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Duty, Honor, Country

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
September 22, 2023 12:00 am

Duty, Honor, Country

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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September 22, 2023 12:00 am

Listen to or read the full-length version of this message here: https://www.wisdomonline.org/teachings/revelation-lesson-69.  According to the Apostle John, it isn't enough to simply believe that Jesus is coming again . . . we must live as though He is already on His way.

 

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Oftentimes, the last words are the most important words. John will challenge us by the inspiring work of the Holy Spirit. He will remind us.

He will warn us. He will deepen us with powerful, God-breathed words. Keep in mind, by the way, as we get into the epilogue, that these are also the closing words of God's inspired record of revelation. These are, in a unique way, the last words of God, for now. Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart with Steven Davey.

Steven is the president of Wisdom International. This daily program is based on his 36 years of Bible teaching. Today, we're beginning a series through the epilogue of the book of Revelation.

This section is very important. John writes that, blessed is he who keeps the sayings and prophecy of this book. It's not enough to simply believe that Jesus is coming again. You must live as though he's already on his way.

You'll be challenged from God's Word today. Here's Steven with a message called Duty, Honor, Country. One of my favorite speeches was delivered by Douglas MacArthur at West Point in what would become his final address. MacArthur had begun his military career of nearly 50 years as a student at West Point in 1899.

He rose in rank until he became the supreme commander of the allied forces throughout World War II. Just two years before he would die, at the age of 82, he was invited back to West Point where he addressed the academy with a stirring challenge built around three words, duty, honor, and country. Let me pull a paragraph out from his speech by quote. These three words will teach us not to substitute words for action, to learn to stand up in the storm but to have compassion on those who fall, to master yourself before you seek to master others, to have a heart that is clean and a goal that is high, to learn to laugh yet never forget how to weep, to reach into the future yet never neglect the past, to be serious yet never take yourself too seriously.

These words teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman. His speech was even more profound of course given the fact that they were coming from the lips of an old veteran, an old soldier, a man with little time left to live. For quite some time now we have been listening to another soldier of another sort, the Apostle John, a man in his early 90s with just a few years left to live. By the way, the difference between the speeches of statesmen and heroes like I've just briefly mentioned and John the Apostle's message is that John's message is not only inspiring, it is inspired. Now as John begins to wrap up his inspired record in chapter 22 of the book of Revelation, verses 6 through 21 through the end of the chapter form an epilogue. These are the closing thoughts, his final words where John will challenge us by the inspiring work of the Holy Spirit. He will remind us, he will warn us, he will deepen us with powerful God-breathed words. Keep in mind by the way as we get into the epilogue that these are also the closing words of God's inspired record of Revelation. These are in a unique way the last words of God. For now we shall one day hear him and see him as he speaks to us face to face. If you have your Bibles not already open, go ahead and open them to chapter 22 and you'll notice right away, in fact let me sort of set this up for us as we get into this epilogue beginning at verse 6 through verse 21, that all that John has seen and all that John has heard and recorded then for us in this record of Scripture is intended to produce certain responses. And I'm going to pull three of them out that struck me as I went through this paragraph.

The first word that strikes me is the word anticipation. Notice as the epilogue begins in verse 6, and he said to me, these words are faithful and true. This is the angel speaking to him. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show to his bondservants the things which must soon take place. In other words, John, you are not seeing things. You're not making stuff up.

You're not hearing things that don't exist. He is an eyewitness just as God's spirit controlled the spirits of the prophets to deliver his inspired word in the past. John, you have been under the management of the Holy Spirit to deliver the words of God about the future.

The apostle Peter put it this way in 2 Peter 1 21, no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. Now John has a little edge over Peter in this process of inspiration. He's an eyewitness to this account of panoramic drama. In fact, he looked down at verse 8 where he says, I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. I heard it with my own ears. I saw it with my own eyes.

I'm not making this up. The timeless creator pulled back the curtain of time and took John into the future where he could hear and see the drama of prophetic history unfolding. John has literally come back from the future.

