Archives For Revelation

Any sane, fed-up, liberty loving citizen will benefit from John MacArthur’s June 13 sermon, ‘When Government Rewards Evil and Punishes Good,

Time constraints meant I couldn’t get to it after a friend dropped me the link mid last week.

The recent rash, health hazard lockdown in New South Wales seemed to provide an opportune time to tune in.

I call these excessive lockdowns a health hazard because in all frankness that’s exactly what they are.

They’re an illogical way to fight COVID-19.

It makes no sense for public health experts to issue public health orders that hurt healthy people.

The same goes for public health orders that hinder unhealthy people who need to get healthy.

Pinning them to their couch, fast food and Netflix – among other mind-numbing, life sucking drugs and devices we’ve allowed into our lives – isn’t a logical, holistic health strategy.

The excessive use of lockdowns will kill.

I’ve already argued how CCP-19 medical tyrants are harming cancer research.

We also published a piece in February pointing to the World Health Organisation’s regional director for Europe who warned that,

‘Coronavirus measures will have a ‘catastrophic’ impact on hundreds of thousands of cancer patients who’ve had appointments cancelled and screenings delayed during the pandemic.’

Additionally, information provided by Caldron Pool on Monday strongly backs the conclusion that public health orders are creating a public health crisis.

Christian’s ought to be on the frontline fighting this on behalf of the poor, the wounded and the vulnerable.

While some are. Many aren’t.

Instead, they post selfies of themselves getting “vaccinated.” Usually accompanied by a manipulative comment like “man up”, “be a big boy,” or “do your duty and help us get out of this mess.”

Some lurk on social media smugly calling those who choose to practice more discernment, “anti-vaxxers.”

Rather than stand with the vulnerable and encourage the gift of discernment, they call the “vaccine hesitant” and those who are more civic-aware “selfish.”

Any Christian who would rather self-promote, than sigh with the wounded stands on extremely thin ice.

It’s this trend that MacArthur’s sermon smacks up the side of the head.

“The true church,” MacArthur asserted, “follows Christ, not the government.”

The power of government is not its own. God gives it, and God can take it away.

Though people in power can become lawless, there is no such thing as a Lordless power.

Their power is on loan to them through the office of vocation, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Consequently, God will hold government accountable for how that power is used.

Speaking from Romans 13, MacArthur explains,

“The role of the government is to restrain evil; and when it functions to restrain evil, it is fulfilling its God-ordained purpose…It is designed as a necessary restraint in a world of sinners.”

He adds,

“This is God’s design for government. The problem is, when government ceases to function by God’s design, it yields up its authority.”

“When government turns the divine design on its head and protects those who do evil and makes those who do good afraid, it forfeits its divine purpose.”

MacArthur then lists how today “In our world rulers are designing a culture that protects the immoral.” 

First, “it desires to protect criminals, and makes those who do good afraid.”

Second, “criminals are unrestrained because they don’t fear the consequences, but the police are restrained because they fear the consequences of stopping criminals.”

Third, by propagating lies, protecting liars and persecuting those who speak the truth, “it praises the evil and persecutes the good.”

The conclusion being that “God’s design for government has been entirely corrupted.”

A corrupted government turns everything upside down, “like putting [Canadian] Pastor James Coates in prison for preaching but letting rioters go free.”

For him,

“The greatest threat to truth and virtue in this country is the government because they have totally prostituted their God-ordained design. All through history, government is the ultimate persecutor of people. Satan has to get ahold of government; and that’s where he operates—always work through government…Satan always works through evil rulers to persecute the people of God.”

COVID era government attacks on civil rights aren’t new.

For example,

“Look, in Acts chapter 4, the Jewish leaders said to the apostles, “Stop preaching!” In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar said, “Stop worshiping!” Again, in Daniel 6—we didn’t read it—the rulers said, “Stop praying, or we’re going to throw you into”—what?—“the lions’ den.”

MacArthur continues,

‘So we are beginning to see persecution from government. This is the most formidable persecution: COVID, LGBTQ, transgender, social justice—all these new ideologies are now going to become the only acceptable moral standards. And if you don’t accept them, you’re going to be the enemy of the government. Truth, the Bible, Scripture is going to be cancelled. The government’s taking control; they want to take control of absolutely everything. The church has become the main enemy of the government—nothing new.”

He closes with prayer, but not without first reminding us that Romans 13, when removed from the context of Christ’s Lordship, has been used to justify “horrendous abuses of individual human rights”:

“Hitler’s Holocaust, racism in the apartheid of South Africa, both the Jews in Germany and blacks in South Africa were viewed as a threat to public health and national security… “‘Trust us,’ said government…‘we truly have your best interests at heart. All we want to do is help . . . keep you safe.’”

Preaching from Romans and Revelation, MacArthur acknowledges the battle lines between the World (Kosmos), Satan and Parousia (physical return of Christus Rex – Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords).

The Lamb wins. The Lamb has already won. The Lamb will overcome.

We can vent at government abuse, and vent we should.

Be Ephesians 4:26 angry. Fervent in prayer as James the brother of Jesus instructs (James 5:16).

Likewise, James in 4:7, restrained righteous anger stops the triumph of evil.

This reflects where I think MacArthur’s main points land.

As I wrote last week, Government as God is a government gone wrong.

The full transcript of MacArthur’s sermon can be accessed here.

WATCH:


First published on Caldron Pool, 18th August 2021.

©Rod Lampard, 2021.

IMG_4810‘Many problems arise when eager Christians try to make concrete what God has left pictorial’
………………………………………………………….(Dickson & Clarke, p.85)

This artists impression of Revelation 11-13, comes out of notes from our current journey through the wonders of John’s testimony.

