Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31- The Sun of Righteousness

December 31, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Malachi 3:1-4:6; Revelation 22:1-21;
Psalm 150:1-6; Proverbs 31:25-31

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come."  ~Revelation 22:17

Malachi 3:1-4:6

You've done it!  I challenged you to join me this year to read through the entire Bible celebrating and commemorating my Year of Jubilee.  God does not disappoint. I have never read God's Word without changing in some way. As I read, He draws near. He speaks clearly. He reveals Himself to me. I hope that has been your experience as you have read God's Word with me.  Please pat yourself on the back and give yourself a big ole hug for this amazing accomplishment. I told you that I was hungry enough to dip into the cookie jar and take what was given to the kiddies on the lower shelf.  The lessons were sweet and I thank God that He met me where I could understand His plan for my life and His plan for all of eternity. Now, why don't you pour that last glass of milk and grab the final cookie of God's sweetness as we complete our journey together.

Prediction of John the Baptist

Malachi's name means "my messenger."  Malachi is faithful to point out messengers of God's truth in his prophetic book. Yesterday, we read that the tribe of Levi was appointed to be priests of God to preserve the Law and point the way to the Messiah through daily sacrifices and rituals. Today, God tells the world about the messenger who will prepare the world for the coming Messiah.

John the Baptist is the messenger who will prepare the way for Christ's first coming. Malachi then predicts that the Lord will suddenly come to the Temple in Jerusalem and will be the messenger of the covenant that was promised to Abraham and David so many years before.

Qualities of This Final Messenger of the Covenant

What will the Messiah be like in his role of fulfilling this promise?  Here are some things predicted by Malachi:
  • He will be a blazing fire that purifies. This speaks of Christ's judgment. Vs. 2
  • He will refine the Levites to make them acceptable for service. This is during Christ's millennial reign on earth. Christ's death makes people acceptable to God. Vs. 3
  • He will accept offerings in Jerusalem once more under new conditions in the millennial reign. Vs. 4
  • He will test the population for sorcerers (drug users), adulterers, and liars.  Remember, the millennial kingdom is also a time of testing. Vs. 5
  • The Lord is consistent and does not change. Vs. 6
These promises refer to Christ and his earthly kingdom in the future. He will fulfill his promises to Israel and test and refine them further.

Now, Malachi reminds the Israelite remnant that God is aware that they are not tithing to Him. He is aware of their cheating hearts and hands.

God promises to have a scroll of remembrance for those who loved and feared Him.  We have seen this called the Lamb's Book of Life in the book of Revelation.  God promises that in the end the differences between the righteous and the wicked will be clearly seen in how they are judged.

The Day of Judgment and The Sun Of Righteousness

Malachi is given a promise that a day of judgment is coming. Arrogant people will be burned up like chaff. They will be consumed in the lake of fire (chapter 4:1).  For those who love God, the Sun of Righteousness will shine and rise with healing in his wings. People will leap like young calves in joy and carefree happiness. The wicked will be tread upon.

Once more, God promises before the Old Testament is complete to send Elijah to prepare the way for the Messiah. We know from our reading in Revelation that Elijah comes to earth as one of the two witnesses prior to Jesus' second coming in judgment at the Battle of Armageddon.  Jesus refers to John the Baptist as a type of  Elijah, but the nation of Israel does not accept her Messiah at Jesus' first coming. This prophecy of Malachi is fulfilled at Jesus' second coming and the final judgment of Christ.  Israel will turn to her Messiah at this time, although not all of them. Remember the concept of the remnant is true to the end.

Revelation 22:1-21

John is given a view of how the New Jerusalem sustains those who will live forever with God. Water is always the symbol of life and of God's Spirit.  We see a river flowing from God's throne down the center of the city. Trees of Life that bear life giving and healing fruit line this river. It is the fruit of the month club as the ever-bearing trees give a fresh crop each month. We see a picture of being sustained eternally without the sweat of the brow brought on by Adam's rebellion in the Garden. Adam and Eve were banned from eating from the Tree of Life, but now God's children will eat freely from the Tree of Life, which keeps them alive forever. Christ, of course, is our Tree of Life, the root of Jesse, the Branch, and the Vine! Paradise is restored and God communes with mankind in intimacy. There is a happy ending.

There is no curse in this new universe. There is no need for the sun as God is Light and His energy sustains all things.  Those who have loved the Lord without seeing Him will now know His face intimately. They will be identified with their Creator. They are given authority to reign.  This implies order, government, and activity. If you have been under the notion that you would be spending eternity holding a harp, sitting on a cloud, and singing God's praises, this should dispel that thought. People will be busy with learning and ruling and exploring and knowing the most brilliant Being ever.

John is overwhelmed at these revelations.  He falls down to worship the angel who revealed these truths to him. He is told to not worship a fellow servant of God. Worship God! What a wise messenger this angel is!

What To Think About These Things

Here is a philosophy that we can adopt given straight from the mouth of an angel,
"Let the one who is doing wrong continue to do wrong; the one who is vile, continue to be vile; the one who is good, continue to be good; and the one who is holy, continue in holiness." (NLT) Revelation 22:10-11
Jesus promises to come soon (meaning that these are the next major spiritual events to occur in God's Story) and he brings his reward with him. Everyone is going to be paid according to their deeds. Remember that faith in Christ exempts people from being judged by their works. Believers in Christ will only be rewarded for their works done in the power of the Holy Spirit. This confirms what we learned yesterday.  Jesus declares that He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  Think back to Genesis, my friends.  This book is about our central character, Jesus Christ.  It is all about him. You and I are creatures. He is the Creator.

Those who love Christ will be blessed. Outside of this beautiful eternity are the proud ones, who hated God. Their behavior and attitudes reflected their hatred. 

Jesus declares that he is the source of David and he is also the heir to David's throne. God will never forget His promises to the nation of Israel. Jesus is the bright morning star.  That is the first star you see each day. What a beautiful picture. Out of the darkness comes this first light.

Now, the Spirit of God and the Church call out for Christ to come and fulfill this promise. Everyone who has ears to hear the Holy Spirit and the testimony of the Church should also say, "Come!"

Jesus replies that He is coming soon!  That is a promise, my friends!  Amen and amen. May we all say, "Come, Lord Jesus!"


I hope that reading the Bible this year has led you to know Jesus Christ in an intimate way.  Our purpose on this earth is to know him and glorify him with our lives.  Regardless of our relationship to God, our lives and all things on earth will glorify God, the Creator, because He has deemed that this universe will glorify Him.  Whether you are a believer or an unbeliever, your life will either reflect God's mercy, grace, and love, or His holiness, wrath, and righteous judgment of evil. Either way, God's personality and essence will be reflected on this earth and in the world to come.


My prayer for you is that your life will reflect your glorious Creator by reflecting His mercy, grace, and love through an intimate relationship brought about by your redemption through Jesus Christ.


Psalm 150

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!

