The Word was God

John Chapter 5

This story looks at why Jesus healed a paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda. Of course there was a lesson to learn. Jesus used healing as a teaching tool. Talk about a great teacher. If you saw someone heal a paralyzed person, wouldn’t you pay attention to what he had to say? Wouldn’t he command all your attention? Let’s take a look at a day in Jesus’ life and what He wanted to accomplish that day. Of course you are going to see all new details in this study you never saw in John chapter 5 you never saw before.

John 5:1-47 NLTse Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. (2) Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. (3) Crowds of sick people--blind, lame, or paralyzed–lay on the porches. (5) One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. (6) When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” (7) “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” (8) Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” (9) Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, (10) so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!” (11) But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.'” (12) “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded. (13) The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. (14) But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” (15) Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him. (16) So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. (17) But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” (18) So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God. (19) So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. (20) For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. (21) For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. (22) In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, (23) so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him. (24) “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. (25) “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice–the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. (26) The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same lifegiving power to his Son. (27) And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man. (28) Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, (29) and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. (30) I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will. (31) “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. (32) But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true. (33) In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true. (34) Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved. (35) John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message. (36) But I have a greater witness than John–my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me. (37) And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, (38) and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me–the one he sent to you. (39) “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! (40) Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. (41) “Your approval means nothing to me, (42) because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. (43) For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. (44) No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God. (45) “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. (46) If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. (47) But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

After highlighting those key words, I couldn’t wait to get started on this study. But when I tried to break it into sections. I saw how John recorded it into one long story. But I think it’s best if we break it down into sections and look at how each section of this story is related to the others.

Pool of Bethesda

John 5:1-18 NLTse Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. (2) Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. (3) Crowds of sick people--blind, lame, or paralyzed–lay on the porches. (5) One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. (6) When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” (7) “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” (8) Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” (9) Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, (10) so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!” (11) But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.'” (12) “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded. (13) The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. (14) But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” (15) Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him. (16) So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. (17) But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” (18) So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.

The Word was God
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The first detail I got excited about is how the words lay, laying, and sleeping relate to the previous chapter where that woman went out and brought the entire city of Samaria to Jesus. We all seem to remember how the disciples rejected Samaria and the story about the good Samaritan. But when we read this story about a man restricted to a sleeping mat for thirty-eight years, what does that make you think about? How is that simple time frame dancing around in your mind and how is God’s Spirit speaking to you about it?

Jesus told the paralyzed man to, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” How are we serving God if we’re not moving forward? What good are we doing? Let’s take a look at this from to totally different aspect. I’m thinking about writing a book that will compare the Tabernacle built by Moses to the stone temple built by Solomon. Those will be compared to the Heavenly Sanctuary and Jesus’ ministry in this world and in Heaven. Now I want to look at a single detail, that bronze pool sitting on the backs of twelve oxen. One chapter placed it in the courtyard of Solomon’s wife, Pharaoh’s daughter. Obviously Egypt used oxen as a major symbol. Their major god, Apis served as an intermediary between humans and an all-powerful god. Sounds a bit like the Messiah in Egyptian mythology. I’ve read Christian books trying to convince people those twelve oxen pointed in different directions to represent God’s Spirit going out to all the world. Okay! Wait a minute. Where does it say that in the Bible? None of those books can offer a word of evidence. Based on another chapter in the Bible telling us, Solomon placed this bronze deity in his temple courtyard was enough for them to think it was some sort of symbol God used. So they made up their own interpretations. But how can it represent a moving out to the world? Look at how the statue is constructed. A huge pool of water is sitting on the backs of twelve oxen. Three point north, south, east, and west. Let’s see how this theory works. Three move out to the north. Its all okay. The other three move to the south. The pool is still supported. Now three move east. What happens to that pool of water? It falls to the ground just like those interpretations.

We have to find and accept the correct message to move forward. If that pool held the living water Jesus taught about in the previous chapter, it would all be lost because people tried to take a symbol and turn it into something it was never intended to be. We see those Jewish leaders trying to do the same thing in this story. They are trying to make the Sabbath something it was never intended to be.

We can see one similarity to those oxen and what the Jews were doing to the Sabbath. Those oxen were a false Messiah to Egyptians. The Jews tried turning the Sabbath into a way to earn or work their way into God’s Kingdom and grace.

Let’s see how this story compares with the previous story. Jesus was in Galilee where He healed a government official’s son near death. Before that, Jesus talked to that woman at the well. She brought the entire city of Samaria to Jesus. Let’s look at the progressions.

Jesus moved from Samaria, to Galilee, His hometown, to Jerusalem. In other words, Jesus moved from a Samaritan woman, to the whole city, to Galileans He grew up with, to a government official, to a sick man in Jerusalem, to the Jewish leaders. On a spiritual view, Jesus moved from the beliefs of a Samaritan, to what people in His hometown thought about Him, to a sick man ready to give up hope, to the Jewish Leaders. A different view showed us, Jesus moved from healing a boy close to death to a man who was paralyzed for thirty-eight years, to the Jewish leaders. Jesus is moving toward healing.

Many people believe those key words sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed describe the spiritual state of the Jewish leaders. They do to a degree. But how does that description fit modern Christian churches today? That’s a question you’ll have to take up with God.

Was that pool able to heal the man or anyone for that matter? The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about anyone being healed there. But Jesus healed a man there. Why didn’t Jesus heal all of them? Maybe to emphasize the point, no one helped that man.

Notice how the man was healed. Jesus told him to get up off his sleeping mat and walk. What does that tell you about the condition of churches today? Are they sleeping or what? A lot of them admit their asleep. What are they doing about it? They seem to preach the same sermons over and over again telling people they’re asleep. They put people to sleep with their preaching. Why don’t they take the lesson from the previous chapter and turn people over to God’s Spirit, become healed, and move froward? Does the process seem to simple to work? I’ve shown people that, and they tell me I am complicating things. How? I don’t know. I see God had to repeat the same message over and over again in a lot of different ways, but people just don’t want to catch on. They seem happy where they are and don’t want to move. Maybe that’s why Jesus only healed one person there. He was the only one ready and willing to move.

