it is unveiled and it appears in all of its strength. So the question is, why is Jesus appearing this way to John now? Why not reappear to John as John knew him on earth? Because see, John and the church are about to go through a time of intense persecution and suffering. And brothers and sisters, when you go through an intense time of persecution, you don't need a sentimental Jesus who simply makes you feel warm at night.

You don't need a life coach who is offering you words of encouragement. You need to see Jesus as he really is, as a God who raised him to death and who controls all things and holds him in his hand. See, watch what happens next.

Watch what happens next. Verse 17, But he laid his right hand on me, saying, Fear not. Fear not, John. I'm the first and I'm the last. In other words, John, I am absolutely and totally in control.

I'm the first and the last. It means I was there when it started and I'll be the last one standing. And that also means I'm everything in the middle. In the meantime, I'm guiding everything. If I'm A and I'm Z, I'm also B through Y, guiding it all to my appointed ends.

This fall, I memorized the first chapter of Ephesians with some friends of mine. And one of the phrases that just got stuck in my mind that keeps reappearing in various times, I can't get it out of my mind, it's a statement Paul makes in Ephesians 1-11. We've been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will. Jesus has a purpose. His purpose on earth, he's made pretty clear.

He's building the church and using the church to spread the gospel throughout the earth. The purpose of him who works, not most things, not things in the church, all things according to the counsel of his will, which means there is not one stray molecule in all the universe. There is not one stray cancer cell. There is not one stray spouse.

There is not one stray child. There is nothing that is outside of the one who is the first and the last. This week I read it again in my time with God in Matthew, a way that Jesus says the exact same thing. He said, are not two sparrows sold for a cent? They're insignificant to everybody and yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your father. The very hairs of your head are all numbered.

You can't get more micro than that. The hairs of your head, the birds in the sky that nobody pays any attention to. If a bird falls to the ground outside in the woods, anybody hear it? I don't know. But God knows it and he's somehow a part of it. Now what I'm not saying, let me be very clear on this. What I'm not saying is that God is the one making anything happen to you.

We live in a fallen world and the result is a lot of people do a lot of terrible things to each other. What I am saying is that Jesus promises that none of those things are out of his control. And he promises to use every single one of them as a part of his perfect purposes in your life to glorify his name and to extend salvation through you. And I know you can't see it all right now. Many of his purposes for what he does remain hidden until eternity until suddenly it's unveiled.

And then you see that not one molecule was out of place and he accomplished everything he had set himself to. I've compared it before to a tapestry. You know a tapestry where you see one of these rugs that's got this exquisite beautiful design on one side.

Nothing is out of place. But then you look on the backside of that tapestry and it looks, all the threads look like a chaotic jumbled mess. I've told you that life for us right now often feels like the backside of that tapestry. And it feels like things are out of control and why is this disease going over here? Why is this happening over here? What happens in the book of Revelation is Jesus takes that tapestry and he flips it on the other side and said not one thing was out of place.

There was not one stray thing that was happening. I was using it all for the purposes I had for the church and for your life. So Jesus goes on, I'm the living one. I died. I died for you John by crucifixion and bold.

I'm alive forevermore. Now I've got the keys of death and Hades which is of course another word for hell. John, not only am I immensely powerful, I died for you so that you would never have to face death. And I'm now using my greatest power, my greatest power, the keys of death and Hades. I am using them to perfect my purposes in you. I've got the keys to everything that could ever threaten you.

Death and Hades and I've got the keys to Caesar's kingdom. John, what are you afraid of? John, you really feel like Caesar's winning? John, you really feel like I can't control cancer? John, do you think that I don't know you need a job?

Are you really worried about your marriage? John, look at me. Look at me. Look at my power. Look at my control.

Look at my love. John, why do you doubt? That powerful hand sitting on John's shoulder, that hand which calms storms, that hand that creates matter out of nothing is nail scarred for John's sin and is the proof that every single thing that Jesus is doing in the world is not out of Jesus' control and that he is pursuing his purpose that he has set forth from the foundation of the world and not one of his plans for you or your family will ever fail. So see, I've got two points I think we should end with.