Proverbs 31:25-31

The Church is God's bride.  We must conduct our lives as godly wives to our Beloved. Never worry about the days ahead.  We are in God's hands.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.  Your words of encouragement and wisdom have gotten me through each day as I sought to learn more about my Creator. I encourage you to continue to study the Word of God.  Drink it in each day and let God's Truth sustain you. May you experience the warmth of walking in the Sun of Righteousness.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Friday, December 30, 2011

December 30- A Message and A Marriage

December 30, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Malachi 1:1-2:17; Revelation 21:1-27
Psalm 149:1-9; Proverbs 31:10-24

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. 
~Mignon McLaughlin

Malachi 1:1-2:17

We are racing to the end, my friends.  Can you feel it?  Today we come to the very last book of the Old Testament.  Malachi's name means "my messenger."  This can also be interpreted "angel" because of the Greek Septuagint's translation of this as "angelos" and is similar to the angels to whom the seven letters to the churches are written at the front of the book of Revelation.  God always desires that His message go forth to His creation.  Malachi is writing at the time of Nehemiah in Jerusalem when the remnant from the Babylonian captivity has returned to rebuild and worship God in Jerusalem.  God speaks to all of the nation of Israel in this message from the messenger.  He is even speaking to the twelve tribes that are scattered among the nations.  In four hundred years from the time of this writing God will bring the Messiah to earth for the first time.  Malachi is the last messenger before this occurs. With sarcasm, God confronts Israel on topics that are close to His heart, including His love for Israel, His desire to be worshipped properly, His heart for marriage, and His fair justice.

God proves His love for Israel by recounting the story of Jacob and Esau. You will remember from Genesis 25 that these two twins were born to Abraham's son, Isaac.  Although Esau was the older son and should have inherited the promise of blessing, he was an arrogant and prideful young man.  He sold his birthright for a pot of stew and was tricked out of his blessing by Jacob. God sees the span of history and declares that through His Sovereign Will, He loved Jacob, but hated Esau.  God reminds the nation of Israel through this story that God chose to love Jacob/Israel.  Therefore, the nation of Israel owes God a debt of gratitude.  Esau's descendants, the Edomites, represent all wicked people in history. They are an object lesson to the world.  Israel represents the righteous, who are loved by God, and Esau represents the wicked, who will be hated and judged by God. This is God's universe.  God is in control.

God confronts the Israelites for disrespecting Him in their use of diseased and maimed animals for their sacrifices to Him, not to mention animals that have been stolen and mutilated.  Not giving God your best is a slap in His face.

God calls the Levites to be his messengers among the people. His purpose in choosing them was to bring life and peace to the nation of Israel and to the world. This is God's first line of messengers to form a body of believers who will love Him forever.

God feels strongly about the institution of marriage.  Here, God complains against the men of Israel because of their unfaithfulness to their wives.  They discard the wives of their youth and divorce them.  This is the passage where we see God declaring that He hates divorce.  We learn in the New Testament in Ephesians chapter 5 that marriage is a picture of Jesus and His Church.  In the Old Testament, Israel is pictured as the unfaithful wife to God. The intimacy designed for this relationship alone is the intimacy that those who love Christ will experience for eternity with Him.  Divorce is described as cruel. The New Testament clarifies that only fornication is grounds for divorce in God's eyes. It is to be avoided. God wants these earthly relationships to reflect a spiritual reality.

Do you hear God's messages in these passages?

Revelation 21:1-27

A New Heaven and A New Earth

We have just gotten one of the last messages from Malachi in the Old Testament that God hates divorce.  It is a picture of something that He does not intend for Jesus and His Bride, the Church.  In this passage in Revelation, we see what God is intending for His Bride as He carries her into eternity.  The old heaven and the old earth have passed away at the Great White Throne judgment. Now we see what Jesus promised to go and prepare for His Bride in the book of John.  Down comes a new heaven and a new earth, highlighted by the New Jerusalem.  This magnificent city is adorned like a bride for her husband.

John hears a shout that declares that God is going to live among His people and be their God.  This is reminiscent of God walking in the Garden with Adam and Eve.  God provided the first earth for the first man, Adam.  Now, we have the last earth for the last man, Jesus Christ. Adam was married to Eve as a symbol of love and intimacy and now Jesus Christ is married to His Bride, the Church and all who have loved and believed in Him.  Do you desire intimacy and to be known and loved?  Jesus promises this to you.  He is the author of love and intimacy. It is an intimacy that will last forever. In this place, Jesus will remove all sorrow, death, crying, and pain. The old world and all of its evils are gone. This corresponds to Malachi's prophecy recorded against Esau.

Once more, Jesus is in a creating mode as Creator.  Just as he created the old heaven and earth in Genesis chapter 1, he is ready to create a new heaven and a new earth.  This time he starts with the words "It is finished!"  This is the third time that Jesus has said those words.  The first time was when he gave up his spirit on the cross.  The second time was at the end of the Great Tribulation when the seventh bowl of wrath was poured out upon the earth, and the final time will be when evil and death are destroyed in the lake of fire.

Promises in the New Jerusalem

Jesus promises to sustain our thirst for life and give all believers the inheritance he promised to them.  There is a promise that believers will be God's children (John 1:12).  He promises that those who have hated him will be doomed in the lake of fire, which is the second death.  Here is a list of people who hate God as seen in verse 8:
  • cowards, who turn away from God
  • unbelievers
  • the corrupt
  • murderers
  • the immoral
  • those who practice witchcraft -   (this is the Greek word pharmakia, which is translated as a drug user.  Sorcerers and people who practiced witchcraft were the only people who used drugs when the King James Bible was interpreted.  We must realize that this word is for all who are addicted and reliant upon drugs, rather than God.)
  • idol worshipers
  • all liars
Note, these are behaviors and attitudes from which the people who are doomed will have never repented. Their pride and arrogance will seal their fate.

The New Jerusalem is the mansions described by Jesus in John 14:2.  We see a jeweled city from which the light that is provided for from God creates a rainbow of color eternally. The description is that of a cubed city within a sphere.  The walls are jewel stones that reflect light.  The twelve gates to the city are made of solid pearls.  The gates represent the twelve tribes of Israel.  It is through the work of the nation of Israel in providing the world the Law and the Messiah that all believers enter this city.  Pearls are formed from a foreign substance that gets within a mollusk.  The irritation causes a secretion to form around the substance creating the pearl.  Surely the suffering of the Israelites and God's indignation against them is pictured in the pearly gates to eternity.  His Story has meaning and even the suffering has become a jewel.  The foundations of this dwelling of God is laid by the testimonies of the twelve apostles.  The twelve foundation stones reflect the beauty of the God's story in this place. Eternity is built upon God's sacrificial love.

There is no temple in the New Jerusalem. The old system of death and sacrifice is not needed.  Christ has been victorious. Death has been conquered. God illuminates the city and there is no need for the symbolism of night and day, which reflected God purposes on the old earth.  Therefore, there is no sun and moon.  People from every nation are present in the new heaven and earth. They walk in the light of God's glory and love.  Their diversity is seen as glory and riches to God. He relishes what He has created. Nothing evil will ever be allowed in the new heavens and the new earth. The people whose names were written in the Lamb's Book of Life will dwell there with God forever. This is a promise.