And he records what he heard and saw. And what have we learned from John's revelation? We've learned a lot, haven't we? The first few chapters of his revelation revealed Christ's challenge to the church. This present age, this dispensation we call the age of the church. Seven letters to seven churches that not only span the course of church history that we're still living in but define the potential of every local assembly in every generation. Then we watched as the scene shifted dramatically from the church on earth to the church in heaven, singing a new song to their redeemer.

Now how did the church go from earth to heaven? Paul filled in the gaps in answering that question when he wrote out in detail to the Thessalonian believers about this taking away, this rapturing away of the church suddenly and without warning whisked away to be with Christ just prior to what Jesus Christ earlier described in his sermon in Matthew 24 would take place, that being the tribulation. And so in that exact chronology, John's revelation now will shift back again from viewing the church in heaven to viewing this time called the tribulation as it unfolds on planet earth. Was John the first one to prophesy of these things?

Not on your life, he's the last one. Amos prophesied earlier of the wrath of God and a coming Gentile world power. Isaiah prophesied of cosmic disturbances and Israel's conversion. Zachariah prophesied of the salvation of Gentiles and the appearance of Christ. Daniel prophesied of the length of these times of trouble, the coming of the antichrist as Satan's prince, the desecration of a newly built temple and the appearance, the descent of the Son of Man, the true and genuine Messiah.

Now John is the last. He speaks of the second coming of Christ. We descend with him to establish this glorious golden age, the millennial kingdom a thousand years long and those who came to faith during the tribulation surviving the tribulation become the population of mortals on earth that we the redeemed, the ones who descend with Christ, the glorified immortals reign over as the earth is healed and populated over the course of a thousand years as Christ sits on the throne of David as he prophesied and as the prophets before him said he would. Then at the end of the millennial kingdom, John delivers to us the shocking news that in the face of his benevolent rule, in the face of all the glory and success and health, in fact we can't find a verse that says a mortal ever dies. They live for hundreds of years in the face of all of that where the earth reverts back in some ways to the Garden of Eden where the lion lays down with a lamb. Satan is still at the end of a thousand years capable of raising an army numbering as the sands of the sea who decide that they will together march against Jerusalem and unseat the king.

Can you believe it? And with one word they're destroyed. Satan is incarcerated forever in hell. And then the great white throne judgment begins where all of the unbelieving world stands before God is judged and sentenced.

And then chapter 21 began. John described the father's house. What a house, rising from miles into the sky and miles in each direction. The father's house of gold becomes the capitol building for the new heaven and earth. This eternal state we refer to as heaven. Heaven is introduced. The father's house is set on gemstones.

You remember the size of freight cars. It's gates made of single pearls the size of stadiums. From his throne flows this river.

He's continually creating the river which speaks of eternal life and on either side of the river are orchards of trees that bear fruit every month. Eternity has begun. And that's where we left it. That's almost three years in review.

We did it. And now we're here at the epilogue of Revelation. The last words of Revelation. You might come though to the end of just that review and say that is science fiction.

That is not going to happen. That's an exaggerated pastor with a few verses. Frankly, it's too bad to be true for those who don't believe and it's too good to be true for those who do believe. And you know what they say about things that are too good to be true? They are what? Too good to be true.

They're not true. Well, the angel commissioned to be John's companion guide anticipates that, perhaps not so much from John because he saw it and heard it, but from us who've read it. And so the first thing he says in this epilogue is verse 6, look again, he said to me, these words are faithful and true. It's going to come true. It's going to happen literally. It will take place. The God who directed the prophets before you, John, telling us of things past and present and future, he has been directing you as well to tell us of things. Yet future, you're going to come to pass. You can anticipate everything you've seen and everything you've heard literally taking place. What anticipation. I can tell you, friends, that I personally have come to look for the rapture as never before.

Because of what I've learned and because of what will be established, I kind of enjoy listening to the news now. I mean, it's heating up in the Middle East and I'm saying, bring it on. The trumpet cannot, you know, that sound can't be far away. And I know he could have come back for the church a thousand years ago. He could come a thousand years from now. But when you read the news and you think about the anticipation, you think of the writer of Scripture who said that, you know, the day is drawing near. Well, if he thought it was drawing near 1900 years ago, it's really near now, right?

