Categories
Revelation

Sealed for God on the forehead?

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”

Revelation 7:1-3

Why and how are God’s servants sealed with God’s seal and why on their foreheads?

When reading Revelation we should remember that we are dealing with Apocalyptic literature and the images and numbers should be understood symbolically, not literally.  

The vision is of four mighty angels holding back destructive winds.  The winds, or if you prefer the winds of woe*, are the seals of Revelation Ch. 6.

They are the winds of hardship, war, persecution, famine and ultimately of God’s final judgment (cf. Revelation 6:12-17) which will blow on the earth.

But the mighty angels are holding them back.

Categories
Missions

Why is the Great Commission so great?

Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-19, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”

Jesus’ claim to have ALL authority in the entire universe is the basis for his command to make disciples of ALL nations.

This is extremely important.

If Jesus only has some authority, he could only call for the allegiance of some people.

If Jesus only has some authority, and Mohammed some authority, and Krishna some authority, and the Buddha some authority; it would be feasibly and appropriate for Christians to worship Jesus, Muslims to worship Allah, Hindus to worship Krishna, and Buddhists to worship Buddha.

Similarly, if Jesus only has authority over the Middle East, he could only call Middle Eastern people to follow him.

Or if Jesus only has authority over Europe, he can only call Europeans to follow him.  

Or imagine that Jesus only has authority over the mountains, he could only call people living in mountainous regions to follow him.

Categories
Pandemic

What is the Mark of the Beast? (Clue: not Covid-19 vaccine)

Revelation 13:11-18 has caused much speculation over the years.

11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

I think William Hendriksen gives by far the best explanation in his outstanding commentary on the book of Revelation, More Than Conquerors.

Categories
Christian living

10 questions for 2021

J.C. Ryle in his book Practical Religion (first published in 1878) encourages his readers to examine their spiritual lives by asking themselves 10 probing questions. The questions are as relevant today as we too live in an age of great spiritual privilege and great spiritual danger.

Categories
Racism

We don’t always need to talk about race

Many people, including Christians, seem to be obsessed with race and racial categories.

Rather than learning from the past, we seem to be re-emphasizing the old racial categories in a new way.

Surely we can do better?