How beautiful are the promises of God! Have you ever shared this story with anyone?  Who can we rescue from the lake of fire with the message of God's love and His desire for relationship and intimacy?

Psalm 149:1-9

In that day, we will sing a new song to our God.  Praise the Lord!

Proverbs 31:10-24

Think of the Church as the bride of Christ as you read this proverb.  Are we being that woman to Him?

What are you loving about God today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

P.S.  Tomorrow is the end, my friends.  What a journey we have been on together!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 29- On That Day

December 29, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Zechariah 14:1-21; Revelation 20:1-15;
Psalm 148:1-14; Proverbs 31:8-9

"...for the day of the Lord is coming..."  ~Zechariah 14:1
Zechariah 14:1-21

As we have read the Bible this year, we have seen the undeniable relationship between God and the nation of Israel.  Abraham received the promise that the world would be blessed through him.  His son, Isaac, had twin sons and Jacob, the younger son, received Isaac's blessing as the son who would be blessed by God.  Jacob wrestled with God and would not let go until God blessed him.  Jacob's name became Israel and from this man the twelve tribes of Israel came to be.  Thousands of years later, Zechariah is given a prophecy that reveals that God intends to deal with the nation of Israel until the end of time on this earth.  Today's prophecy contains information on events that are only in the future.  None of the events in today's chapter have taken place yet.  Zechariah ends his writings with the information on how the millennial kingdom comes about.  Reading the prophetic literature in the Bible gives us some details of how God's promises will come to pass.


The Day Of The Lord

We have already discussed that "the day of the Lord" is a time period that begins with the rapture of the Church and includes the Great Tribulation, the Battle of Armageddon, and the millennial reign of Christ on the earth.  Today, Zechariah gives information about the end of the Great Tribulation and how the Battle of Armageddon is ushered in. He also gives some details of what Christ's millennial kingdom will be like.  Let's take a look.

The Battle of Armageddon

We learn from Zechariah that the Battle of Armageddon is prompted with the invasion of Jerusalem.  Satan has prompted the Antichrist and the False Prophet to turn against Israel and all the rulers of the earth are convinced by evil spirits (three frog-like spirits out of the mouths of the three-see Rev. 16:13) to come in battle against Israel. I will list specifics given by Zechariah about this event:
  • The people of Jerusalem will have their possessions plundered. Vs. 1
  • God is directing that all the nations of the earth will gather to fight against Jerusalem Vs. 2   Please note that God controls even evil spirits.  They cannot act without His allowing it.
  • Houses will be plundered and women raped. Vs. 2
  • Half the population will be taken away and half will be left in the ruined city. Vs. 2
  • The Lord (Jesus Christ) will go out and fight  against the nations. Vs. 3
  • He will stand on the Mt. of Olives and there will be an earthquake that levels the land. Vs. 4
  • Jesus will send a plague on those who fought against Israel. Vs. 12
  • Jesus will cause his enemies to fight against each other on the battle field. Vs. 13
This ends the description of the Battle of Armageddon given to Zechariah.  Let me say that the Battle of Armageddon is the climax of God's indignation against Israel and their rejection of their Messiah.  It also is the culmination of God's indignation against the rebellion of all of mankind against their Creator.

The Earthly Millennial Reign Of Christ

Now we have the information that Zechariah is given in conclusion about God's promise to reign on the earth from the city of Jerusalem in the nation of  Israel and fulfill His promises to be their king and live among them.  Here is what he says:
  • The sun will act differently and there will be continuous day. Vs. 6
  • Healing water will flow out of Jerusalem and it will be a port city of water. Vs. 8
  • The Lord will be the king over all of the earth. Vs. 9
  • He will also be worshiped throughout the earth. Vs. 9
  • The land around Jerusalem will be a vast plain. Vs. 10
  • Jerusalem will finally be safe, never to be destroyed again. Vs. 11
  • People who survived the Battle of Armageddon will go up to Jerusalem each year to worship the Lord in person. Vs. 16
  • There will be the possibility of some rebellion allowed on earth during the millennial reign of Christ and this testing of people under God's perfect rule will be punished. Vs. 17-19
  • Egypt is used as an example of this. Vs. 18-19
  • Everything will be set apart and holy to God on earth during Jesus' reign, even the mundane objects on earth will be holy and purposeful in that day. Vs. 20-21
What a beautiful picture of Christ coming to earth and fulfilling his promises.  Are you surprised that he is going to allow unbelief during his earthly reign?  He allowed it during his first coming.  The millennial reign of Christ will be a time of testing of mankind under perfect conditions.  Just as in the Garden of Eden, some people will not be called to God, even in a perfect political and religious environment. Such is the way of this fallen planet.

Revelation 20:1-15

We learned from Zechariah's prophecy that the millennial reign of Jesus on this earth will be a time when people are not compelled to believe in Jesus, even though they will see him rule perfectly on the earth.  Now, the Apostle John is given a prophecy that explains more about this one thousand year reign of Christ on earth.  Here are some details:
  • Satan is bound by an angel and thrown into a bottomless pit for the one thousand years that Christ is reigning on earth. Therefore, Satan is not actively deceiving people on earth while Christ is ruling. Vs. 1-3
  • Believers from the first resurrection are on thrones and have authority in the millennial kingdom to reign with Christ and rule with him on earth for one thousand years. This will include the Old Testament saints, the age Church believers, and Tribulation saints, who were martyred and resurrected. Vs. 4-6
  • At the end of Christ's one thousand year reign on earth, Satan is unleashed from his chains and let out of the bottomless pit to come back to earth and deceive some people into rebelling against Christ. Vs. 7
  • Satan will lead a group from the descendants of Magog (see the Table of Nations in Genesis) to gather and fight against Jesus and his followers.  Once again, Jerusalem is the sight of a mighty battle between good and evil. Vs. 8-9
  • Fire comes down from heaven and consumes the attacking armies. Vs. 9
  • Satan is thrown into the lake of fire, which is where the beast (Antichrist) and the false prophet have already been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Vs. 10
  • The Great White Throne judgment occurs, where every deed ever done by those who have not loved God and whose names are not written in the Book of Life are judged by God. Vs. 11
  • The second resurrection is the resurrection of all who have died apart from belief in Christ. They come to stand before the living God.  Books are open that have recorded all that has been done by every person who has ever lived.  There is also the Book of Life, which contains the names of those who have believed in Jesus Christ. Vs. 12
  • The dead are judged according to what they have done on earth. Vs. 12-13
  • Death is destroyed and the holding place for those who have died (Sheol, Hades, the Grave) is destroyed by being thrown into the lake of fire.  The lake of fire is a second death for those who are doomed to separation from God and all that is good. Vs. 14
  • All whose names where not listed in the Book of Life are thrown into the lake of fire. Vs. 15
We have some interesting concepts to deal with in this prophecy.  It gives us a much clearer picture of God's plan for the end of time on this planet. 