Here's point number one. Do you need to see Jesus this way this weekend? When you go through a time of suffering or persecution, whether it's caused by the beast of revelation or the mockery of your friends or a professor, when you go through a time with a lost job, what you need to see is this vision of Jesus.

John opens up the book of Revelation and says, there he is, there he is standing at the end of history, the first and the last, the defeater of death, the one with all these things in his hand and he wins. I see it. I think I've told you before about the time that I binge watched like three seasons of 24. I'm a late adopter on pretty much everything. I know some of you might find that hard to believe, but I really am.

And so enough people talk about it. I'm like, I got to watch this show. And so my wife and I, I think we bought a season and borrowed a season from a friend. And I think we watched three seasons in 72 hours.

I'm not sure that's even physically possible, but I think we pulled it off. And I remember in one of those seasons, you know, it looks really bad for Jack. Remember this? I mean, I think in one of them, he died.

Am I right about that? And the season ended and I was like, I think he died. I think he died. And then I looked down because I got like season three or four on the floor. And the next season I pick it up and I'm like, and there's, you know, Jack on the cover, you know?

And I'm like, something's not adding up here because it looks like he died. Yet his face is on the next cover and he's going to star for the next several seasons. In fact, he's going to stick around long enough. He's going to get a new show and this time he's going to be the president. Things turn out well for Jack Bauer because we see where it's all headed. What the book of Revelation is, is John essentially saying his face is still at the last.

It's on the cover. I see him standing. I see that he's the first and the last, which means he's got everything in the middle.

I see that there's not one stray molecule. I see that even in this dark dank cave on the middle of the isle of Patmos, that the sovereign Lord Jesus is in control and that he rules history, not Caesar. And that there is nothing that is, he is purpose that is not going to fail. And y'all, that is true in John's day. It is true in our day. It'll be true tomorrow. It'll be true when the four horsemen come or whenever that is. It's going to be true on the day that you get a diagnosis of cancer. It's going to be true on the day that you lose your job.

It's going to be true on the day that your spouse walks out on you. There is not a single day in all of history that Jesus Christ is not Lord over. And if you pull back the veil and you look to the end, you'll see he's always been sovereign over it. And maybe that's what you need to see this week is you need to see Jesus like this. He's not a Jesus who just comes and runs and helps you in the middle of a jam.

He is a Jesus who is sovereign over it all, who is prophesied and perfected things in you and not one thing that he does, not a hair out of your head will fall without his permission because it's all according to his plan. Here's the second thing that I take away from this. Do you see what this shows you about what we should be about? Do you see what this shows us about what we should be about?

Here's what I mean. If this is what Jesus is doing on earth, if he's got these seven stars in his hand, if that shows that what you put in your right hand is what you're doing at the moment. If the seven stars representing the seven churches, which represent all churches, are in his hand and that's his focus, shouldn't that be what we are about also? I know not all of you are called to work in the church like I am. But if Jesus shed his blood for the church and what's in his right hand right now is the church, it ought to be the center of your life.

It means you should not be a spectator that shows up on the weekend for a religious pep talk. You ought to be involved in the community and you ought to be pursuing the mission of the church. If Jesus put his blood into it, you should put your life into it.

Do you understand? You ought to make this the center. You ought to make this the center of your life. And the church's one commission is spreading the gospel, which means that is what you should be giving the primary place of your life to. You're not all called the ministry, but you're all called to see the gospel spread to the farthest corners of the earth.

And there are still so many people who have never heard. The point of the book of Revelation is not to give you details for idle speculation about the nature of the second coming. The point is to motivate you to give your life to make sure everybody knows about his first coming. Because seeing his first coming, he came bringing salvation. The second time he comes, he's bringing judgment. And not everybody knows about the first coming, which means they're not ready for the second coming. The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.

