Friday, November 4, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 6, 2016

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MAKING THINGS NEW
(The New Jerusalem)
(Revelation 21:1-8)

   Both Isaiah 60-65, and, Ezekiel 40-48 contain parallels to John’s vision from JESUS of the “new Heaven and earth”, and the “new Jerusalem”, which is depicted in Revelation 21. The earthly Jerusalem, we know, was intended to be the site of the Temple of GOD. It was a symbol of HIS presence among HIS people, and the place where HE might be approached in worship.
    Here in Revelation 21, the New Jerusalem fulfills the promise of the old, as GOD is present in reality, and HIS people can worship HIM freely, without interference from outside duress and persecution from the world which is now controlled by satan. It is a vision that can never be possible as long as satan is around, but rather, can only be fulfilled after GOD settles the score with him, following the time and “foretaste” of the Millennial Kingdom of CHRIST here on the “old earth”.
    John’s vision of the New Jerusalem magnifies to a great degree, the Old Testament prophet’s visions that were expressed and depicted hundreds, and even thousands of years earlier. Isaiah, Haggai, and Ezekiel, all had visions of a “rebuilt” Jerusalem. As we consider those facts, it becomes increasingly easy to see that the idea of a New Jerusalem had been a constant dream that was given to GOD’s most faithful messengers over the years.
    Here in this passage of Scripture, John seems to pull together all of the various visions of these Old Testament prophets and make them his own, manifesting a sort of verification to Christians in the “Church Age” that their earnest expectation will be satisfied in “the Last Days”.
    In Revelation 21, verses 5-7, we see GOD HIMSELF speaking for the first time in this vision saying, “Look, I AM making all things new! And then HE said to John, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true”. And HE also said, “It is finished!” I AM the ALPHA and the OMEGA----the BEGINNING and the END. To all who are thirsty I will give the springs of the water of life without charge! All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their GOD, and they will be MY children” (NLT).
    In verse 8 GOD adds a warning to all those Believers and non-Believers who seem to think that they have no responsibility to GOD, themselves, or their fellowman. A professed Christian cannot just walk through this world declaring they have faith in GOD verbally, while all the time living the life of a heathen. Our faith in GOD has to manifest itself through our actions and behavior. We have to “work hard” to “show” ourselves approved. Faith without “action” is no faith at all. “Saving faith” is the kind of faith that moves us to action, and from there, into a position and attitude by which you can overcome the world like JESUS did. Then we will be able to embrace and accept the power of the blood sacrifice that is CHRIST JESUS, simply because we have accepted and taken hold of the faith that GOD has to offer us.
    And so GOD gives us a “list of immoralities”, that we must first remove ourselves from, before we can obtain the attitude necessary to be able to even accept the gift of salvation that JESUS’ sacrifice affords us. Surprisingly, we see that the first group of people mentioned on the list is “cowards”. Here GOD is speaking of those individuals who clearly know the right thing to do, but are too afraid to do it. This type of inaction shows GOD that one does not trust in HIS power, HIS protection, HIS provisions, nor, HIS plan. A person who reacts this way has no faith in GOD, no matter how many times they profess it with their lips in the friendly confines of the Church.
    Cowards are those who are afraid to defend the Word and lifestyle of the LORD openly before the world that is opposed to HIM. They don’t mind speaking about the LORD in a friendly, accepting environment, but they fear to confess their Christian beliefs openly when challenged by someone who takes an anti-Christ position in the world. And while it is true that we are not supposed to debate the bible with the world, we are also not to deny JESUS before the world either.
    Usually, these particular professed Christians won’t defend the Word of GOD because they are not familiar enough with its contents themselves to defend it, or, they are afraid of the “counterfeit power of man, through satan”, which they “fear” could cause them to lose their position or status with their friends that they shouldn’t have in the first place, their status on their jobs, their position in their families, or, their position in the world in general.
    Next, we see “unbelievers”, whom most people would think would be first on the list, however, when GOD starts to clean house HE always starts with the church. The reason being is that, GOD doesn’t ever want the professed Christian Church to be guilty of contributing to further messing up the world, or working on satan’s side of the fence. GOD more expects wrong things from those who never had the experience to get to know HIM, than HE does from those who do, and, should know better.
    And so, whenever we know the right thing to do, yet are afraid to do it because we have no real faith in GOD ourselves in the first place, then, the unbelievers in this world have no real chance of obtaining salvation, by getting to know GOD through HIS Church. As a result, those who are “corrupt” will begin to move even farther away from GOD, perhaps, by becoming murderers, by further embracing sexual immorality and homosexuality, by practicing witchcraft (evil spiritual manipulation), by idolizing false gods (including people, places, and things), and by becoming any of those persons who succumbs to the influence of “lying spirits” and becomes open to, and is willing to embrace, all manner of sin.
    In order to make all things new, the way HE promises HE will, GOD has to dispense with all things old, that are spiritually contaminated, and have become familiar to us, through our sin. In addition, and, in regards to our role (the role of the Christian Church), when we fail to, or refuse to, operate correctly as “GOD’s only figurative representative here on earth”, we doom “the unsaved world” to the pits of Hell. In other words, due to a severe lack of effort on most of our parts, we sentence them to what GOD calls, “The Second Death”, which is a final, “permanent separation from HIM” where there can be no coming back, not ever.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander  





                                 
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