Satan Bound and then Released

This passage indicates that part of God's plan is to rule on this planet without the direct influence of Satan on people's lives.  We learned from the passage in Zechariah that people will be punished if they do not come to Jerusalem to worship Christ.  Mankind has not been redeemed from their fallen state at this point.  Babies will be born during this one thousand years.  People who survived the Battle of Armageddon will repopulate the earth.  Jesus will reign perfectly, but he will reign over fallen people.  God's plan is to test mankind during this time.  God's protection and provision will be abundant on the earth. And yet, people must still trust in Christ and not in their own works to be saved.  Some people will resist. 

God's plan is to let Satan be released after this time of testing on the earth.  Those people who were born and lived on earth under Christ still have the ability to be deceived by Satan at this point and join Satan in a final rebellion against God.  You may wonder why God is allowing this.  I don't know and neither does anyone else.  Why did God let Satan rebel the first time?  Why did God allow Eve to sin in the Garden of Eden?  These are mysteries that we will learn as we spend eternity with God in His presence.

Satan is defeated for the third time and final time (once when Christ conquered death after dying on the cross and then resurrecting, once at the Battle of Armageddon, and now in this final battle on the earth).  God likes to do things in three's.  Have you noticed?  Satan then joins his two other evil cohorts in the lake of fire.  He is tormented, forever. This solves the problem of Satan and rebellion, forever.

The First Resurrection

Now, we learn about a concept called the First Resurrection.  It is important because the people who are involved in the First Resurrection get the privilege of ruling with Christ on earth during the one thousand year reign.  So, who is part of the First Resurrection?  The First Resurrection is not a one time event, but instead is the first resurrection of several groups of people.  Christ, Himself, is the first fruit of resurrection.  He leads the way on this process when he conquered the grave after his sacrificial death on the cross.When Christ resurrected from the grave, he set the captives free (Luke 4) and those who were Old Testament saints, who believed in the coming Messiah, were rescued from the grave and taken to be with the Lord in heaven. This is the first resurrection for all those who died believing in the coming Messiah. After an interlude in history, the Church is caught up/raptured to heaven when the trumpet is blown before the Great Tribulation begins.  This group of believers includes those who died in Christ during the Church Age.  This is their participation in the First Resurrection.  All those who believed in Christ after His resurrection went to be directly with the Lord in spirit after their deaths and their bodies are resurrected now to reign with Christ.  Also, those believers who came to Christ during the Great Tribulation on earth (many of whom were martyred) are brought back to life at this time to reign with Christ on the earth. These groups are all considered part of the First Resurrection.

Once again, believers in God prior to and after the Great Tribulation take part in the First Resurrection and are deemed worthy to reign with Christ on earth.  Some commentators believe that the Church Age believers will occupy the New Jerusalem in heaven during this reign and will freely go back and forth from heaven to earth, while other commentators  belief that the Church reigns on earth with Christ during the millennial kingdom.

The Great White Throne Judgment

Now, we have the Second Resurrection.  All who participate in the Second Resurrection are people who did not believe in Jesus Christ and have died.  They are resurrected in order to be judged based on their works.  The Scriptures clearly establish that man's works cannot save him.  God is keeping detailed records on every one's lives.  Do you feel insignificant? Do you think that no one is watching you or caring about your life?  The Bible teaches a very different concept. God has a cosmic super computer (symbolic) recording all deeds of every created being.  He watches. He cares. He's involved.  The Deists were wrong, my friends. Jesus Christ has earned the place of authority in the Universe.  He is able to judge mankind and we see that Jesus is sitting on the Great White Throne after ruling this earth and destroying Satan.  In the end, God replays the tapes of the lives of those who chose to not follow Him.  They are found wanting. Their works could not save them or compensate for their sins.  They are thrown into the lake of fire with Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet.

The Second Death- The End of Death and the Grave

Now, the whole concept of death and the grave (which after Christ's resurrection is a place of torment for those who had died apart from belief in Christ while awaiting the second resurrection) are destroyed.  Mankind was introduced to death in the Garden of Eden.  It occurred when the first animal was killed to be used as a covering for the nakedness of Adam and Eve.  From that point forward, the earth has been a place of death because of sin.  Now, Satan has been defeated, evil is squelched, the wicked have been judged, and the concept of death is no longer going to be a reality in the new heaven and earth that Jesus has promised to those who love him. Wow. Death and the grave are thrown into the lake of fire and will no longer be a reality. They are destroyed. This is described as the Second Death.  People who have already died are resurrected only to be judged and then experience a final death that lasts forever.  The lake of fire is the place of the Second Death.  The first death for unbelievers was called Hades/Sheol/the Grave. The Second Death after Jesus' Great White Throne Judgment is called the Lake of Fire.  Evil and all unbelievers who hated God are consumed in this fire.

These are sobering truths.

Psalm 148:1-14

What a beautiful psalm of praise.  It means so much more as I read the prophecies in Zechariah and Revelation.

Proverbs 31:8-9

The king is admonished by his mother to speak up for the helpless.  Jesus perfectly fulfills this role of the righteous king.

What are you learning?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 28- Processing God's Plan

December 28, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Zechariah 12:1-13:9; Revelation 19:1-21;
Psalm 147:1-20; Proverbs 31:1-7

Do you really believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, plans to be a loser in history? 
 ~Gary North

Zechariah 12:1-13:9

Does it make you feel good to know that all that happens on earth is part of a plan?  One message that has come to me loud and clear this year as we have studied the Bible is that God has a plan.  His Story unfolds and there are no surprises for Him.  He has even given us spoiler alerts on how it all goes down.

Today, the nation of Israel continues to be told God's intentions about the future.  The phrase "On that day" is repeated over and over in the book of Zechariah. What does this phrase refer to?  It refers to a time in the future known as The Day of the Lord that begins when the Church is raptured and the Great Tribulation and millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ occur.  Remember the concept that darkness precedes light in the Hebrew day, and evening comes before morning (Genesis Chapter 1).  For the coming Day of the Lord, the darkness of the Great Tribulation on earth will precede the light of his earthly millennial reign on this planet.  It follows the pattern God set from the very beginning of His Story in Genesis.

In our reading today, Zechariah speaks of the convergence of enemies upon Jerusalem during the Great Tribulation and at the beginning of the Battle of Armageddon. This passage begins with a beautiful description of God, "..the Lord, who stretched out the heavens, laid the foundations of the earth, and formed the spirit within humans."   Our God is a Creator, who made this universe and topped off His creation by putting a spirit within his highest creation- mankind.

The Plan:

We learn that God is going to cause Jerusalem to be completely intoxicating to the rulers on earth during the Great Tribulation.  We have read that political and commercial Babylon (the world system) will be very powerful.  They will get it in their hearts to surround Jerusalem and attack the Jews, who have been reassembled in the land.  Here, we see that God through Jesus Christ will defend the people of Jerusalem (Vs. 8).

