Thursday, October 4, 2018

Daily Bible Reading - October 4, 2018

Today's Reading:

Revelation 5

Nehemiah 7:5-8:12

Psalm 100

Listen to the Bible







Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

In Revelation 5, we read about a mysterious book with seven seals - a book (scroll) which (at first) could not be opened. Have you ever wondered about the identity of this book? I certainly did! My wonderings set me on a trail of Bible study. And what I found caused me to understand why John cried when the book couldn't be opened. For the mysterious book of Revelation 5, whose seals are opened in Revelation 6, is the Title Deed to planet Earth. And if it could not be opened, Heaven's dominion upon this lost planet could never have been restored. No wonder John cried at the thought that it couldn't be opened! But, let's start at the beginning...

Revelation 5:1-5 - "And I saw in the right Hand of Him that sat on the Throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in Heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof."
To understand the significance of this book, we first need to understand the concept of dominion. According to the dictionary, "dominion" has two meanings, both of which apply in this context. Dominion means:

1) "sovereignty, control"
2) "the territory of a sovereign or government"

When God created the universe and everything within it, He had total sovereignty by right of Creation. Every part of His creation - including planet earth - was the territory of His loving Government". In other words, Yahweh had an unchallenged dominion.

Under His dominion, all His beautiful creation thrived. There was no sorrow, no suffering, no disease, and no death. Everything lived in perfect harmony and sublime happiness, so long as Yahweh' loving dominion remained. But, when the first seeds of selfishness, rebellion and lust were conceived in Lucifer's (now called Satan) heart, sin was begun (Ezekiel 28:15-17Isaiah 14:12-14), which resulted in death.
James 1:15 "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
God certainly had the right to kill the devil and all who rebelled with him. But much more was at stake than one being's rebellion. The devil had challenged God's Character and His right to have dominion. If Yahweh had immediately destroyed Satan, outward rebellion would have been quelled. But the ability of created beings to love God out of free choice would have been gone. And questions about God's Character would have remained and even deepened in the hearts of His sentient beings.

Why didn't God simply destroy Satan and the rebels and make a fresh start? Getting rid of Satan wouldn't have answered the questions his rebellion had raised about God's right to rule. To explain, perhaps a parable will be helpful:
A medieval king established a loving and good kingdom where his subjects were free and well cared for. Everyone in his kingdom was happy until one day the king's authority was challenged by one rebellious knight.
The knight watched how the people loved the king. He saw how they gave gifts to the king and shouted praises to his rulership in the streets. He began to grow increasingly jealous of the king and coveted the people's adoration. 

"I should be the king!" he told himself. "I deserve to be the king!" He even told himself that he could do a better job of ruling than the king was doing.
"I hate his aweful rules!" the knight rumbled. "Why do we have to gather before his court every seventh day? Why should I report to him about how well my crops are doing and what my serfs are accomplishing? And why should I have to tithe my crops to the king anyway? Why can't I keep all of it for myself?"
In all this, the knight forgot that it was the king who knighted him in the first place. And all of the lands under this knight's leadership had been given to him to lead by the graciousness of the king.
Eventually, the knight's discontent grew to the point that he began to speak his thoughts to others. The knight made insinuations against the king. He claimed that the king's subjects weren't really free because the king had rules which were to be obeyed. Having rules meant the citizens of this realm weren't really free - the knight claimed. The knight also suggested that if the citizens would cast aside the good king's rules and follow the knight's leadership in doing whatever they pleased that they would be much better off.
According to the rebellious knight, no one was really free while he followed anyone else's rules, even the rules of the king. And since the king's promise was that he would provide his people with a "free" realm, implying that the king's government was denying that promise challenged his integrity, his honor, his character.
How should the king address this rebel? On the one hand, the wise king knew that the rebellious knight's claims were false. Freedom isn't the ability to do what you want. Freedom is the power to do what you aught. But if the king destroyed the knight for challenging his authority, was the kingdom really free? No! Additionally, some citizens and fellow knights had begun to think that maybe the rebel knight was right.
So the king sadly allowed the rebel knight to continue. He allowed the knight to demonstrate to everyone in the kingdom how he'd provide them with a "free" government. The king knew, of course, that the knight was wrong. But he also knew that the only way to fully remove the seeds of rebellion from the hearts of his people was to let the knight play out his hand completely. In so doing, the knights suggestions would prove false and the people would come to love and appreciate the king, respecting his rules with a far deeper understanding of their value.

God has done something similar to what the king did int his parable. Remember that the rebels in Eden were not the only ones involved. Millions of angels were watching. (Job 38:7Daniel 7:10) How God handled the rebellion would greatly affect all those angels and eventually all intelligent creation.
Now let's return to the subject of dominion. As Creator, God had the right to rule all that He had created. But Yahweh gave the dominion of planet earth into the charge of Adam and Eve.
Genesis 1:26-28 - “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
The Bible says that the human race was to be God’s chief creation in the Earth. In other words, God appointed Adam (the first man) to be king of the Earth, and Eve his wife was to be queen of the Earth. Adam and Eve were to be God’s representatives, His rulers, in the Earth; as the angels carried out God’s will in Heaven, Adam and Eve were to “have dominion” over the earth, and to “have dominion over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Before God created mankind on Earth, He created angels to function in the Heavenly places. One of these angels—which is actually called a “cherub” (Ezekiel 28:14,16)—was named “Lucifer” (Isaiah 14:12). But, like the rebellious knight in our parable, Lucifer wanted to glorify himself instead of the Yahweh. Lucifer wanted to be “like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14): he wanted to be “possessor of Heaven and earth”(Genesis 14:19,22), and he desired the praise that Yahweh, the Creator, alone deserved. 