Although Revelation isn’t an easy book to walk through with teenagers and littler ones, the study is going well.

It’s been interesting to note the unusually high amount of distractions and frustrations that have hindered our path.

Call it coincidence or not. In general, one of the deep realities of this text is that it calls us away from ourselves, our comfort, our complacency and half-heartedness. So there’s bound to be some spiritual challenges that cross our path.

There is more to the unsettling way in which Revelation grabs us. More than the first response of our intellect and emotions allow. Sense experience only goes so far. Whether that be total rejection of John as a nut job, suspicion over any mythological lag of the era being conveyed or unquestioning acceptance that hypes up parallels to modern events without restraint.

One of the primary go to points for me when teaching this has been the caveat of not reading into the text. I remind myself constantly to fight easy assumptions that  link this number to that historical figure or that metaphor to any number of current events.To paraphrase many a theologian worthy of their qualifications: like the rest of the books of the bible, read as it is, Revelation reads us.

With this responsible frame, working through the text with our homeschoolers is bringing up some opportunities to recreate images and scenes. Just going with what John says, without adding anything to it via speculation, frees us to explore the large amount of activity John testifies to. It’s also meant that cross referencing the texts with other biblical texts.

Brief and simple introductions to the historical setting and language makes things easier. Free of confusing interpretations, teaching eschatology (end of the old in Christ/beginning of the new in Christ) gets a lot more exciting.

With the fog cleared, it’s easier to see that this book of hope is full of colour; adjectives and verbs, repetition and mathematically mapped out illustrations. Noting this helps when looking at the detail and care John has put into relaying what he has witnessed to the people of his day.

For us, a hypothetical example of the impact of John’s message on his audience might have been stated like this: Working with John’s ‘one third of all’ lists we put 1/3 of 6 billion people into a pie graph, then work the fractions into percentages. (Given time constraints we couldn’t do this with land mass of the earth or the oceans), but the reason for focusing on this brings home John’s point, a major and very physical event affects one third of the inhabitants of both continents and oceans.

Repetition of measurements are one of the most interesting aspects of Revelation. In some sense it gives a plausibility to the text. Meaning that Revelation cannot be easily written off as the ramblings of a madman.  John’s own words, “this calls for wisdom”(Rev.13:18), reflect a call towards a more cautious and sober approach to the text.

More than with Luke and Acts, in teaching Revelation I’ve been more aware of my own prejudices towards the text, both learnt and those imposed through popular views of Revelation. Including the popular mockery of society attached to it. Some of which is not unwarranted. I’m learning that part of teaching the text responsibly requires going into battle against these subversive lens’ and others like them.

Instead of finding something specific about the future, in Revelation, we hear of Jesus Christ, his people, his victory and how humanity is found, then rescued by God through His Son. We are told of a now and not yet. All speculation pales when put up against these facts present in the text.

Revelation is alive. John calls the Church to reform, tells his people of a war on Christians, and encourages them to endure persecution patiently. It’s a prophetic reminder that a history lived without the redemption of Jesus Christ is one bound and deceptively enslaved to sin’s constant downgrading of humanity on all fronts. John tells of how God answers us and directs our attention to the present and future hope we are gifted in the unconquerable, Jesus Christ – Christus invictus!

‘Unquestionably, the most common interpretative error in reading the symbolism of Revelation is to confuse the symbols of the book with its message. The symbols are not the message; they carry and embody the message…John wrote to awaken and shape the moral and religious imagination of Christians on his own day.’
(Achtemeier, Green & Thompson, p.562)

Source:

Achtemeier, P.J., Green, B.J., & Thompson, M.M. 2001 Introducing The New Testament Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing

Dickson, J.& Clarke, G. 2007 666 And All That: The Truth About The Future, Blue Bottle Books

Phil Keaggy LIVE event

In order to find suitable songs to kick-start our study through Revelation, I went scrolling around YouTube.

The goal was to mark the end of our successful journey through Luke and Acts; to find something that would also mark the start of a new quest that will take us through the Book of Revelation.

What I found was this performance of ‘John the Revelator’, by Blues Counsel and Phil Keaggy, dated October 2014.The song has been around since at least the time of Blind Willie Johnson (1897-1945) and since then it’s been covered by more than one performer.

I’ve long been partial to the Keaggy version, which appeared on his ’93 album, ‘Crimson and Blue.’ So, I figured what better song is there to get the ball rolling than one which features a bunch of guitarists.

One other stand out that I’m fond of and plan to use in my approach to teaching from John’s letter, prophecy and recount, is Michael Card’s ‘Unveiled Hope.’ Card’s entire album is written and performed with a contemplative closeness to the content of John’s book.

Some songs fall flat, such as Holy, Holy, Holy. Others, however, punch out a sound that reflects the present and future, hope and victory in Jesus Christ. Themes that contribute to the major points of the text.

As I did with Luke and Acts, for my ongoing prep for each session I’m resting a great deal on the Holy Spirit’s direction. Working hand-in-hand with Greg Clarke and John Dickson’s ‘666 And All That, 2007‘ and, Achtemeier, Green and Thompson’s, ‘Introducing the New Testament, Its Literature and Theology, 2001.’

‘While Revelation is a book that discloses and prophesies, it is above all a book that, like the writings and words of all the biblical prophets, intends to admonish, correct, and encourage its readers. John calls for repentance, obedience, faithfulness, and perseverance. This is not a code needing to be cracked; it is a proclamation that needs to be heard and obeyed’
         – (Achtemeier, Green and Thompson, p.558)