Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Roseann Salanitro: Blessings Not Realized

       Roseann Salanitro in her column today on The Daily Rant explains in detail why it is important to read and understand the Book of Revelation.  I believe we need to take this advice to heart.  Times are coming when we will do well to know the God of the Bible and the words of His Book.

Blessings not Realized

It is widely believed that the Book of Revelation is confusing, not understandable, and divisive. As a result, it is seldom taught from America’s pulpits. It should be noted that prophecies account for nearly one third of the Bible. Therefore, disregarding prophecies yet to be fulfilled is truly a disservice to believers who are admonished to know the entirety of the Bible.
This begs two questions:
  1. Why has God devoted so much of His Word to something we are told we cannot understand or is confusing? And more importantly,
  2. Why had God promised blessings for those who study these prophecies if they cannot be understood?
Chapter 1, verse 3 of Revelation states:
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy,
and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
This blessing is repeated in Rev. 22:7, which states:
…Blessed is he who keeps the words of this prophecy of this book.
So let me reframe the question: If God promises blessings for reading and hearing the words of the prophecies in Revelation, why don’t we study the Book and why do we perceive it only as a Book that strikes terror in the hearts of its readers instead of the blessings it promises?
While Revelation does speak about the tribulation of the last days, there is more to it than doom and gloom. It is also a book of hope and a book that calls us to repentance. With that hope and repentance, comes many blessings.
At a time when we are seeing prophecies unfold before our very eyes, such as the great apostasy[i], signs in the moon[ii] and the sun[iii], the foretold increase in earthquakes[iv], as well as the increase in knowledge[v] and the running to and fro, all we seem to understand are the terrors of the times as prophesized.
What we don’t see are the blessings – perhaps because we fail to understand that the unfolding of these prophecies are calling us to repentance, as Jonathan Cahn provocatively illustrates in his book “The Harbinger.” First and foremost among the blessings of Revelation are understanding at a spiritual and intellectual level that God is who He says He. At this level we learn about the justice of God as well as His mercy. This is why the Book is known as The Revelation of Jesus Christ. In a world where it is strongly inferred in the classroom that science proves that God is nothing more than a myth, seeing His prophecies that were made 2000 years ago come alive in our lifetime should be providing proof of His existence, proof that evolution should be having a hard time refuting – if our students knew and were taught about the prophecies.
When teaching classes for young adults, I always ask how do you know God is who He says He is? Most students will answer because of the Bible. I follow up with how do we know that God isn’t lying when He tells us He doesn’t lie? Again, the answer is usually the same: the Bible. Here’s the point: We can trust that God doesn’t lie because of the fulfillment of prophecies. I go on to explain that we humans can’t accurately predict what we will be doing at an exact time tomorrow but God can tell us with 100% accuracy what will happen at various points well into the future. There are hundreds of prophecies about the life of Christ alone that all came true in His lifetime. In short, it is the accurate fulfillment of prophecies that sets God apart from other worshipped false deities throughout history. If we can trust God in all these things, we also trust Him in other things and we can know that He is real. But we don’t do this and because we don’t do this, we deprive our children and ourselves of knowing that there is no one like our God who can tell the end from the beginning. And we also fail to know, understand and teach that God is real and that we can trust Him, We can trust him and His Word because He has proven it to us time and time again through fulfilled and unfolding prophecies.
Another blessing of the Book would be that recognizing the signs of the times mentioned gives us sufficient warning to prepare for what lies ahead – not only physically but spiritually as well. For those who need to and are motivated to repent by the urgency of the signs prophesized in Revelation, they will surely be blessed in eternity. They will also understand that the Bible teaches we should not be overtaken as by a thief who comes in the night, but that we should be prepared (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4). Being given the opportunity to repent and to be prepared for what is about to come is one of the purposes of prophecy, and if taken seriously, is a blessing.
If you are inspired to study this Book for yourself, put aside all the commentaries you may have read and buy a copy of Strong’s Comprehensive Concordance of the Bible and Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary – two reference books that are indispensible for any true Berean. If you take the time to stop every time you read something symbolic in Revelation and look up similar verses in your Concordance as well as the literal meanings recorded in the lexicons at the back of the Concordance, you will come to understand the many layers and depths of meanings within the verse that you thought you understood but didn’t have a clue. As you weave through the golden threads that run through all of scripture, you will be astounded by the awesomeness of our God. Again, this should be a two-fold process: read the verses with the same symbolism and look up the actual meaning of the word in the Greek and Hebrew lexicons at the end of the Concordance. Since the Book is filled with symbolism, many would think that this may be a daunting task but you will quickly realize that it is a blessing. You will also quickly discover that understanding this Book is more than possible because the Bible explains every piece of symbolism in this apocryphal work. For instance, Rev. 18:21-22 talks about the destruction of the city of Babylon. In verse 22 it says:
The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. And no craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore…
If you look up the word “craftsman”, you will find a remarkable explanation in Zechariah 1:21b, which speaks about the enemies of God’s people and how God would send in “craftsman” to terrify their enemies and rebuild what has been destroyed. Putting this in context, the verse in Revelation is telling us about a time when the city of Babylon is destroyed and no one will be sent to rebuild her. Of course this can be considered just more doom and gloom but when you discover these little gems for yourself, they are faith builders – and faith builders that come at a time when faith will be greatly challenged are blessings. While living in the time known as the Great Tribulation can be more than stressful, knowing that our redemption draws nye may be all the hope some need to get through it all and may find themselves saying: “…even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20b)
[ii] Suggested reading: “Blood Moons” by Pastor Mark Blitz and The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn.

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