It must be just around the corner. And so we anticipate it. I can tell you this, I am anticipating the millennial kingdom like I've never anticipated it before, where millions of tribulation believers will be under our rule as co-regents with Christ as they populate the earth and flourish in a restored system of health and beauty and glory. I can't imagine that the commerce in a thousand years under a just king, the arts, I can't imagine education and the ministry of the gospel as it's developed because those who are born into the kingdom must hear the gospel and believe as well if they ever hope to enter the eternal state of heaven. I'm looking forward to the millennial kingdom. You know, one of the things I'm looking forward to in that millennial kingdom is for the first time in your life and mine, we are going to be able to serve Christ as co-regents during that thousand year period in assignments that he delivers to us. But we're going to be able, and here's the exciting part, we're going to be able to serve him with sinlessness.

Our old flesh is done away. In our glorified immortal state we're going to be able to serve him with balance and wisdom and undiluted joy. That's something to anticipate and every one of us as we serve Christ are going to hear him say words that we all want to hear him say. We will hear them perhaps many times over well done, thou good and faithful servant. That's just the beginning.

But anticipation is not enough. There must be another response to all that we have learned from John's Eyewitness account. The second word would be application.

There must be application. Look at verse seven. Behold, look, I am coming quickly. Now that word quickly means that everything related to the coming of Christ, including all that John has revealed to us, church age, the rapture, the tribulation, the second coming, the millennial kingdom, the great white throne, all of that is going to happen quickly. When you look at it from the perspective of eternity it's like that. Now notice what John writes in light of that truth.

He's coming. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book. Blessed are those, happy are those, fulfilled are those who heed. That word heed could be expanded in your translation to render it this way. Blessed are those who take it to heart, who take it to heart.

Live in light of what you've learned. Ladies and gentlemen, God did not give us the prophecies of end times so that we would be smarter, but so that we would be more surrendered. John wrote in one of his earlier letters this way, 1 John 3, 2 and 3, when he appears we shall be like him because we shall see him just as he is. We know that phrase.

We often don't continue on. And everyone who has this hope fixed on him purifies himself. The truth of prophecy is not to just give us the ability to draw out a timeline and defend it, come up with a chart with some pictures, but for us to develop character and pursue the blessing and pleasure of Jesus Christ. This is the consistent encouragement of scripture. When it talks in prophetic terms, like Paul as he talked about the rapture of the church and the resurrection of those who have already gone, the bodies of those believers that will be reunited with their spirits. 1 Corinthians chapter 15, he exhorts the believer in light of that coming day to remain steadfast and movable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. By the way, know that as you work, rest assured that all of your toil, all of your labor, all of your hard work will never be in vain when he comes. Paul also wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians that he really preferred to be at home with the Lord.

He preferred to be with him. But as a result of anticipating that preferred home with the Lord, Paul goes on to say, therefore, in light of that future home, it is my ambition to be pleasing to him. In other words, we not only anticipate our future with Jesus Christ, we live now in light of it.

It matters now. It isn't just stuff we learn. It should change the way we live and our perspective in life.

Anticipation should lead to application. What happens to us later clarifies and motivates how we live now. Even our gathering today, even our gathering as an assembly is given to us in the context of prophecy. The writer of Hebrews put it to the church, the local church this way, don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together. That is every pastor's favorite verse.

How many times have you been beaten over the head with that one? Well, why? Because we need job security with people showing up. No, the writer of Hebrews isn't finished. He says this, don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together so that you can provoke one another unto love and good works and all the more as you see the day drawing near. That's why we gather together today to glorify our Lord and worship him, but we learn and we anticipate even more than we learn what to apply and we're encouraged and refreshed and fed because we're looking forward to the day and this week we're one week closer to the day. When we see him, the day is drawing near. The writer of Hebrews thought it was drawing near and that was 1900 years ago.

Imagine how near it is today. So John the Apostle, this old soldier of the cross, wants us to be anticipating all of this and applying our lives in light of all of this. There is anticipation.

There is application. Thirdly, there is adoration. John is so overwhelmed he falls at the feet of this angel. The second time he's done this, look at verse 8. I John am the one who heard and saw these things and when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things.

But he said to me, do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.

Now, it's an interesting thing to consider exactly what he's doing. This angel has just collected in one assembly all of the Old Testament prophets on all that believe their words, the believers, the hosts of heaven represented by this angel and the New Testament saints who heed the words of this prophecy. He's brought us all together and he delivers this timeless command and this privilege that comes echoing from the lips of this angel to all of us who believe of all time, worship God.

Isn't that the ultimate statement after all you've learned? Worship God. Anticipation leads to application which should always be surrounded with leading toward and out of worship adoration. There's only one worthy of worship.

What's happening here with John though? Confused me until I began to dig into the meaning of these words and found the word worship here is that word proscuneo. Interesting word, pros or pro meaning toward. Cuneo, an interesting word which has an interesting history. Etymologists have shown us that cuneo is related to what they call the high Germanic root kus. Transliterated, it gives us the word kiss. Proscuneo historically meant to kiss toward. As an act of veneration and adoration, it was kissing toward the one you venerated or adored. It actually came out of the Persians and then into the Greek world where they developed the physical practice of actually blowing kisses, kissing toward.

And so when they'd walk by the shrine of their favorite god or they walked by the little idol in their house, they would blow a kiss, blow a kiss, venerating either their idol, their god or their temple. It developed this word into simply bowing or paying homage to a superior. It could even be translated to tremble. The ancient Greeks talked of trembling in the presence of a king or a sovereign. It developed further in the western world to that bowing and perhaps you've seen it in an old movie and they're actually trying to illustrate what this word came to mean as they bowed they would do this with their hand.

And you always thought that really looked strange. What they're doing is blowing multiple kisses to the one they're venerating. Came to basically just simply mean paying homage.

This is what King Nebuchadnezzar did to Daniel when Daniel gave to the king the meaning of the vision. He paid homage to him. So what John is doing is paying homage to this angel. He is communicating that he believes the angel is superior to him. He isn't worshiping the angel because after all of this John decides to become an idolater. And I think I'll worship this angel. Now after all he's seen with this angelic guide, after all he's heard and all that's been explained to him by the angel, John assumes the angel is superior to him. And so he pays him homage. That explains the context of the angel's response. Look again at verse 9. The angel says don't do that.

Why? I am a what? Fellow servant of yours. In other words I'm not your superior. You don't have to pay homage to me as if I'm higher than you or better than you. Then he effectively says all of us, Old Testament, New Testament, the hosts of heaven, there is no one greater, no one higher, no one to whom we pay homage than to our unique superior to God alone. So give him homage. Blow kisses to God alone.

I think that's an interesting perspective don't you? Every time you speak highly of God you blow a kiss to him. Every time you obey his word you effectively blow a kiss to him. Every time you thank him for something you blow a kiss to him. Every time you praise him you blow a kiss to him. I think we ought to go through our day with the concept of have I blown any kisses to God lately if I paid him homage to his singular superiority in our lives.

So as John begins his epilogue he makes it clear that all he has seen and all he's learned and all that he's transferred to us by the inspired text should produce at least three results in us. A growing anticipation of delight in that coming day. A commitment to application in light of that coming day. A daily adoration for the one who is capable of bringing to us this day and the glories of this day who can deliver this day just as he promised. Can we help but love him? Can we help but live for him knowing we will one day live with him? So anticipate the day. Live in light of it.

Prascuneo off him. Blow him kisses as it were. Thank him. Praise him for this eternal state that's yet to come. For this glory and what incredible glory it will be. And it's ours because the grace of God has delivered to us the truth and the Spirit of God has opened our eyes to the truth of this glorious sovereign to whom alone belongs worship. And so friends let's live with the constant and continual sense of expectation as we await the coming day of the Lord. Today's lesson is the first of four in a series called The Last Words. If you joined us late you can go to our website or our smartphone app and listen to the message in its entirety. Our website is wisdomonline.org and you'll find the free Wisdom International app in the app store for your phone. I'm glad you joined us today. Please be sure and join us next time for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-29 05:38:01 / 2023-10-29 05:47:48 / 10

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