A Money Question

round tableI was at a local business group lunch and sat at a table with two men who run a dance club and another who works with a service agency.  When I said what I do, it led to a few interesting questions about Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and money at the end of the world.  The question was, “Doesn’t the Bible say that money will someday be worthless?”

So I looked up what it says in the book of Revelation about what happens to money at the end of the world.  There are two relevant passages

Revelation 13:11-17 11 Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. (NIV)

This passage speaks of a time where a political and religious combination of power will result and all use of money will be limited to those who receive “the mark of the beast.”  This has led to lots of speculation about credit cards, tattoos and implanted electronic devices.  Conspiracy theory stuff that is just slightly scary considering what technology is capable of – just watch a police show and see how they can track you by your cell phone, credit, debit card and car gps device.

Revelation 18:11-17 – 

11 “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.

14 “They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ 15 The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn 16 and cry out:

“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
    dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet,
    and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
17 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’  (NIV)

This passage is about Babylon.  This is a Biblical symbol of rampant materialism and a twisted morality that places money and pleasure over truth.  Just before the end of all things, this system will fall.  The passage is the lament of all those who were rich and successful in that system.

So watch out for the “mark of the beast” (Rev 13) and the “whore of Babylon” (Rev 18).  A less apocalyptic piece of wisdom is from the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)

Matthew 6:17-19 – 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  (NIV)

Pick a Book – some preaching on Revelation 20

Books of Judgment:

Then some books are opened. First there are the record books.  Every person is then judged by their actions.  God keeps a record of our words and our actions.  It says two times that the dead are judged by what they had done as it is recorded in the books.

Many people are confident that they are good. They think God will measure our lives and say that we are ok.

One teacher said that as the record of our deeds are read out, that our good and our bad are put on a balance. If we measure good, we get heaven. If we measure out bad, we get hell.

But that idea is not in the bible.  The bible only says that we are condemned by our works. We already know what is in this book of records.

Romans 3:23  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

The verdict for every person will be:  GUILTY

What do you think God has written down for you?

There is enough sin in every person go convict us.

The Book of Life:

The good news is that there is another book.  The book of the records of our lives only gives bad news.

The other book has good news.   It is called the Book of Life.

It contains Names.  It does not contain our sins or our good deeds. It has names.  It is simple how it works.  If your name is written in the book of life, you will be forgiven of your sins and given life.

If your name is not written in this book, then you have to take the punishment for your sins.  Here is what Revelation says about that:  “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Our sins then would condemn us to the fire with the Dragon and the 2 beasts.

The Book of Life is mentioned through the bible.

Moses offered to remove his name from the book of Life if God would forgive the sins of Israel – God said that he would not do that.  Moses could not trade his life for theirs.  [Exodus 32]

Daniel the prophet spoke of the book of life that would be revealed in the last days.

Jesus spoke of the book of life in Luke 10 – He said to his followers that they should not be proud of what good works they did for the Lord, He said, “…but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  [Luke 10:17-20]

Paul speaks of the book of life.  [Philippians 4:3]

And it is mentioned 5 times in the book of Revelation.  [3:5; 13:8; 20:12-15; 21:27]   The last time it says

”Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”  Revelation 21:27

So the most important question is this.  Who gets their name written in the Book of Life.

The clue is that it is called the Lamb’s book of life.  This is the book of all those who’s sins were paid by the Lamb of God.  Jesus offered his life in exchange for ours.  Moses tried to do that, but God did not accept Moses offer.  But when Jesus gave is body over to death for us, he became our substitute.

The only way to be in the book of life is to receive Jesus, the lamb of God, by faith.

Have you done that?  Before we go to take communion, I want to pray.  If you know that you belong to him, thank God for the gift of forgiveness.

If you don’t, I invite you to ask for his forgiveness.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, you are the Lamb of God.  I confess my sins.  My sins are written in your book. By these sins I deserve death.   Forgive me  in Jesus name.  Erase from your book all of my sins.  Come into my heart.  Include my name in the book of Life.  Amen.

Revelation Challenge: What do we keep?

The “blessing” is in reading, hearing and keeping the words of Revelation. (1:3) In what sense can we keep this book?