With these evil thoughts, Lucifer fell into sin, and was re-named “Satan” (Hebrew for “adversary”). Satan became God’s chief enemy (Ezekiel 28:11-19). Satan began working to pollute Heaven with his sin. Thus, God cast him out of Heaven. Seeking a place to incubate his rebellion, he moved toward infiltrating the Earth with sin and rebellion against God.

Satan knew that, in order to control the Earth, he would first have to take the right to rule the earth from mankind. Yahweh would never have allowed Satan to take dominion of the earth through violence and force. But, if he could tempt mankind to rebel against God's Authority, aligning with him, Satan could gain dominion over the planet through subtlty.

We read in Genesis chapter 3 how Satan deceived the first woman (with Adam voluntarily following his wife into the trap) into believing and following his lie program first begun in the heavens. To conceal his true (well-known) identity, the devil shape-shifted into the form of a serpent.

Genesis 3:1-7 “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which Yahweh God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”
It was in Genesis chapter 3 that Adam relinquished his crown to Satan; Satan gladly assumed dominion over the Earth in Genesis chapter 3.
Romans 5:12 - “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned….”
Satan’s policy of evil succeeded in involving Earth: Adam willfully gave up his divinely-ordained earthly dominion. So, God gave man the dominion over the Earth; when man willfully sided with Satan, man became controlled by Satan and sin, and through fallen man, Satan gained power over the Earth. 

Consequently, Satan dominates the world’s political, religious, social, economic, and educational systems. Hence, the Bible talks about “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). 

Satan is called “the god [or ruler] of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). 

The Bible says in 1 John 5:19, “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” 

Ephesians 2:2 speaks of the evil “course of this world.”

The book of Job describes Satan’s activity in the Earth. Because he has usurped the dominion of this planet, he is now its representative - a role which used to be held by Adam:

Job 1:6-7: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Yahweh, and Satan came also among them. And Yahweh said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered Yahweh, and said, From going to and fro in the earthand from walking up and down in it.”  

Job 2:1-2: “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Yahweh, and Satan came also among them to present himself before Yahweh. And Yahweh said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered Yahweh, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” 

Walking denotes ownership; Satan admits to God that he is active on planet Earth, “going to and fro in the earth… walking up and down in it… going to and fro in the earth… walking up and down in it” (notice we read that expression twice, indicating a prolonged action, not just a one-time motion). 

This is significant, since we read in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour….”Satan is active on planet Earth, and he will especially be doing this in the future—Revelation 12:12.

Now, in Revelation 5, we read that the worthy Lamb had "prevailed", gaining the right to open the seven-sealed book - restoring God's dominion over planet earth once again. When Yahshua came to earth, this was His Mission - to save mankind - and to regain this lost planet. 

Satan knew that this was Yahshua's Mission! He knew that Christ had come to "prevail" - and if successful - He would regain the title deed to planet earth, restoring Heaven's righteous dominion. Knowing this, he worked to tempt Yahshua into seeking to regain this dominion the "easy way". In reality, had Christ bowed to Satan, all hope for restoring the earth would have been lost.
Matthew 4:8-9 - “ Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.”  

Luke 4:5-7 - “And the devil, taking Him up into an high mountain, shewed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto Him, All this power will I give Thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If Thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be Thine.”
Did you notice how Satan offered to give the world’s kingdoms to Yahshua? Yahshua, knowing full well that Satan had dominion over the Earth, never argued with him. He knew that Satan was controlling this world system, and that the only way to restore the world system to God's Kingdom was, not to bow down to and worship Satan (doing things Satan's Way), but to die for man’s sins. We see how the shed Blood of Yahshua Christ on Calvary is the means whereby God will restore earth to Himself.

Satan is currently usurping God’s authority in the Earth. Hence, Yahshua said in John 18:36: “Yahshua answered, My Kingdom is not of this world: if My Kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My Kingdom not from hence.”  Yahshua’s Kingdom was “not of this world” in the sense that His Kingdom was Heavenly rather than one from Satan. 

By the shedding of His Blood, Yahshua "prevailed"!

Colossians 1:16-20 - “For by Him (Yahshua Christ) were all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him. And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the Head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the Blood of His Cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in Heaven.”

Thankfully, dominion over earth has not been forever lost! The Worthy Lamb, Who was slain, has prevailed! He has gained the right to loose the seven seals and to restore title deed to planet earth as part of the Kingdom of Heaven once again! And this time, dominion will never again be lost! Why? Because all have witnessed the devil play out his hand. They have seen for themselves that God's Rules and Ways are Righteous. Never again will anyone rebel against God. Love and true freedom will be forever preserved in the hearts of each created being!
Revelation 11:15“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in Heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Sovereign, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.”