You can see the contracts between sleeping, healed, and walking. There is also a close connection between healing and walking. The connection is Jesus. He explained this is great detail later in this story.

First we have to look at another issue raised in this story, the Sabbath. This miracle happened on the Sabbath, so the Jewish leaders objected. Why did they object? They claimed carrying a mat on the Sabbath was working. Where does it say that in the Old Testament? Obviously those Jewish leaders made a carrier out of making up new rules and regulations. Jesus had to be the first person they ever saw healing. As soon as Jesus healed the paralyzed man on the Sabbath, those Jewish leaders made a new rule. Has that ever happened to you in church? The leaders see you moving forward in your faith and they start creating new rules to put you back on your mat.


 

The man didn’t know Jesus. That was okay, the Jewish leaders didn’t know Jesus either. At least the man had an excuse, he was walking for the first time in thirty-eight years. Later Jesus found the man and introduced Himself. Jesus gave that man a simple message. “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” That message was far different than the message Jesus gave to the Samaritan woman. If you think about it, the message Jesus gave to the man in Jerusalem wouldn’t have worked in Samaria. Another lesson to pay attention to.

So the man went to the Jewish leaders to tell them who healed him. Did the man deliver the message Jesus gave him? John didn’t record that detail. Would those Jewish leaders pay attention to that message? We’ll never know. Would they accept any message from Jesus delivered by any means? Not until He started following their rules. The Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. They had their sequence to reach people and God had His.

Jesus had an answer for the Jewish leaders they didn’t expect. Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” Talk about opening a can of worms. The Jewish leaders weren’t happy about that statement. Jesus approached those Jewish leaders far differently than He approached that Samaritan woman. We can’t possibly take one process and think it will work with everyone. Look how it turned out for Jesus. The Jewish leaders tried even harder to find a way to kill him. Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire. To those Jewish Leaders, Jesus not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God. See how people jump to their own conclusions and while twisting people’s words? If nothing else, this story is a contrast to the woman at the well to show us, we don’t stand a chance of reaching people without God’s help.

I Tell You the Truth

John 5:19-21 NLTse So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. (20) For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. (21) For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants.

I took out this small section because it introduced and dwelt with an unusual key word. Look at how Jesus repeated do, doing, and does. All action words related to the man getting up and walking. Jesus made it clear where His marching orders and power came from. Not from Himself but His Farther. Those priests accused Jesus of trying to be equal with God. Which wasn’t true at all. They introduced the subject, so Jesus went on to explain the truth. Jesus got into some serious subjects here like raising the dead, doing greater miracles, and other details the Jewish leaders weren’t ready for. Why did Jesus move ahead of where the Jewish leaders were at the time?

Listen to My Message

John 5:22-25 NLTse In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, (23) so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him. (24) “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. (25) “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice–the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live.

Jesus quickly moved to a new series of key words about listening and hearing. Jesus also introduced the subject of judgment as well as honoring the Father. All of those words and subjects are subjects those religious leaders had to learn. Their minds were so engrossed in the law, they spent their entire lives looking for something people did wrong, an excuse to jump all over people. Why did they do that. Jesus showed us why. When He healed on the Sabbath, they quickly made a new rule. They used the law to draw attention and glory to themselves. They made themselves judges and left God out of the process. Jesus was about to tell them the truth of the matter and it was a matter of life and death.

Authority to Judge

John 5:26-30 NLTse The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same lifegiving power to his Son. (27) And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man. (28) Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, (29) and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. (30) I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.

Jesus already pointed out how His Father will give Him full authority to judge. He made that point to get them to listen. Do you think that message worked? To emphasize His point, Jesus added more details about eternal life. Not only did Jesus receive authority to judge, He also received power to grant life. Jesus didn’t explain the plan of salvation, but included an important detail by referring to Himself as the Son of Man. Jesus pointed out He is the Son of God and the Son of Man. This is a concept those Jewish leaders couldn’t accept. They still won’t accept it. And many Christians are confused on the subject. To understand Jesus’ two titles, you have to know something about God’s plan of salvation. You can review the book of Hebrews for one detailed explanation. After all, that book was written to show Hebrews what they missed.

Jesus also repeated the lesson, He is subject to His Father’s will. How could that be difficult to understand? Shouldn’t every son be subject to their father? Especially when their Father has infinite wisdom. The Jews should have known that. At this point they should have at least been interested in finding out more about Jesus’ connection with God by asking a few questions. But pride held them back.

Jesus’ Testimony

John 5:31-38 NLTse “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. (32) But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true. (33) In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true. (34) Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved. (35) John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message. (36) But I have a greater witness than John–my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me. (37) And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, (38) and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me–the one he sent to you.

Jesus moved from truth, to His message, to judgment, onto His testimony. Sounds like a courtroom scene. But not in the right order. Jesus was trying to keep them out of the courtroom. Jesus already told them, “the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment.

Jesus wasn’t fooling around. He wasn’t only addressing those Hebrew leaders, He was teaching His disciples, as well as telling a story that John would record and people like us would be reading today, and tomorrow. Don’t we want to avoid that courtroom? Over half the Christian religions today don’t know, or won’t accept the fact, Jesus is judging the world right now.

Jesus’ role as judge and the process explained in Hebrews doesn’t fit in with a lot of theologies. So to discount the entire book, including, “by his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.” (Hebrews 10:20 NLTse). It’s a sad fact to think modern religious leaders refuse to teach people they have a direct path to God’s throne because Jesus’ role as in the Judgment and the process doesn’t fit into their theology. This doesn’t mirror the Jewish religious leader’s view on the Sabbath by accident. How many rules have modern religious leaders made up along the way to cover their tracks?