The Jews will finally recognize their Messiah at this Second Coming.  In fulfillment of their Day of Atonement, which is the high holy day for the Jews to mourn for their sins, the nation of Israel will corporately mourn for the One they pierced.  They will weep bitterly over their only firstborn son, who died at their hands, but was risen. Jesus in his triumphant return as their warrior king will be a source of sorrow for those who missed him and rejected him the first time.  God loves repentance and humility.  Their sorrow is a balm.

Now another promise by God is given.  In that day, God will pour out His Spirit upon these people like a fountain.  He will cleanse them of their sins and they will recognize their Savior.  There will be no idol worship in the nation of Israel in that day.  Even the crass materialism of the end times will be over. No more dishonesty in order to get ahead financially.  No more relying on "things" to fill that empty hole in the heart. Jesus will fill up that hole.

Zechariah prophesies that the Shepherd will be struck and the sheep will be scattered.  This is the first coming of Christ.  And then in the Second Coming of Christ, two thirds of the people in the land will be struck down and die.  Only one third will receive their Savior.  This has been confirmed throughout our reading as God has consistently presented those who will be saved from Israel as a remnant.  A much smaller portion of the people will accept Christ.  This is that narrow gate to righteousness of which Jesus spoke. This is the small group (144,000 witnesses from each tribe seen in the book of Revelation and their converts) that will make it through the Great Tribulation period and do the following,
"I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure, just as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire. They will call on my name, and I will answer them.  I will say, 'These are my people,' and they will say, 'The Lord is our God.'"  Zechariah 13:8-9
God is happy with His Story.  It unfolds as He sees fit.  How do you square with this?

Revelation 19:1-21

Yesterday in our reading commercial and political Babylon were destroyed by an earthquake that decimated the cities of the earth.  The merchants of the earth were in deep mourning to see their prospects for wealth and power utterly destroyed.  Now, we see that heaven is rejoicing at God's righteous judgment against this wicked, Satanic world system. There is shouting and singing in heaven.  "Hallelujah! Salvation is from our God. Glory and power belong to Him alone."  They are happy that the Great Prostitute, which was the false church, has been destroyed, and the city of Babylon, which represented the commercial world system, is now nothing but a smoking pile of rubble.

The Wedding Feast

The twenty-four elders and the four living beings fall down to worship God.  This is the last that we will see of the 24 elders.  From here on out the Church is identified as the Bride of Christ. Now, its time for the wedding feast of the Lamb and his bride is prepared to present herself.  What is she clothed in?  She is wearing white linen, which represent the good deeds done on earth in the name of Jesus Christ.  All who are invited to this feast are blessed.

Let me take a moment to remind us of the parable of the ten virgins waiting to get into the wedding feast (Matthew 25:1-13). If you remember, ten virgins are waiting quite a long time for the bridegroom to arrive.  Five of the virgins are wise and have enough oil.  The unwise virgins ask the wise ones to share their oil.  They are denied.  When the bridegroom finally comes, only the virgins with oil are allowed into the wedding feast.  We see that Christ is a long time in coming to the nation of Israel this second time, and when he comes only a small portion of them will receive him, have the oil of the Holy Spirit in their lives and share in the wedding feast with the Church, who accepted Christ by faith.

This celebration of Christ, the Church, the Tribulation saints, and the redeemed nation of Israel will take place on the earth at the start of Christ's millennial kingdom.

The Battle of Armageddon

Before the celebration, John sees heaven opened and one sitting on a white horse who was named Faithful and True.  We know that this is Jesus Christ. You will recall that at the start of the opening of the seals we saw a rider on a white horse as one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.  The was the false christ/Antichrist, who brought forth a false peace that became a great war.  Now, we have the True rider on the white horse, who will fight and judge the earth, truly bringing peace on the earth. The picture of this rider is that he has bright eyes and many crowns upon his head.  He has wisdom and authority to rule.  He is worthy through his death to hold this position, as seen in the blood dipped robe that he wears.  We learn that his title is The Word Of God.  Jesus is the essence/logic/personality of God. He embodies who God is. The armies of heaven are with him.  He is the Commander and Chief of all created beings.  How does Jesus win the battle on earth?  The details are not given, but the source of victory is clear- the Word of God, which is the sword that comes forth from his mouth is what determines victory.  He spoke and the universe was created.  Now, he speaks and evil is defeated.

John sees the Antichrist/beast gathering the kings of the earth to fight the Lord.  Remember that this is predicted in Psalm 2. God laughs at their attempts.  Both the Antichrist and the False Prophet are captured by Christ and thrown alive into the lake of fire, which burns with sulfur. Their entire army is killed by the word that comes out of the mouth of the rider on the white horse. This is the Battle of Armageddon.  Vultures will gorge on the wicked people's dead bodies.

God ties all of His promises together to bring about His good purposes.  The story is about Him, folks.  It's not about you and me.  God is our Creator.  He brought forth this world.  He will finish out this world as He sees fit.  We began this book in order to know Him better.  Do you sense His power and majesty?  Are you in awe of His righteousness?

Psalm 147:1-20

Oh, can we read this psalm with new eyes of appreciation for what it is talking about!

Proverbs 31:1-7

Great advice from a mom...Don't spend your strength on women and don't guzzle wine or crave liquor.  Many men would be wise to listen to this advice.

What did you learn today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 27- The Good Shepherd And The Destruction Of Babylon

December 27, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Zechariah 10:1-11:17; Revelation 18:1-24;
Psalm 146:1-10; Proverbs 30:33

The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same. ~Stendhal

Zechariah 10:1-11:17

The job of a shepherd is to take a group of creatures who are stupid, affectionate, gregarious, easily spooked, and ready to follow someone, through the day without losing one of those sheep to wolves, who are the sheep's natural predator.  A good shepherd cares for the health of the animal and leads them into safe pastures near cool water in order to sustain them. It is not always an easy task.  Sheep tend to want to wander away. They are easily distracted.  The job of a shepherd is one of constant observance and vigilant care. Today, we learn that God intends to be Israel's Good Shepherd.

The Good Shepherd- Jesus

We begin this section with a statement by God that household idols, which were very common in Israel and Judah at this time, give false advice to people.  Idolatry does not lead people on a straight path.  God is angry at the leaders in Israel and Judah who have acted as bad shepherds and have allowed the people to follow idolatry, leading them astray.  God announces that He has arrived to look after the flock of Judah.  There is a prophecy here that the cornerstone/tent peg will come from Judah (vs. 4).  As you know, Jesus is predicted to be the cornerstone of the kingdom of God.  In 1 Peter 2:6 it says, 'As the Scriptures say, "I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for  great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.'"