Which means that if I understand this, I'm going to say you're sovereign. I know what you're doing. So I'm going to give my life, I'm going to give my time, my treasures, my talent, because I know what you're up to. John says he's coming back soon. Every eye is going to see him. These are the things, verse one, that are going to shortly take place. The time is near. Behold, verse seven, he is coming. Now church, live accordingly. That's seeing behind the veil, and that's what God wants you to be up to. Why don't you bow your heads at all of our campuses if you would.

Can we just think through those questions? Do you need to see Jesus this way this weekend? What hair has fallen out of your head? What sparrow has dropped out of your sky? Do you feel right now that you're in the isle of Patmos, forgotten, forsaken? Can you just see Jesus standing above it all, the first and the last?

Let me ask kind of a sub-question, as many of you think about that. There are some of you here right now that are walking in rebellion to Jesus, and you know it. You understand Jesus is not a convenient religious fixture you add to your life. He's the sovereign Lord of history, and you're going to look at him one day in the face.

John, his best friend, couldn't look at his face because it was shining like the sun in full strength. Revelation 6 says when people who are not Jesus' friends see that face, they're going to call out on the mountains to cover them, to hide them from that face. You're going to answer to him one day. Some of you just need to repent. You need to repent and say, Lord Jesus, I'm sorry because I've lived according to my way, not your way, and I surrender to you right now, and I receive you as my Savior. I accept the gift that you gave of dying for me on the cross so that I could be saved.

I receive it right now. Here's that last question. Have you made Jesus' agenda your agenda? Is sharing the gospel the most important part of your life? Evangelism, telling others about the good news of Jesus, must be a priority. There it is once again, the gospel at work in every page of our Bible. Pastor J.D. Greer challenges us to make reaching more people with the gospel an essential part of our life today on Summit Life.

That's not an easy task. We're going to need some help and some solid spiritual disciplines to live out our faith every single day. So, J.D., we've picked out a great resource to help us foster the discipline of reading the Bible. Can you tell us a little bit about it? So, full disclosure here, Molly, and you don't have to agree.

In fact, you can just sit there silently if that's less awkward. I think of all the message series I've ever done at the Summit Church, with maybe the exceptions of the series through Romans, I think this whole story was my personal favorite because just something about seeing the Ark of Scripture and seeing how from start to finish there is one story that's being told every single page of your Bible points to Jesus, that the point of the Bible is not giving you principles and precepts and stories and heroes to emulate. It's there to point you to a Savior to hope in and a God to worship and adore. This resource that we're providing, this Bible, a custom Bible, in partnership with a great Christian publisher called Crossway, is going to help you as you read the Bible to see that Ark. No, we didn't edit the words of Scripture. It's just the ESV version of the Bible, which I've used for many years. You can pick up where we are in the series at that very spot in the Bible and get some of the context around it. You can give it to somebody that you think might need encouragement in reading their Bible. You've heard me say this, Molly, but one of my favorite ways of seeing what I do is helping people read the Bible better. It's not what you get from me when you're listening. It's what you get when you're sitting there in your favorite chair with the light on.

That's where I feel like, man, if I could help somebody interact with God one on one, that would be a success in my book. It's got a blue leather cover. I think you'll love it.

Molly, it's got great curb appeal. Feels good in your hand. You can get a picture of it on our website at jdgrier.com. Anyway, yeah, we're excited about it. We'd love to get you a copy of this Summit Life Bible today. It comes with our thanks when you donate to support this program.

Summit Life is kept on the radio and online by listeners like you. So when you tune in, you've got another listener to thank for this message. And you can extend that gift to someone else by doing your part to keep this program going. Give today and remember to ask for your custom blue leather Bible. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or you can donate and request the Bible online at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Bidevich inviting you to join us again tomorrow as we look at the biblical picture of heaven.

We're discovering that it's so much better than harps and clouds. We'll see you again Friday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-04 20:30:00 / 2023-08-04 20:41:40 / 12

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