Jesus identified one person who testified on His behalf. That was John the Baptist. Was that pointing to others who severed God with the same power, determination, education, and dedication as John? Jesus also said He didn’t need any human witness. I wonder what Jesus meant by that. Jesus placed a link between that information and being saved. Jesus reminded the Jewish leaders, John only pointed to Him.

God gave Jesus a far greater testimony. What He taught and His miracles. Were they paying attention? Do we? God also testified about Jesus, but people can’t hear His voice because they really don’t believe in Jesus. Like those Jewish leaders, they know about Jesus. They heard stories about Jesus. They even saw Jesus heal. That’s where this story began. But they didn’t believe in Jesus. Many Christians have less of a relationship with Jesus than those Jewish leaders did. What are the preachers and teachers doing today? Or what aren’t they doing?

You Search the Scriptures

John 5:39-47 NLTse “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! (40) Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. (41) “Your approval means nothing to me, (42) because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. (43) For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. (44) No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God. (45) “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. (46) If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. (47) But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

To say Jesus hit the nail on the head would be the understatement of the century. People have the tendency to search the scriptures looking for answers they want to hear. Look at the context of this lesson. Can anyone argue with the fact, Jesus told them what they needed to hear? Did they listen? Look back at what sparked this conversation. Those Jewish leaders were showing off their knowledge of the law. They spent their lives searching scripture to prove what they wanted to prove. If it wasn’t in scripture, they found an excuse in scripture to write their own laws.

The same thing happens today. Churches into the law misinterpret God’s law as bad as the Pharisees did in Jesus’ day. If their into their own form of salvation, they pull out a few bits and pieces of scripture to support the easy way they want to teach. If their into prophecy…. watch out! Modern interpretations on prophecy are all over the map. So much is taken out of context it makes me laugh. In three previous books I’ve written, I looked at over 160 prophecies Jesus fulfilled. Each and everyone had a recorded fulfillment in plain simple language so there couldn’t be any misunderstanding. The main theme and context of the chapter with the prophecy match the context of the chapter containing its recorded fulfillment. God used that simple pattern so there would never be any reason for Christians to disagree.

I’ve discussed and shown this to a number of people who live on prophecies. They rejected the process God used in His Bible. They wanted to stick with their system. Come up with an idea or see an event in the world, and search scripture to match what you think is happening. I’d like to see someone prove that method of study from the Bible. I haven’t seen it.

Scripture has to first point to Jesus. If your studying God’s law, Jesus came here from Heaven to explain God’s law. If your studying salvation, go to Jesus who wrote the plan. If you want to learn the truth about prophecy, talk to the One who told His prophets what to record. It’s as simple as that. The only place to go is to Jesus. There is no other way.

You have to have a real relationship with Jesus. Who is Jesus going to reveal prophecies to? People He personally knows and communicates with on a daily basis, or a stranger? The answer is obvious. Jesus illustrated that point in this story. Those religious leaders didn’t believe Jesus could heal. They didn’t understand God’s law. And they certainly couldn’t see how scripture was being fulfilled in front of their eyes. The same will be true when Jesus returns. “No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.”

Jesus made it clear, if you don’t believe what John wrote about Jesus, it is going to be really difficult to believe in Jesus. It will also be difficult to believe the gospels if you don’t know what Moses wrote about Jesus. “But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” Jesus went past what He wanted the Jewish leaders to understand. They had an advantage we don’t. They witnessed the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. But Jesus knew how it was going to turn out. That’s why He told them, He didn’t need their testimony. We don’t have much of an excuse not to understand because we have the Old Testament, the New Testament, and God gave us time and the ability to study. We have books, computers, and phones we can study on. It seems this world is running out of excuses.

Jesus Teaches About Relationships: The Gospel of Mark Chapters 9 - 16

Mark 13:24-27 Sun Will Be Darkened

Mark 13:24-27 NLTse “At that time, after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, (25) the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. (26) Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. (27) And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world–from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.

The disciples asked Jesus when the temple will be completely demolished. Instead of answering their question, Jesus warned them about false Messiahs to come. Which was nothing new. Many already came claiming to be the Messiah. Everyone expected others to follow.

Next Jesus warned the disciples about wars between nations and kingdoms. Still there was nothing new the disciples heard. Jesus included warnings about earthquakes and famines. Earthquakes were rare, famines seemed to come almost every generation. The question still remained, when will the temple be demolished?

At this point Jesus was a little concerned. The disciples asked questions about a stone temple, but nothing about what counties and kingdoms will be at war, and where will earthquakes and famines occur? Showing more concern for a pile of stones that for people showed Jesus He had a lot more to teach the disciples in the little time remaining.

Jesus told the disciples they needed to watch out! He told His disciples they would be beaten in the synagogues, handed over to stand trial in front of kings and governors because they chose to follow Jesus. He told them not to worry about these threats because it was in fact an opportunity to tell them about Jesus. “For the Good News must first be preached to all nations.” Jesus wanted His disciples to know a lot of the battle would be personal. Entire governments would be against His disciples and the message they carried. Jesus led to this point so they would not forget the object lesson. Jesus did not want them spreading their own message, but the message the Spirit gave them to deliver. Jesus told them, “when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus Teaches About Relationships: The Gospel of Mark Chapters 9 - 16
Jesus Teaches About Relationships: The Gospel of Mark Chapters 9 – 16. Now you can download the eBook direct from the author.