In verse 4 this Good Shepherd is also described as a tent peg and a battle bow.  Jesus will be the ruler on whom everyone can hang their trust. He will be stability and victory for all who trust in him. There is a promise that Jesus will strengthen Judah and save Israel.  Why?  Verse 6 explains that it is because God loves them.  He will put behind him the times of rejecting Israel and the times of indignation against them as a people, and will restore their fortunes. The Scriptures say that in that day God will whistle and they will come running. What good shepherd does not dream of this?! There is an indication in verse 8 that there will only be a remnant of Israel who experience this glorious time.  From the few who are left after the Great Tribulation and those who have made it through that dark time on earth, having maintained their faith and trust in Christ, these promises are for them. They will be brought back from across the globe, where they were scattered.

Favor and Union/ Grace and Covenant

In chapter 11, we see that Israel and Judah's relationship with the Good Shepherd is going to suffer for a period of time.  This is because Israel has failed in their conditional covenant they had with God about the Promised Land.  You may remember that God told Moses that the people could stay in the Promised Land only if they obeyed God and followed the Law.  Their prosperity and safety in the land was conditioned upon them meeting this stipulation.  Now, Zechariah is getting an explanation that God is removing his grace and covenant with the people.  This is what we call their exile, scattering, and indignation.  This period of time will last until Christ's second coming to earth, when he sets up his millennial kingdom. The two aspects of God's favor/grace and His union/covenant are pictured as two shepherd's staffs.  There is a description that although the Good Shepherd helped the sheep, they hated him.  He declares that he won't be their shepherd anymore.  He snaps the staff called Favor/Grace in two.  No more grace and protection for Israel, now.  Until that time, we have a description of Israel selling their shepherd for thirty pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12).  This was fulfilled when Judas Iscariot sold the information on where Jesus could be captured for thirty pieces of silver.

Next, the Shepherd snaps the club called Union/Covenant in two.  The nation of Israel will no longer be unified. They will not be in the Promised Land anymore.  They will be scattered away from the Shepherd until a future day. This begins with the Assyrian captivity, continues with the Babylonian captivity, and will only end with the Second Coming of Christ.

The Bad Shepherd- Antichrist and the False Prophet

In Zechariah 11:15-17, God warns Israel that because of their rejection of the Good Shepherd, God will send a bad shepherd to care for them.  This worthless shepherd will not care that they are threatened by death.  He will not heal the injured or feed the healthy. This bad shepherd will actually devour the best sheep. God promises doom for this bad shepherd.  He will be rendered useless by God in the end.

Are you surprised at how specifically God foretold His Story to the nation of Israel? Are you surprised at how specifically He is telling us His Story for the future?

Revelation 18:1-24

Babylon Is Fallen

In chapter 17 of Revelation, we saw that the kings and rulers of the earth destroyed religious Mystery Babylon.  The apostate church, who had so much wealth and influence in the last days on earth, will be deceived by the Antichrist and the False Prophet and will be destroyed by them.  The apostate church had no Good Shepherd to protect them.  They were devoured by a bad shepherd.  Now, it is only God-the Good Shepherd who will be able to stop the one world economic system that has taken over the whole world.  It is called Babylon in Scripture.  This takes us back to the original rebellion at the Tower of Babel.

Scripture seems to indicate that religious Babylon will be centered around the city of Rome, but commercial Babylon will center around a rebuilt modern city called Babylon.  We have already read in the judgments that a great earthquake will destroy all of the cities of the world at one time in the end.  They will become rubble.  Now, this chapter describes how the merchant and international tycoons, who have gotten so wealthy through international commerce, will be distraught at the destruction of this major commercial headquarter. Once no one is left to buy their goods, the thing which they worshiped- money- is of no use.
       "All the fancy things you loved so much are gone."  Rev. 18:14
While the merchants and ship owners and tycoons are crying, heaven is rejoicing that the evil world system is coming to a close. This gluttonous, idolatrous, self-absorbed system, which loathed God and killed God's people all over the world, will be no more.  Only the smoke from the burning remains will serve as a reminder that they ever existed.

Do you realize that the love of things and materialism that you and I see today on earth is only going to get worse?  It will consume the whole world in the future.  The power brokers, who make everyone get the mark of the beast and buy and sell through this system, will one day cry as God puts an end to their false power.  All of the lies, cheating, greed, immorality, lust, and pride will be put down.  Good will triumph over evil. 

Praise God!  Are you looking forward to justice on the earth?

Psalm 146:1-10

Verse 3 says, "Don't put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there."  Amen to that!

Proverbs 30:33

Anger is what causes quarrels.

What did you see as you read today? Is all of this making sense to you?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26- Mystery Babylon

December 26, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Zechariah 9:1-17; Revelation 17:1-18;
Psalm 145:1-21; Proverbs 30:32

A religion without mystery must be a religion without God.  
~Jeremy Taylor

Zechariah 9:1-17

Judgment on the Gentile Nations

As Zechariah continues to get messages from the Lord, he learns that before the first coming of the Messiah there will be a judgment on the Gentile nations through the conquering of major ancient cities.  We know from history that the cities listed in the first part of this chapter in Zechariah were indeed conquered by Alexander the Great.  


Josephus, the great Jewish historian, recounts that on Alexander’s fast and brutal campaign of terror, he arrived in Jerusalem and saw the high priest and a group of Jewish people dressed in white.  The high priest was wearing his priestly garb and rather than kill these people, Alexander knelt down in reverence. Tradition has it that the high priest showed Alexander the portion of the book of Daniel chapter 8 that prophesied Alexander’s many conquest and  described the Greek empire with accuracy.  Josephus also records that Alexander when asked why he did not kill the high priest said that he had a vision when wondering how to conquer the ancient world where a man dressed like this high priest came to him and told him to cross over the sea straight away to obtain dominion over Asia and that God would give me dominion over Persia.  Alexander confirmed that in this vision he was exhorted to conquer.  This is why he would not destroy this man or the city of Jerusalem.  Amazing.  God spoke to Alexander and God used him as an instrument of judgment upon the gentile nations. Even this cruel and brutal man was aware that God was directing his path.


The Coming King

The First Coming

Zechariah 9:9-10

This verse is familiar to many Christians because it is so often used as the sermon verse on Easter.  Indeed, this is a promise to Israel of the first coming of Christ to earth.  We call it the Triumphal Entry, although Jesus was really coming into Jerusalem to exit the world through his sacrificial death.  In our study of the New Testament we covered the fact that Jesus actually entered Jerusalem three times, once on Saturday the Sabbath, then on Sunday, and finally on Monday.  Each time he did an activity that cemented his roles of king, priest, and prophet to the nation of Israel.  The entry on the donkey was Jesus’ entrance as king.  We know that this entrance would usher in peace for the souls of mankind through his sacrificial death.  His death on the cross brings peace between God and man.  Christ first coming gave the world spiritual peace for those who seek him. Further reading in Zechariah chapter 9 gives us what Jesus will accomplish at his Second Coming.

The Second Coming

It is at Jesus’ Second Coming that physical peace for the world is achieved.  Zech 9:10 states,
"I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and I will destroy all the weapons used in battle.  Your king will bring peace to the nations. His realm will stretch from sea to sea and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth."
It is obvious that in our day this prophecy has yet to be fulfilled.  One day, when Christ has put down the rebellion of the Antichrist on earth, this prophecy will come to pass.  From the cradle of civilization, which is symbolized by the Euphrates River, to the ends of the earth, Jesus will rule as the final king on this planet.

