Book of Revelation

Business and management writer Peter Druck said, “Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.”

Patmos is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea, most famous for being the location of both the vision of and the writing of the Christian Bible’s Book of Revelation. One of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex, it has a population of 2,998 and an area of 13.15 sq mi (34.05 km). The highest point is Profitis Ilias, 883 feet (269 m) above sea level. The Municipality of Patmos, which includes the offshore islands of Arkoi (pop. 44), Marathos (pop. 5), and several uninhabited islets, has a total population of 3,047 (2011 census) and a combined land area of 17.390 sq mi (45.039 sq km). It is part of the Kalymnos regional unit. Patmos’ main communities are Chora (the capital city), and Skala, the only commercial port. Other settlements are Grikou and Kampos. The churches and communities on Patmos are of the Eastern Orthodox tradition. The current mayor of Patmos is Grigoris Kamposos.

None of us knows what tomorrow holds, but the Lord Jesus Christ, Alpha and Omega, knows the end from the beginning, and in the book of Revelation He tells how history will conclude.

It’s true that Revelation is full of apocalyptic visions, but the very title of the book implies God wants to reveal His plans to us.

A special blessing is promised those who study this book, and without it our lives would be incomplete.

The apostle John received Revelation while exiled on the Island of Patmos. The immediate recipients were seven churches in Asia Minor.

After an opening introduction in chapter 1, and exhortations to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3, the writer launched  into chapter after chapter of vivid descriptions of the events of the Great Tribulation, leading to the dramatic moment of Christ’s return in chapter 19 and a tour of our eternal home at the end of the book.

The book of Revelation tells us that regardless of what happens in life – no matter how depressing the news or difficult the times – life in Christ has a happy ending for those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, who pray: Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Key Thought:

God has a plan for the future and for eternity. Regardless of what happens in life, no matter how depressing or difficult the news, life in Christ has a happy ending for those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Key Verse:

“And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him” (Rev 22:3).

Key Action:

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17).

 

Book of Jude

Tyre was founded around 2750 B.C. according to Herodotus and was originally built as a walled city upon the mainland.
Phoenicians from Tyre settled in houses around Memphis, south of the temple of Hephaestus in a district called the Tyrian Camp.
Tyre’s name appears on monuments as early as 1300 B.C. In Jesus’s time the city was particularly known for the production of a rare and extraordinarily expensive sort of purple dye, produced from the murex shellfish, known as Tyrian purple (Acts 16:14).
This color was, in many cultures of ancient times, reserved for the use of royalty, or at least nobility. Jesus visited the region of Tyre and Sidon and healed a Gentile (Matt 15:21; Mk 7:24) and from this region many came forth to hear him preaching (Mk 3:8; Lk 6:17, Matt 11:21–23).
A congregation was founded here soon after the death of Saint Stephen, and Paul the Apostle, on his return from his third missionary journey, spent a week in conversation with the disciples there.

A recent book about backpacking in Canada warns us to purchase accurate maps before hiking in remote areas. Several travelers have died by following hastily printed maps with erroneous data.

Doctrine is the roadmap of life, and the New Testament writers vigorously warned against following faulty teachers. The tragedy of such heresy is the theme of the small book of Jude.

Jude grew up in the carpenter’s family of Joseph and Mary. He was the half-brother of the Lord Jesus. He became a leader in the early church and apparently wanted to write a book about what he called “our common salvation.”

But the spread of false doctrine caused him to change subject matter and appeal to God’s people to stay alert, to contend for the truth, and to keep themselves spiritually and theologically strong.

This brief letter divides into three parts.

  • The first section exhorts God’s people to contend for the faith.
  • The second section warns against destructive teachers.
  • The final part urges us to stand firm in truth and love.

According to Jude, we’re to explain and defend the Gospel as best we can while humbly rooted in the knowledge, love, and practice of the truth.

In today’s world, heresy spreads with the click of a button or the turn of a knob. We must follow Jude’s call to be built up in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and to contend earnestly for the integrity of the faith entrusted to the saints.

Key Thought:

God’s people must defend the doctrines of the faith by preserving biblical truth, battling heresy, and humbly standing up for the Good News.

Key Verses:

“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 1:20-21).

Key Action:

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).

Today it is the fourth largest city in Lebanon and houses one of the nation’s major ports. Tourism is a major industry. The city has a number of ancient sites, including its Roman Hippodrome.

Book of 3 John

Damascus is where Paul was going to persecute Christians when Jesus spoke to him (Acts 9). Today it is the capital and the second-largest city of Syria after Aleppo prior to the civil war. It is now most likely the largest city of Syria, due to the decline of Aleppo because of the ongoing battle for the city. It is commonly known in Syria as ash-Sham and nicknamed as the City of Jasmine.

Dr. A. W. Tozer pointed out that a hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork will automatically be tuned to each other.

In the same way when each of God’s workers is tuned to Christ we’ll be in harmony with one another. But beware the discordant note.

One of the joys of being a pastor, as I’ve been for many years, is watching how harmoniously God’s people labor side-by-side for His kingdom.

One of my sorrows is seeing how one person with a personal agenda, jealous spirit, or harsh personality, can disrupt the work.

The apostle John faced the same thing as he wrote 3 John. He expressed gratitude for those working alongside his friend Gaius, and he encouraged them to show continued hospitality toward traveling workers.

But John expressed dismay at one man,

Diotrephes, who loved attention, sowed discord, and turned away John’s emissaries.

This short letter, small enough to be written on a single parchment, tells us that those who selflessly support the Lord’s work are to be commended, but those serving Satan’s agenda, particularly if they infiltrate the church, must be confronted.

In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major cultural and religious center of the Levant. The city has an estimated population of 1,711,000 as of 2009. Doesn’t look bad here from a distance, and even up close, but then again…

God wants you to be a Gaius, not a Diotrephes. Maybe He doesn’t intend for you to preach before an entire congregation, but He wants you to support those who do.

We each have a place in God’s work; and as we labor in harmony and mutual support, we’re walking in truth, and that brings joy to the whole church.

Key Thought:

Those who selflessly support the Lord’s cause are to be commended; those who don’t must be confronted.

Key Verses:

“For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 Jn 1:3-4).

One of the rare periods the Barada river is high, seen here next to the Four Seasons hotel in downtown Damascus

Key Action:

Diligently encourage God’s work and show hospitality to His workers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book of 2 John

Khirbat Karraza was a Jewish town known as Chorazin in the 1st century C.E.
The town was partially destroyed in the 4th century, possibly as a result of an earthquake.
Khirbat Karraza was populated by the Zanghariyya Bedouin tribe and the village contained a shrine for a local Muslim saint, al-Shaykh Ramadan.
The villagers used to store grain close to the shrine, certain that nobody would steal it and thereby violate the sanctity of the shrine.

A strange thing has happened to the concept of “tolerance.” It once meant we accepted the fact other people had a right to their own views, even if those views were different from ours, and even if they were wrong. But culture now defines tolerance as accepting all other views as being equally valid to our own.

The Bible proclaims an objective truth and an exclusive Gospel. As a result, Christians are sometimes accused of being unloving and intolerant. The message of 2 John is: We should love one other deeply, but we cannot tolerate error and evil in our homes or churches.

John addressed this short note to a woman and her children, which metaphorically may indicate a church and its members. He reminded them of the command, both old and new, to love one another. But in plain language he also warned his readers to reject the false teachers who were traveling about.

Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge Christ as coming in the flesh, John said, is a deceiver and an antichrist. We mustn’t accept such people, he wrote,

“For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 Jn 1:11).

What a vital balance! We’re to be loving, but discerning. Every day we come face-to-face with a world God loves; but we also daily encounter a world in which we must stand for the truth. Only John could have articulated such a delicate balance, and only 2 John explains it so concisely and plainly.

Key Thought:

Khirbat Karraza was a Palestinian Arab village in the Safad Subdistrict.
It was depopulated during the 1947–1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine on May 4, 1948 by the Palmach’s First Battalion of Operation Yiftach.
It was located 5.2 miles (8.5 km) southeast of Safad.

While we must love one another deeply, we cannot tolerate error and evil in our churches.

Key Verse:

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” (2 Jn 1:9).

Key Action:

“Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward” (2 Jn 1:8). 

Book of 1 John

Chorazin was an ancient village in northern Galilee, 2½ miles (4 km) from Capernaum on a hill above the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Chorazin is now the site of a National Archaeological Park. Extensive excavations and a survey were carried out in 1962-1964. Excavations at the site were resumed in 1980-1987.
The site is an excavated ruin today, but was inhabited starting in the 1st century. It is associated with modern-day Kerazeh.

In a world of complexity, people crave simplicity.  Retailers use simple slogans to sell us products, and the best teachers make complicated issues as simple as ABC.

Steve Jobs, cofounder of Apple Computers, said, “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean, to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there you can move mountains.”

That describes 1 John. It’s deep as the ocean, yet simple enough for anyone to read with benefit. John didn’t write in a linear way, so his book is hard to outline. But its circular style corresponds to the way we live and learn.

John emphasized a number of subjects – love, light, knowledge, life – and kept circling back to them throughout his letter.

He presents Jesus as the Son of God who came in the flesh. Those who reject Him are heretics, antichrists, and liars. Those who receive Him are children of light with assurance of everlasting life. It’s as simple as that, and as certain.

The purpose of 1 John is stated at the end of the letter:

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 Jn 5:13).

The majority of the structures are made from black basalt, a volcanic rock found locally.
The main settlement dates to the 3rd and 4th centuries. A mikvah, or ritual bath, was also found at the site. The handful of olive millstones used in olive oil extraction found suggest a reliance on the olive for economic purposes, like a number of other villages in ancient Galilee.

Christian living isn’t easy, but it is simple and certain – a matter of staying in the light, walking with Jesus, confessing sins, loving others, and knowing we have eternal life. That’s the wonderful message of 1 John.

Key Thought:

Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh. Those who reject Him have the spirit of antichrist. Those who receive Him are children of light with the assurance of everlasting life.

Key Verse:

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 Jn 5:13).

Key Action:

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 Jn 3:16).