It was a personal message with power to unite families. “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6 NLTse). Jesus warned the enemy would come between brothers, parents and their children. Satan will attack the family structure wherever he could. As the disciples listened they looked at one another still waiting for the answer they were waiting for. When will the temple be destroyed? It seemed Jesus covered every subject except for the one they were interested in. Finally Jesus talked about something related to the temple. Jesus told them about, “The day when you will see the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing where he should not be.” The disciples knew Jesus was referring to scripture in Daniel. They know this was one of the major study methods Jesus used to teach, sending them back to the prophets. Some of the disciples began to think this must be why Jesus was not answering the question about the temple’s destruction. He wanted them to find the answer in scripture. They would have to listen closely for other clues.

Jesus’ clues began to make sense. There seemed to be a pattern forming. After talking about the temple walls being dismantled, He warned about false Messiahs. Only a few disciples noticed He returned to the same warning shortly after pointing them to Daniel’s comments about the desecration standing in the temple. This may explain one of the questions; Jesus used not only one, but a series of examples related to fleeing. They wondered what theses people were fleeing from. Maybe they were fleeing wars Jesus mentioned earlier.

Just when everything seemed confusing, Jesus began telling them about signs no one could miss. “At that time, after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” How could anyone miss a series of signs using the sun moon? Not to mention stars falling from the sky. The disciples now understood how important the message is. Based on what they heard that evening, it seemed people would not listen to the message, so God will send signs difficult to miss and deny. Realizing God would be there to help them deliver the message gave each of the disciples a warm feeling inside. Jesus looked at their faces while thinking about the end. He knew the message would be ignored, distorted, forgotten, ridiculed, denied, and missed by the majority of the world. Jesus knew how Satan would use divisions to work against His followers to hide the simple message. While His eyes swelled with tears and His heart ached in His chest, Jesus finished His story. “Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory. And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world–from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.” Jesus knew so many would be left behind forever.


 

Jesus looked at the confused faces around Him. This was the first time they heard about His return associated with the end of the world. Popular belief taught the Messiah’s arrival marked a new beginning. It did, but not in this world, not right away. The Messiah’s Kingdom in this world would be established much later. His Kingdom must first be established in Heaven. This was one of the major mistakes the priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees made. All of their interpretations began and focused on earth. They had no desire to look to Heaven, where all events originated. God’s plan of salvation and all its major events begin in Heaven. This was part of the message Jesus was teaching.

Looking into the future, Jesus knew religious leaders would go back to personal interpretations much like Israel constantly returned to pagan gods they were told to vanquish from the promised land. Jesus knew they would return to their beliefs salvation and events leading to the Messiah’s return originated on earth. Jesus knew much of the world would never hear the message because His followers would forget how to listen, read, and understand. Jesus knew the fate of the world was in the hands and voices of the twelve in front of Him, and one of them was about to betray Him.

The Tabernacle, Temple, and Sanctuary: Revelation

Back In Heaven Revelation 14

Revelation 14:1-5 NLTse (1) Then I saw the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. (2) And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of mighty ocean waves or the rolling of loud thunder. It was like the sound of many harpists playing together. (3) This great choir sang a wonderful new song in front of the throne of God and before the four living beings and the twenty-four elders. No one could learn this song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. (4) They have kept themselves as pure as virgins, following the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been purchased from among the people on the earth as a special offering to God and to the Lamb. (5) They have told no lies; they are without blame.

As soon as John saw a vision of the world and those beasts, God immediately switched the scene back to Heaven. What a contrast between Revelation chapter 13 and 14. Which is in fact another rule God used in scripture, contrasts. Contracts may be one of the most difficult things for people to see, but they are used throughout the Bible. In this case, the previous chapter ended with the mark of the beast, while chapter 14 begins with the Lamb standing on Mount Zion. The previous chapter showed visions originating on earth, and from the earth. John is then taken to a vision of 144,000 with His Father’s name in their foreheads. If that isn’t a contrast, I don’t know what one is.

The Tabernacle, Temple, and Sanctuary: Revelation
The Tabernacle, Temple, and Sanctuary: Revelation Now you can purchase this eBook direct from the author

The first word in chapter 14 pointed us back to the previous chapter. The word, “then,” tells us, we can’t hope to understand this chapter unless we review the previous chapter. As soon as we do, there is no mistake, John is shown a series of contrasts.

Angels don’t have trouble seeing contrasts. They see them everyday. They see the splendor and peace in Heaven, then they look at this world to see what is going on. In this world, angels see people running around trying to solve problems. In Heaven, there are no problems. That leaves plenty of time to praise God. There is a lesson there we should pay attention to.

People also waste a lot of time trying to explain what the number 144,000 is, and who those people actually are. Is it a literal or symbolic number? As usual, people go to the world for answers. I don’t know any two numbers in the Bible that have received more attention than the numbers 666 and 144,000. The Bible shows those numbers are a contrast. 666 points us to the rule of repetition. Comparing the number 666 found at the end of chapter 13 to the number 144,000 at the beginning of chapter 14, tells us to use the rule of contracts.

The rule of contracts is an extension of the rule of repetition. Words can be the same, similar, related, or contracts. Contracts have something in common with other related words.

It is relatively simple to see contrasts on the surface between Revelation chapter 13 and 14. Chapter 13 is all about this world, is viewed from this world, and takes place in this world. Revelation 14 suddenly shifted to Heaven, a good place to split John’s letter into a new chapter. Beginning a new chapter does not mean it is no longer related to the previous chapter. John wrote one long letter that was broken into chapters generations later.

We also need the end of chapter 12 to show us who those beasts on Revelation 13 follow, the devil. It is evident who the 144,000 in chapter 14 follow, the Lamb, used to symbolize Christ. That is one of the most vivid contracts in the Bible. The mark of the beast and seal of God is another contrast. It seems rather strange when we look at the Christian world to see which one receives more attention. By far, the mark of the beast receives much more attention, has more people teaching about that mark and beast, has more radio programs, Internet videos, TV shows, and sells more books. If you searched the mark of the beast or 666 on the Internet, you would find thousands of links, some having hundreds of thousands of viewers visiting the site. Now we know what John meant when he wrote, “And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life before the world was made–the Book that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered.” (Revelation 13:8 NLTse).


 

We have one group that worships God in Heaven, and another group dedicated to hunting down people like that and killing them. The contrasts we are given are designed to examine is a war.

It’s not by mistake or chance Jesus used music and song as a symbol here. Music contains both order and repetition. John tells us, “No one could learn this song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.” Music and song are a contrast to words coming from the beast, and his barbaric, warlike features.”Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months. And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and his temple–that is, those who live in heaven. And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation.” (Revelation 13:5-7 NLTse).

People learn by repetition. People will either learn those warlike features the beast is teaching, or the song Jesus teaches. Is the number 144,000 symbolic? Is the beast symbolic? Is the song Jesus teaches symbolic?

When we look at the rhythm of the visions John wrote, we can see a distinct pattern of symbols. Instead of using Christ’s name, John introduced Jesus in symbolic form. To complete the pattern, information following the symbol of the Lamb would also be symbolic. That makes Mount Zion, God’s name written in their foreheads, the new song, and the number 144,000 all symbols.

The roar of the waves and thunder are descriptive words adding to the flavor of the scene John is describing.

John’s description of the people who follow Jesus is a contrast to the people following the beast. Jesus’ followers are compared to virgins. Satan’s followers build monuments to the beast, which is a form of spiritual idolatry.

Those who follow Jesus stay close to Him, and have one leader. Those who follow Satan follow a series of beasts and images, a type of prelude to Babylon, meaning confusion. Jesus’ leadership follows the consistency and order of a song. Easy to learn, soothing to the ears., and something difficult to forget once you learn. Songs have a tendency to create a safe haven. A subject covered in previous chapters by examples that included promises directly from Jesus. On the other hand, the devil uses force and broken promises, seen consistently throughout scripture. Other stories show us the way demons possess people, holding them in spiritual chains.

That leads us up to another concept in the introduction to Revelation 14. The term redeemed and purchased is introduced at this point. We see how Jesus had to pay a price for His followers. Remember the story of the woman who poured oil on Jesus’ feet?

You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. “I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:45-48 NLTse).

Those who have been forgiven a lot, are thankful beyond all comprehension. Those who have been forgiven little should be just as thankful. All are a special offering to God and the Lamb.

Another Angel

Revelation 14:6-7 NLTse (6) And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world–to every nation, tribe, language, and people. (7) “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.”

John introduced this angel, some people refer to as the first angle, as another angel. That means, this angel follows another angel. Who was that first angel? A simple search using the word angel in the Book of Revelation shows us who that other angel is.

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: “The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” The twenty-four elders sitting on their thrones before God fell with their faces to the ground and worshiped him. And they said, “We give thanks to you, Lord God, the Almighty, the one who is and who always was, for now you have assumed your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were filled with wrath, but now the time of your wrath has come. It is time to judge the dead and reward your servants the prophets, as well as your holy people, and all who fear your name, from the least to the greatest. It is time to destroy all who have caused destruction on the earth.” Then, in heaven, the Temple of God was opened and the Ark of his covenant could be seen inside the Temple. Lightning flashed, thunder crashed and roared, and there was an earthquake and a terrible hailstorm. (Revelation 11:15-19 NLTse).

John just gave us a time line to deal with. The actual first angel is the seventh angel to blow a trumpet, making a vital announcement, the judgment process began in Heaven. Then John added details about events leading up to the day the judgment process will begin. That leads to a point in time mentioned later in Revelation chapter 14, which is the end of the judgment period. In other words, a short overview of earth;s history from the beginning to the end of the judgment period.

Many people shun the judgment period, even frowning on any study of the judgment period. Other books in the Bible deal with the judgment process in more detail, and a collection of related prophecies tell us the beginning of the judgment period. John explained how the Judgment period began with the Sanctuary doors opening, the Ark is seen, and Jesus in the form of a slain Lamb is before God. All that is pretty basic information. Jesus is the High Priest, one of the main themes explained in the Book of Hebrews.

That is why Christ did not honor himself by assuming he could become High Priest. No, he was chosen by God, who said to him, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.” And in another passage God said to him, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. (Hebrews 5:5-14 NLTse).

Jesus as High Priest is something we are supposed to know and teach. That’s why is seems rather odd to hear and see so many people teaching about the mark of the beast when we see instructions telling us what to teach go ignored.

Looking at this with a view from Heaven, we know angels are close to Jesus. Angels watch His every move. They know what Jesus is working on as well as what Jesus had to go through in Heaven and on earth. Angels and the elders in Heaven seated next to God’s throne are another contrast we can learn from. A subject far more important than studying who the devil is and what he is doing on earth.

The first announcement in Revelation 14 is the beginning of the judgment period. What can we tell the world about the judgment period, the trial in Heaven? The angel who followed the seventh trumpet has a message, the eternal Good News. When you think about is, that is a relatively long message. That message is supposed to go out to the whole world. The question is, has it, and was the right message delivered?

The first angel in Revelation 14 has a direct connection to the angel with the seventh trumpet. Both announcements concern the judgment period. Does the world know it is being judged at this very moment, and your name could come up at any minute? What is gong to happen when your name comes up? Is Jesus going to be able to stand up before His Father and tell God about the relationship you have? Or is Jesus going to have to say, he doesn’t know you? How much have you shared with Jesus, and how much does He know about you? How much do you know about Jesus and His role as High Priest?

Second and Third Angels

Revelation 14:8-13 NLTse (8) Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen–that great city is fallen–because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.” (9) Then a third angel followed them, shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand (10) must drink the wine of God’s anger. It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. (11) The smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever, and they will have no relief day or night, for they have worshiped the beast and his statue and have accepted the mark of his name.” (12) This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying his commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus. (13) And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!”

After the announcement about the beginning of the judgment, another angel followed in what appears to be quick succession, and introduced Babylon as a new symbol. John heard the announcement in his vision, but didn’t see the physical city fall. Based on the study rule of looking back in scripture for an answer, the word immorality points us back to only one place, the dragon in Revelation 12, and the beasts that follow him in Revelation 13. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or theologian with countless degrees and titles to see what side of the war Babylon is on.

The link to consider is the one between the beginning of the judgment period and the city Babylon falling down. Where does that lead us to? Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon–the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world–was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last– salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth– the one who accuses them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:7-10 NLTse).

Satan and his angels were cast down to earth. The city Babylon also fell. Babylon was the first world power identified by Daniel. Babylon was represented by the head of gold on the statue in the dream. What does that tell us when the head falls off? The figure still had arms, legs, and feet, and can still cause damage, but it is an idol showing it cannot think, see, hear, or talk. That is very close to another story in the Bible. But the next morning the same thing happened–Dagon had fallen face down before the Ark of the LORD again. This time his head and hands had broken off and were lying in the doorway. Only the trunk of his body was left intact. (1 Samuel 5:4 NLTse).

Israel misused the Ark and lost it to the Philistines, who had no idea what it was, and treated it like any other battle trophy. The Philistines were smart enough to know a powerful God was inside that Ark, and decided to get rid of the Ark before encoring any more damage. The problem was, not many people in Israel actually understood the Ark.

We see the same problem here in Revelation. People don’t understand the Ark, what it represents, or the judgment process involving the Ark. But God is sending angels with perfect understanding to help us. Jesus’ followers explain the details, but are we doing our job?

The third angel added to the first two messages and expounded on the message Jesus’ followers take out to the world, this time with a warning. The message shows, we can’t understand the warning to the world unless we follow basic Bible Study concepts and look back at that beast and the image he made. Does that mean we are supposed to spend countless hours and money studying and telling people all about that beast , his image, the mark, and what the forehead and hand represent? A warning is a warning. A road sign before a sharp curve tells people to slow down to a safe speed. No one posts a sign explaining all the details about that curve, or what would happen if they didn’t slow down. It would take so long to read, people would miss the warning, or face the danger when it was too late.

Babylon has its wine, and so does God. God has a cup of wrath and anger. Why do you think God is angry? Is it because He gave this world a message about His son, the Son who came to this world to explain the plan of salvation, only to see so many people go crazy over details about the beast, its image, and that mark?

We can see a connection between the second angel’s message and the first. That relationship established a connection between the beast and Babylon. When we look at the second message and apply a simple rule of context, seeing, Babylon is fallen, that great city is fallen, we know the information is repeated for a reason. That is a flag telling us to pray about that detail.

There were two Babylons that fell in the Bible. One was the Babylonian world empire that fell to the Medes and Persians that Daniel wrote about. In that story king Belshazzar had a feast.

Many years later King Belshazzar gave a great feast for 1,000 of his nobles, and he drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking the wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver cups that his predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. He wanted to drink from them with his nobles, his wives, and his concubines. So they brought these gold cups taken from the Temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. While they drank from them they praised their idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. Suddenly, they saw the fingers of a human hand writing on the plaster wall of the king’s palace, near the lampstand. The king himself saw the hand as it wrote, and his face turned pale with fright. His knees knocked together in fear and his legs gave way beneath him. (Daniel 5:1-6 NLTse).

King Belshazzar threw a party, and decided to challenge God by praising all kinds of false gods and idols. He did this while a huge army was camped outside the city gates. It was like saying, “I don’t need you God.” The other fall of Babylon was when it was called Babel.

At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there. They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.” But the LORD came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.” In that way, the LORD scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the LORD confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world. (Genesis 11:1-9 NLTse).

Those people chose to challenge God by building a huge tower just in case God decided to flood the world again. They didn’t believe God’s promise anymore than Belshazzar believed promises God gave to his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar.

What do those stories have in common? People wanted to trust in their own power, wisdom, and judgment. They wanted to live free from God and all His commands. That began in the garden with Adam and Eve. They wanted to go beyond what God gave them, the entire world. Where did all that come from? The devil.

The devil tempted Eve in the garden. The devil tempted Cain when he made his own from of worship. The devil tempted the people in Babel, and those in Babylon. All of Satan’s temptations led people away from God, leading them to a promise Satan made about a better life, free from God’s restraints. People are still making that mistake today.

People want to come up with a better, more powerful, and more interesting worship service. None of those worship services are in the Bible. Enoch didn’t need any of those services to meet with God. Enoch simply met God, and God appreciated the time and effort. Think about that. Isn’t that what we do when we study scripture with God’s Spirit? We are spending time with God outside of this world. Not wasting time inside this world looking for answers the world has to offer.

The penalty for following after that beast is rather sever. The beast as we know goes right back to the devil and his suggestions. People have to choose to honor and worship God in the prescribed way, or follow the world and their altered suggestions. Is there a proper way to worship God, and if there is a wrong way, what is it?

The Bible contains a lot of information about the Levitical laws, how worship and sacrifices were conducted in the Tabernacle. Kings and priests changed the laws given to Moses, added to them, and at times completely ignored them. That brought on Jerusalem’s fall. Finally Jesus came, died, and reintroduced God’s original plan A, the end of the Levitical priesthood on earth with direct communication and worship of God on His holy mountain, a symbol for Heaven.

“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:19-24 NLTse).

How do people worship God through or in the Spirit if they insist on using updated versions of the Levitical priesthood placing someone, a human between themselves and God? It cannot happen that way. It was not what Jesus told that woman was coming.

Jesus died to gain the role of High Priest. We have all been given the role of priest, and there is no middle man here in earth in any way, shape, or form. Worship is worship. On the other hand, collecting and distributing funds for ministries is another issue. That involves organization to a certain degree. The apostles saw a need for organization, but that organized committee never had any control over who would minister, how they would minister, or who they would minister to. That was the role of the Holy Spirit. Any variation on that is a man made concept we have to learn to overcome.

But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” (Acts 6:1-4 NLTse).

The job was not going to be easy. People who lived to follow the Spirit would often die serving the LORD. Jesus followed the Spirit. People accused Him of taking orders from the devil. Jesus had something they didn’t, a direct connection with God’s throne, and religious leaders didn’t like that. There was too much Jesus could and did expose. Religious leaders looked at the situation and two choices. They could either change, accept Jesus, or get Him out of the way. They soon found out they couldn’t challenge Jesus. So they killed Him.

Son of Man

Revelation 14:14-20 NLTse (14) Then I saw a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was someone like the Son of Man. He had a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. (15) Then another angel came from the Temple and shouted to the one sitting on the cloud, “Swing the sickle, for the time of harvest has come; the crop on earth is ripe.” (16) So the one sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the whole earth was harvested. (17) After that, another angel came from the Temple in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. (18) Then another angel, who had power to destroy with fire, came from the altar. He shouted to the angel with the sharp sickle, “Swing your sickle now to gather the clusters of grapes from the vines of the earth, for they are ripe for judgment.” (19) So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and loaded the grapes into the great winepress of God’s wrath. (20) The grapes were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress in a stream about 180 miles long and as high as a horse’s bridle.

For John the scene quickly changed from watching angels flying over the earth with messages to a vision of Jesus, and another angel coming out of the Holy Sanctuary in Heaven. What a dramatic change. What were all those angels thinking when they saw that sudden change? It was easy for angels to relate to the three angels and their messages. Angels can and have seen everything that happens on this planet, and are capable of telling us when things are about to go bad. Angels in Heaven can see Satan and his angels working in the back ground, and at a moments notice, come to this world to warn or save people. That’s been their role for countless generations, and they are more than happy to do it. One word from God and they are here in a flash with powers we cannot imagine.

The question is, why does Jesus have a crown and a sickle? We have to look back at the last time John saw an image of Jesus in Heaven to understand why this scene changed so quickly. Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. (Revelation 5:6-7 NLTse).

John saw a lot happen between Jesus presenting Himself to God, opening the scrolls, and coming out of the Holy Sanctuary wearing His crown. Seven seals were opened. Seven trumpets sounded. The earth was attacked, trampled, Satan and his angels were cast down to earth. John saw Jesus’ birth and persecution. We would have to cover a lot of ground to get a complete story of what happened, and everything that led to it. All of that led up to the judgment, which led to Jesus leaving the Sanctuary, crowned as KING of kings.

John saw Jesus on a cloud. It looked like a cloud. It looked like Jesus needed something to support Him and His throne. Millions of angels were around Jesus. It was one of the most important events in Heaven. Something we all should be looking for, and trying to understand. John’s attention was focused on Heaven, and the scene he saw. All Heaven was present, and knew exactly what that scene meant.

The harvest was ripe. Judgment was finished. The High Priest has left the Sanctuary. Satan was a million miles away wondering this world, knowing his time was short. He had little time to make his last stand, or convince the Universe, his ideas would work. The Universe saw what Satan did to God’s Son, and what Satan would do to them if he was in charge and they refused to fall in line. The Universe witnessed what Satan did to this planet, one of God’s perfect creations. How Satan used leaders, then cast them aside the moment they served their purpose. Fill that leader in with new leader easier to control. Satan was full of greed and knew how to push the right buttons in every human being driven by greed. Violence seemed to be the the only way to resolve issues. Dying was a way of life on this planet, something the angels in Heaven never saw before Cain slew his brother. Angels witnessed one scene after another, each more surprising and horrific than the one before it. Angels saw how leaders chose to kill hundreds of thousands of people to sway the thoughts of one man. Angels saw how none of that effected Satan and how he lost all feelings, all respect for life, and the breath of God.

Now it was time to deal with Satan and his followers. Judgment was finished. Every case has been decided. There are no do overs that this world loves to teach about. No final test or examinations. The last generation in this world will not be treated any differently that any other. All the books, movies, and radio shows in the world will not change the judgment process or a single decision made in Heaven. The courtroom scene is over and the plan of salvation enters its next phase.

The Word was God

This series of books on John’s Gospel are quite unique. John focused on the Holy Spirit working in the back ground throughout Jesus’ ministry. In other words, John’s Gospel is a text book about how the Spirit works in this world as well as our lives. Here is the first chapter from the book. I hope you enjoy it, and there are links to sites that sell both the print book and eBook versions. If you have any questions, let me know. Feel free to leave a comment.

John Chapter 1

John 1:1-51 NLTse In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He existed in the beginning with God. (3) God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. (4) The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. (5) The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (6) God sent a man, John the Baptist, (7) to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. (8) John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. (9) The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. (10) He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. (11) He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. (12) But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (13) They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. (14) So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (15) John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.'” (16) From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. (17) For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. (18) No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. (19) This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” (20) He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.” (21) “Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?” “No,” he replied. “Are you the Prophet we are expecting?” “No.” (22) “Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?” (23) John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the LORD’s coming!'” (24) Then the Pharisees who had been sent (25) asked him, “If you aren’t the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize?” (26) John told them, “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize. (27) Though his ministry follows mine, I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal.” (28) This encounter took place in Bethany, an area east of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing. (29) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (30) He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ (31) I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” (32) Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. (33) I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.‘ (34) I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” (35) The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. (36) As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” (37) When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus. (38) Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” (39) “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day. (40) Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. (41) Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”). (42) Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John–but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”). (43) The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” (44) Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. (45) Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” (46) “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied. (47) As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel–a man of complete integrity.” (48) “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” (49) Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God–the King of Israel!” (50) Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” (51) Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”

The Word was God
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I have to confess, I’ve been looking forward to writing this book on John’s Gospel for some time. John’s book is the most passionate Gospel about Jesus, including a number of chapters about lessons Jesus taught not found in the other three Gospels. Matthew seems to have the most events, which makes writing stories rather easy. Mark unfolded on its own showing two main themes, how Jesus taught to understand all scripture and the relationship Jesus was looking for. Luke had a tendency of skipping over some details while lingering on others. Luke’s book was perfect for showing how God’s Spirit worked behind the scenes to set up every event so Jesus was able to fulfill every prophecy about Himself. Which brought me to one of the biggest surprises I’ve seen in the Bible.

The end of John’s first chapter describes how Jesus was sent to be a connection between Heaven and earth, the perfect description of the book I wrote on Luke’s Gospel showing how God’s Spirit worked throughout Jesus’ ministry. John’s description not only says there is a connection, he says we will see that connection.

       His Word is Light

John 1:1-9 NLTse In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He existed in the beginning with God. (3) God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. (4) The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. (5) The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (6) God sent a man, John the Baptist, (7) to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. (8) John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. (9) The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

I always loved the beginning of John’s book. I wonder how long he thought about the beginning of his book before he sat down, picked up a pen and started writing. I can see how words just flowed for John. Out of the four gospels, John’s is the most poetic. Words and sentences flow like a man writing to his love half way around the world. But in this case, John’s first love is a universe away.

Let’s pause for a moment to estimate that distance between Jesus and John. We can’t estimate that distance in meters or miles. We can’t estimate that time in hours, days, or years. Looking at the other side of the coin, we can’t estimate the closeness they shared until we experience it ourselves. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

(Romans 8:38-39, Psalms 103:1, 1 Corinthians 2:9 NLTse)

If it’s one thing I’ve learned about writing, it really slows you down, allowing you to concentrate on each word, and God’s still, small voice. Highlighting key words also slows you down. Making a list of key words helps to see the main points the author is emphasizing. Let’s look at the list of keys words John gave us up to this point.

Word

Light

Beginning, existed

Created

Life


Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to his main thought, point, or lesson. Key words are words that are the SAME, SIMILAR, or RELATED.

It may take a bit of practice to develop a pattern highlighting key words. I look at it as a fundamental and necessary way for God’s Spirit to slow you down and get you to listen. It’s difficult to thoroughly highlight all the key words in one pass. You have no choice but to go back and forth over scripture to do a complete job. Many people have heard of other texts in the Bible that show us how to study, such as line upon line, and using a churning method of going back and forth over scripture. Now you know what that means.


The Word was God
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The key words John repeated paint a picture all their own. We have a saying here on earth, “a man is known by his words and actions.” John covered both those aspects at the very beginning of his book. He also covered another aspect of Jesus he had to learn, Jesus’ divinity. Jesus lives in a different time as well as place.

John tells us, the Word is God and existed in the beginning. What beginning? John described the beginning as creation. John also pointed out how God created everything through Jesus. What does it mean to create everything through Jesus? I’m not going to speculate. Writing on the gospels has also taught me, there are some things we have to leave in God’s hands.

God’s Word gave life. We could go on and on about that. But we will stick with the context of this book and not wander away from John’s written words and main theme he is trying to convey. I am sure we are going to see that life unfold as we go through John’s book.

John tells us, Jesus’ life brought light to everyone and His Word gave life to everything. This is a reference to creation as well as Jesus’ ministry. One story could not have been fulfilled without the other. That’s why it’s important to study Jesus’ ministry as a whole. John pointed out that ministry began before creation. Maybe that’s why it’s difficult for people to comprehend Jesus as a person, friend, and all the other things He wants out of our relationship together. How can normal human beings tie in all the aspects of God’s Word, light, and life? They can’t. Not without God. Anyone whose listened to God through His Word will know, many of the most important aspects of those three are difficult if not impossible to explain. It seems strange to be in God’s Word, in His presence to see details that seem so simple to understand, but a minute later feel impossible to explain. That’s another one of those mysteries of God’s Word. Some things are better left to God’s Spirit to explain. Only God’s personal light can piece that darkness. If there was an easier way, Jesus would not have had to come here in person to feel the heat, cold, pain, suffering, ridicule, and temptations of this world. Of course Jesus came to this world to accomplish much more than face temptation. That is one aspect on the surface of Jesus’ life. Once you know Him, you will see much more about His ministry.

In addition to His Word, God works through other avenues of communication. John introduced one of those in the introduction, His messengers. John the Baptist was one of them. John not only introduced Jesus’ ministry, he also confirmed God’s Word. That’s one of the ways God communicates with us. Did that ever happen to you? There you are reading God’s Word, then suddenly see a lesson or detail that seems so clear and makes so much sense, you wonder why you never saw it before. Your excited, but not sure how other people will accept it. How does God get around that problem? If He showed you the lesson in His Word three times, your still not going to be convinced it is something to share. God goes to plan B. He puts someone in your life you meet during the week who studied the same subject. You begin talking and can’t believe your not the only person to see those details. Has that ever happened to you? If you start studying, it will.

There is another rule of context we need to look at. That rule tells us to look back in scripture to see how the Author led into this story. This rule also works with chapters. You might ask how could that work at the beginning of a book? Don’t forget who actually wrote these books in the Bible. It was God!Human hands may have put pen to paper, but John told us how God’s Word existed before the creation of this world.