Verses 14-17 describe Jesus as a warrior king who goes out as a whirlwind against the enemies of Israel.  Even the mention of a bowl of blood in verse 15 hearkens to the bowl judgments in Revelation 16.  In that day, which is always a reference to the Day of the Lord, the time period after the Church is raptured, the promise that God will rescue his people (true believers in Jesus from the nation of Israel) like a shepherd who rescues his sheep, will be fulfilled.  A promise of new grain and new wine (which is unfermented because there has been no time for fermentation, as it is “new”) round out the picture of abundance during Jesus’ millennial reign on earth. Remember that the nation of Israel is promised the earthly reign, including a restored Temple with Jesus acting as the Priest/King/Prophet.  He will be a civil ruler, religious ruler, and teacher.  What a promise to this group of people who will have suffered greatly throughout the history of the  earth.

Revelation 17:1-18

The Great Prostitute—Mystery Babylon

John is taken by one of the seven angels, who had poured out the bowls of God’s wrath during the latter half of the Great Tribulation, and given a vision that provides greater insight into what the earth will be like during the time of the Great Tribulation. More explanation is provided for what brings about God’s fierce and final judgement on earth.  In this vision, John is taken into the wilderness.  Remember, it is always in the wilderness that Satan shows up to rebel against God.  Here, John sees a woman sitting on a scarlet beast with seven heads and ten horns with blasphemies written all over it.  Let’s talk about this.  The woman is the religious Babylon or the false church of the end times. She is riding on the beast, which we have already established as the Antichrist and his one world system. So we have a picture of a church on earth that is quite entangled with the political system of the Antichrist.  There is no separation of church and state.  They are in bed together.  The woman is riding this wild beast.  While Antichrist is an evil imitation of Jesus Christ, this woman on the beast is an evil imitation of the Bride of Christ/the true Church.

The Nature of the False Church

The true Church of Jesus Christ is no longer on the earth.  The Church is raptured before the beginning of the Great Tribulation.  Remember, Jesus promised the church of Philadelphia in the letters to the seven churches in chapter 3 of the book of Revelation that he would deliver them from the coming judgment on earth.  True to His promises, the true Church is gone.  So what is this fake/apostate church like?

First, the church is described as a woman.  You may have noticed that throughout Scripture religion is often reflected by female images.  Israel is the wife of God, the Church is the Bride of Christ, and false religion is a prostitute/adulterous/whore.  Goddess worship is as old as the promise in the Garden of Eden that a woman would bare a child to solve the problems of sin on earth.  Women are the instruments of fertility and the continuation of life on earth.  The womb produces fruit.  The image of fertility is tied to the image of religion as spiritual children of God come forth from religion.  In this image, the final apostate church on earth is the Mother of all Prostitutes and Obscenities and is tied to Babylon.  We must go back to the book of Genesis and remember that the first official worldwide religious rebellion against God was led by Nimrod, a descendant of Noah’s son, Ham, who built the Tower of Babel in the Plain of Shinar.  The Tower was a tribute to man as a way to elevate man to God’s stature.  God stopped this first rebellion by scattering the people of the earth through creating different languages.  Babel eventually became Babylon.  It is this Babylon and the beliefs tied to this ancient story that we see flourishing in the final false religion on earth.  Everything old is new again.  

This is a church that does not need the One True God.  It is a church that is the Mother of all pagan religions on earth.  Participants in this final false church on earth will be from every belief system on the planet.  They are the children of this whore. They will be united by their greed, self-reliance, pride, and immorality.  In this description we learn that this false church is drunk with the blood of true believers in Christ.  During the Great Tribulation, this religious organization will kill many Tribulation saints.  This whore church will be the main instrument for martyring true believers in Christ.  John is stunned by this image. His beloved Roman church that has become so influential for Christ in John's day is going to be the vehicle for deceiving the world with a false belief system. How do we determine that it is the Roman church? Keep reading to find out. 

The angel asked why John is stunned as the angel ties this image back to the prior images John has seen.  The seven headed, ten horned beast is the Antichrist.  This is the one who appeared to be dead and then came back to life.  People whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life take this fake miracle as a sign to worship this beast/world political leader.  He eventually becomes the focus of religious worship on the earth, but before he takes the reigns politically, there is the false church that becomes a threat to him.

Perhaps the Roman Catholic Church that is left on the earth once the true believers from that church are raptured will be the vehicle to unite the world religions under one worldwide ecumenical system.  They certainly have the church government, infrastructure, and organizational system to accomplish this.  One cannot be dogmatic on this.  It is just a thought.

We again have the confirmation that the political Antichrist will have an alliance with ten kings/rulers of the European nations and then three of them will be killed. The seven remaining kings (eight, if you include Antichrist) agree to give him power as a dictator.  It may be that this is because of the judgments and trials that have been upon the earth from the trumpet judgments of God.  Also, demonic influences cause these rulers to acquiesce. Leaders from across the globe will be demonically influenced (the three frogs from the mouth of Satan, Antichrist, and the false prophet) to march across the land and wage war in the Holy Land in the final battle from the Campaign of Armageddon.

Now we learn that the beast/Antichrist eventually rips apart and brutally puts down the false church.  Being a man of deception, this world dictator turns against this institution that promoted his rise to power.  This Great Whore, who convinced the whole world to follow someone other than the One True God, now runs into trouble with the new world dictator.  The false prophet (the beast who comes out of the land), who is associated with the Antichrist/beast (the beast who rises out of the sea), turns on the great Harlot/ Mystery Babylon and strips her naked, eats her flesh, and burns her remains.  This is a picture of the Antichrist and his false prophet taking all of the wealth that this false church has amassed. It is also a picture of the Antichrist destroying the possibility that the people on earth can worship anything but him.

What is your reaction to this final false church on earth?  Do you see that worshiping anyone other than God through Jesus Christ is considered adultery and fornication to God?  The Great Whore is any religion that does not worship God alone.  This false belief system will be judged during the Great Tribulation just as Jesus predicted in his letters to the seven churches.  The apostate church is spewed out of Christ's mouth as depicted by the Laodicean church in the seven letters to the churches in Revelation.  Mystery Babylon, the pride of man and the indifference to God that was represented at the Tower of Babel, will finally be destroyed for good.

 Psalm 145:1-21

Read this aloud today and ponder God’s majesty.

Proverbs 30:32

Being proud is nothing to brag about. 

What are you noticing?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Sunday, December 25, 2011

December 25- Driven By Passion

December 25, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Zechariah 8:1-23; Revelation 16:1-21;
Psalm 144:1-15; Proverbs 30:29-31

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  
~Isaiah 9:6

Zechariah 8:1-23

Merry Christmas!!  What a wonderful time of year.  I hope that today finds you happy and passionate about the God who came down to make His dwelling among men.  Today, we learn that God is passionate about dwelling with mankind and He intends to come back to earth and reign on the earth as the perfect ruler that the world has always longed for. The prophet Zechariah is getting messages about this from the Lord.