We can keep in mind the challenges of the struggle, the call to bear witness, the need to persevere and so forth.  There are a number of direct challenges to the reader. The attached worksheet is for an adult class, the idea is to collect these and see what we find that we can keep.

6.Final Class

Revelation 12 – Variations on a Theme

From a class worksheet on how various viewpoints view Revelation 12.  However, one popular “futurist” made at least 3 contemporary applications of Revelation 12 to believers today.  Go figgure!

How To Read Revelation

1.  “PreteritView (means “past tense”)  holds that all the events of Revelation have to do with the time from about 90 AD to 135 when Jerusalem was destroyed.

 

2.  Historical View – this sees that the 7 churches and the other 7’s (Seals, Trumpets, Bowls, Visions) cover the whole history of the church from the time of John until the end of time.  These “7’s” basically repeat the same time period from a different perspective.  This is usually associated with the Amillennial position, which says that the Millennium (Revelation 20) is a symbol of the Church age.

 

3.  Futurist View – this holds that everything from chapter 4 to 22 has to do with the future.  Specifically it all has to do with the Great Tribulation, which is the 7 year period of the Anti-Christ.  The first half of which (3 ½ years or 42 months or 1260 days) is peaceful, but the second half is the time of persecution and wrath.  This is generally held by the Dispensational Position (e.g. Schofield Bible, Dallas Seminary, Moody Bible Inst., Hal Lindsey, John Hagee, “Left Behind” books.)  This is the most popular Evangelical position.  It sees that the church is not present in these times, but has been raptured to heaven.  Generally the seals, trumpets and bowls as well as the other visions are seen as going in chronological order, end to end from Chapter 4 to 22.

 

4.  Idealist View – This view holds that the visions are mostly symbolic.  They do not have specific historical fulfillments, but express symbolically the themes that all Christians face such as the need to persevere, the victory of Christ, persecution and judgment.

 

5.  Hybrid Positions

  • Historical Premillennial – in this view some of Revelation 4 to 22 pertains to the church age.  Some hold that the church is raptured part way through the 7 years (Mid Tribulation, or Pre Wrath). Others hold that the church is preserved through the tribulation but dues not experience God’s wrath, only the persecution of Men.  Generally the Seals, Trumpets and Bowls are seen as progressing to the last days, but that they overlap.
  • Some of This and some of That;  Some commentators see that there may have been an initial fulfillment in the day of the early church, and during the church age but that there will be a final fulfillment in the last days.  Nero, Domitian and other persecutors act like previews of a later and greater period of trouble.

 

Applied to Revelation 12

 

1. The persecution under Rome in 70 and 135 are described in vivid terms.

2.  The persecution of Israel and the Church is described in symbolic terms.

3.  This is the story of Israel.  Verse 1-5 have to do with the Birth of the Messiah to Israel, and the rest are the events of the Great Tribulation, with Israel, the Dragon and the tribulation believers described in the events.  I.e. v. 6 to 12 is in the future.

4 and 5.    this is the story of Israel (up to v. 5) and the church from the time of John down to the Return of Christ.  Satan first tried to destroy Christ, then his church.

Diced & Defined or Read & Received – Revelation

I admit it.  those charts about Revelation leave me cold.  Those, “what exactly is this?’ and “how do these fit together on a time line?” questions are unanswerable.  If this was that John meant to tell us, he did not do a good job.  Just pick up 3 commetators at random and read from any part of Revelation and see that they will not agree.

Is there something wrong with the Dice & Define approach.  That is, where we dice up the book into its various parts and then set out to define (Is that Nero, Domitian or the Devil?) each part.

The Blessing is for Reading and Receiving this book (1:3).  There is only one possible place where there is some kind of puzzle – after speaking of “666” it says, “let the reader understand.” (Rev. 13:18).  Again, lots of luck with finding 3 commentators that agree on the meaning of that.  I am quite sure that having a license plate with 666 or finding it in your address will not be the issue.

Better to read Revelation as a whole and receive the charge it contains: persevere, be on watch for the deception of evil, embrace the future victory, more is going on that what we see, Christ is Lord, make sure you are in “the Lambs book of life.”  Evil has a repetitive quality, the bad guy might be a little of Nero and a lot of Anti Christ, but they share the same outline and methods.

Read it out loud. Repeat as necessary.