Today, God tells Zechariah that He is passionate about Mt. Zion and about Jerusalem.  As a matter of fact, God describes Himself as consumed with passion for Jerusalem.  Have you ever had a piece of property that you loved and wanted to buy?  It became your passion and you made plans to build on it and create a nice life for yourself there? We see this type of desire in God. He says that He is going to return to Mt. Zion and is going to live in Jerusalem.  You may say to yourself, "He sure did pick a screwed up city to live in."  Well, God promises that He is going to make it a Faithful City.  He projects that when He is living there and running things, old men and women will sit in the city square.  Young kids will play in the streets.  It is a picture of safety and contentment.

This is designed to encourage the small remnant of the Jews, who have faced major hardships in trying to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple after the return from captivity.  God promises these people that He is going to rescue His people from the east and west, where they have been scattered.  He is going to bring them home. 

With this in mind, they are to take heart and finish the task at hand! God assures this remnant that their work in Jerusalem is the hand of God starting to plant seeds of peace and prosperity that will be reaped in the future.  Judah and Israel had become symbols of what it means to be cursed among the nations, but God tells these people that in a future day, Judah and Israel will be examples to the world of what it is to be blessed.  Israel is going to be a blessing to the earth. With this truth, the remnant should rebuild and be glad.

God points out that He didn't change His mind when He decided to punish the Israelites and send them into captivity for their disobedience, and He is not going to change His mind to make Israel a blessing to the whole world and gather her back to the land in the future.  He asks that they treat each other fairly, showing love to one another, and to not swear to false gods.

Another message given to Zechariah about the millennial kingdom of Christ on earth is that people from every nation will come to Jerusalem to worship in that day. They will seek blessings from the Lord, who is ruling from this city.  Jews will be the priests at that time.  People will clutch at their robes to be near to Jesus. People will walk with them and talk with them about God. The Jews will teach the world about God at that time.

What do you think of these promises to the nation of Israel?  Do you think these truths sustain them as they endure the indignation of God during the times of the Gentiles?

Revelation 16:1-21

Jesus is directing the angels from the Temple to pour out the bowls of God's wrath upon the earth during the last part of the Great Tribulation period on earth.  Do you find it ironic that he is directing this from the Temple, which contains the Ark of God where the mercy seat is located?  The mercy seat is not available any longer to the inhabitants of the earth. That part of the story is done.  Mercy was extended and rejected. Now is the day of God's wrath against those who have rejected His mercy.

These bowl judgments correspond to the plagues that came against Egypt in the Old Testament.  The plagues in Egypt foreshadowed the judgment of God in the future against those who have hardened their hearts in rebellion.

The First Bowl

The first bowl is poured and malignant sores break out on the inhabitants of the earth, who have received the mark of the beast and have worshiped his talking statue.  This corresponds to the plague of boils in Exodus 9.

The Second Bowl

The second bowl is poured forth and the sea becomes blood and everything in it dies.  This corresponds with the Nile River becoming blood in Exodus 7. The second trumpet blast had caused one third of the sea waters to become blood, but now they all do. This is the death that results from sin.  Death is brought to the earth through this judgment.

The Third Bowl

This is a continuation of the ruining of the water supply on earth.  When this bowl is poured out the fresh water on earth is ruined.  This leaves mankind in complete devastation.  No drinking water is available at this point.  Water is the gift of life for living beings.  This signals the end of life for the wicked.

The Fourth Bowl

When God decided to judge the wickedness on the earth in the book of Genesis He did it with water.  The Flood destroyed all living things, except Noah and his family. Now at the end of God's Story, mankind and his rebellion have brought judgment upon the earth again. This time, God is going to destroy the earth by fire. There will be supernatural and excessive heat from the sun that scorches the earth.  This could be from God adjusting the atmosphere or moving the earth just a tad closer to the sun.  Either event would cause this scorching.  It could also be from nuclear war. Many other parts of Scripture confirm this prophecy including Luke 21:25, Deut. 32:24, Isaiah 42:25, Mal. 4:1 and Matt. 24:22.    Notice that in the midst of this judgment the people on earth curse God, rather than turning to Him for deliverance.

The Fifth Bowl

It is interesting that while the earth is burning with heat from being so closer to the sun or from nuclear war, the sun itself is not giving off the same light.  This is similar to the plague in Egypt in Exodus chapter 10 when the Egyptians were plunged into darkness. We see prophecies of this in Isaiah 60:2, Joel 2:1-2, 31, and Mark 13:24.  We see great suffering here as people are in pain and gnawing their tongues in thirst.  People still do not turn to God.  Pride is the sin that destroys mankind.

The Sixth Bowl

In this judgment, the great Euphrates River, which was first introduced to us at the birth of civilization in the Garden of Eden, is dried up at the death of civilization during God's judgment.  This drying of the Euphrates River is instrumental in joining the East to the West and bringing the nations into Israel to fight the final war on the earth.

Interlude

Following the other pattern from the seven seals and seven trumpets, we have an interlude to set up the scene before the final bowl of God's wrath is poured upon the earth.  Here we see that the unholy trinity of Satan, the Antichrist, and the false prophet (second beast from the land) send forth three evil spirits that cause and inspire the rulers of the world to gather for battle against the Lord and the nation of Israel. 

Jesus explains that to the unbelieving world he comes as a thief in the night.  They will be surprised, but the believers will have been warned and will be dressed with robes of righteousness.  These are the Tribulation saints, who have survived to this point through God's supernatural protection.

The world rulers assemble in the valleys of Armageddon to wage war against God.

The Seventh Bowl

Seven is the number of completion in the Bible.  God's wrath upon rebellious mankind is coming to an end. As this final bowl is poured out, a mighty shout comes from the throne in the Temple in heaven.  It is Jesus Christ who shouts, "It is finished!"  We have heard him say this once before.  He said it on the cross as he yielded up his Spirit in death and conquered sin.  This was a blow to Satan. Now, we see that Jesus is going to conquer the earth and defeat Satan on this planet.  The world system that Satan developed has wrought great havoc upon the earth. Jesus is coming to save the planet. There is thunder and lightning. A great earthquake that splits Babylon into three sections and destroys all of the cities of the earth occurs. This is the cup of God's wrath that we have read about in other prophecies.  Every island disappears. All mountains are leveled and a terrible hailstorm with hailstones weighing seventy-five pounds destroys living plants, animals, and people.  This ends the Great Tribulation period.  God's indignation is done.

Again, the Church is not part of this punishment on earth. The Church witnesses God's wrath from heaven.

Psalm 144:1-15

Read this psalm picturing the Tribulation saints battling through this time.

Proverbs 30:29-31

No monarch is as stately as the Lord.

What are you seeing as you read?

Blessings to you and Merry Christmas,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton