The Return of the King
|John Goh||012 207 email@example.com|
|Dr Lee Fook Sin||019 230 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Moh Ee Lin||019 273 email@example.com|
|Ng Cho Hoo||012 878 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Susanah Ng||012 email@example.com|
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS – STUDY 16
Please look at the questions and discuss the answers. The case histories are designed to let you apply what theoretical knowledge you have gleaned from the study. There are intentionally many more questions and case histories than you can manage in one session but this is designed to cover the many and varied needs of the individuals in the church hence please pick and choose which ones to discuss as long as it gets people sharing and applying the Word to real life situations. Never feel obligated to finish all the questions The answers will be posted on the web the next day.
The background to the term Hallelujah is the Hallel psalms of 113-118 which are read out aloud during the Passover meal and they specifically praise God for salvation from slavery in Egypt. These are psalms with specific intent to glorify God for his judgement of Egypt and in the same process salvation for Israel. So the first part of the term comes from these psalms “Halle”. The second part of the term is “Jah” is the shortened form of Jehovah or YHWH. Just like names that end with “Jah” reference God like “Elijah”. It is good to be mindful when we use the term to remember the context that it is used to praise God for saving us through His Son Jesus and not trivialise the term for every day use when we get an unexpected free parking slot in front of the supermarket as trivialising the term empties it of its beauty and depth of meaning
The topic of judgement is often counter intuitive to all of us as judgement has a two way street. We all too often find that our selves self condemned for the very sins we so self righteously condemn others for. It is much easier and unifying in our experience to speak of love and reconciliation and forgiveness as cast judgement as vindictive and a product of a narrow minded attitude out for payback.
There is a difference between justice and revenge. Justice is the impartial upholding the law and revenge is going beyond the law and exacting punishment or retribution based on one’s own biased judgements rather than the truth. Judgement is upholding the truth whilst revenge is hijacking the truth and bending it to justify our imperfect desires for retribution.
So on top of our misunderstanding between the nature of justice and revenge our natural culpability for our sin causes us to shy away from thinking or even rejoicing about judgement. Most churches tend to focus their teaching and exhortation on love and the long suffering of God and this may results in a lop sided one dimensional concept of who or what God is. If this is the case the danger is worshiping an idol as that kind of God is not the God revealed in the bible but one made up out of our own preferences.
We worship God for His judgements because His judgements are a demonstration of His fairness and unyielding commitment to truth. If God were like any corrupt human government that has a two tiered system of justice, one for the rich and well connected and one for the poor and down
trodden then He would have proved Him self neither just nor fair and consequently He cannot be a “good” God worthy of our worship.
Secondly, it would make a mockery of His Word and Law by which He rules the universe if sinners got away with their sins or if some sinners did selectively and others did not then His Word would not be absolute and we would have a capricious God acting on His own whims and fancies and the universe would not have the stable platform of rule from a consistent God and He would not be worthy of our worship. We all have confidence in the way we live and plan based on the fact that this world is ruled by a set of immutable laws set but an immutable God. Scientists will design a rocket shot in to the far flung reaches of the universe based on the immutable laws of physics God has put in place, so the craft will go exactly to where it is planned based on these laws. Imagine an unstable God who wakes up every morning and changes his mind? We praise God for the very fact that He is fair and His judgements are not seen as evil. If He was not fair like our own legal system in the way it is administered then we would be unable to really praise Him and He would not be worthy of our worship.
There is also glory in his judgement of sins for us personally because His judgement of sins falls fairly on every single sinner. However on our part when we place our faith on Jesus, the judgement of God falls squarely on Jesus and not us. In this way God is absolutely fair and just and His glory is seen in His fairness. He did not close one eye and let us off. Instead for us who place our faith in Jesus our judgement fell on His own shoulders. This is the glory of God in judgement. Like when the fire and brimstone fell on Sodom and God rescued Lot. If you were Lot you would be praising God for His unmerited favour there is glory in judgement in that evil was properly addressed and yet we like Lot were shown grace
The imagery of a wedding dinner, is entirely appropriate because the wedding represents the final consummation of love between a man and a woman. There is joy and ecstasy which a wedding represents and this represents our joy and ecstasy in the consummation of our love with our Saviour. There is a union where the two become one and this too helps indicate our own union with Jesus who takes upon Himself our sin and pain and we take His righteousness. There is celebration in the meal and the wedding and this will indicate to us the same celebration in heaven.
There is much anticipation for the wedding in its preparations and long waiting period for it to happen and this captures our own perseverance under persecution to look forward and live in anticipation towards this event. In fact for each prospective bride and bride groom they live each day with the wedding at the top of their minds. They work eagerly towards this, they save money, undergo hardship, forgo simple pleasures and sexual consummation in order to have it fulfilled in the right manner on the wedding night and this is reflected in the way the saints should look forward to the final event in heaven. There are no wedding couples who are too busy preoccupied with other worries and events unrelated to their wedding it is the chief event of their lives they live for and Jesus wants us to think of His union with us in heaven in the same way. The wedding garment of the bride in white also indicates righteousness and faithfulness. No groom anticipates marrying a prostitute who has squandered her sexuality on every one else. The chastity and faithfulness of the bride is what makes her beautiful and desirable to the groom and that is what Jesus is looking for wards to us in our exclusive love for him.
The institution of marriage is now attacked in our community by the sexual revolution where the sexuality of the couple no longer need to be within the bonds of marriage. There is sexual freedom in adultery or premarital sex or polygamy and this is the akin to idolatry as sexual
freedom tells us that we need no longer be faithful to one God we can have other gods in addition to God.
The rise of acceptability of divorce too strikes at the heart of the institution of marriage that it is no longer permanent and reliable. Again this strikes at the heart of our relationship with God that it is okay to break up and have other gods there is no longer any exclusivity. Our relationships with Him is now cast with the same casualness with the way we conduct our own marriages. The same goes for the issue of same sex marriage it too undermines the nature of the institution each one of these sins chips way at the only institution that forms the bedrock of how we view our relationship with God.
John like us are most easily impressed by power and beauty which would what an angel would possess especially after presenting such a wonderful image of the final Marriage supper of the Lamb. We like him would be so easily tempted to bow down to power and beauty and worship this.
We often subtly worship leaders in church or in the community as we are awed by their charisma, their power , their miraculous exploits and we are much less interested in the truth of their message but in the charisma of their personalities as that is what is so easily seen from the outside. We see this kind of uncritical spirit in the church today having many led astray.
The angel corrects John and tells him to worship God , worship God alone Both the angel and human prophets are on the same plan they are stewards or servants. They have no importance or relevance apart from the message they bear which is the testimony about Jesus which is in other words the gospel. The gospel is what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. That is the testimony of the prophets from the OT all the way to the NT and that is the important thing that both angels and human prophets bear.
True faith is never alone. Faith is what binds us to Jesus hence there is no merit in that faith. Faith is the instrument we use to bind us to grab hold of Jesus to be in union with Him. True faith that truly binds us to Jesus will result in a spiritual transformation that results in good works.
What Martin Luther meant was that we are justified by faith alone not good works is that we are saved by the kind of faith that is real and transformative and will result in good works. We are not saved by a combination of faith and good works like a batman and robin kind of dynamic duo. The good works that we do must come out of a real faith that has its motive and roots in true faith because good works can come from a false sense of our own ability to do good works to earn acceptance or merit before God.
Two brothers can both sacrifice their time to help feed the poor. One does it because he feels it is because he is a good person intrinsically or God will look upon him favourably and this is salvation by works. The other does it because he believes in Jesus and it is out of this belief that his feeding the poor is feeding Jesus , he does it out of his love for Jesus realising that nothing he actually does will in any way earn him passage to heaven but his good works are a natural consequence of his union with Jesus. It is like petrol in the tank of a car. If the petrol is faith then all we have to know about whether the car has petrol is to see if the car will run when the accelerator is pressed. We don’t have to look in to the petrol tank we just have to see if the car runs. Faith is like the petrol if it is in the tank and if it is not fake, the car will run and we will do good works and symbolically in Rev 19 we will clothe ourselves with good works.
The challenge of the passage is basically consistent with the literary structure of the book of Revelations as everything is cast in a duality of contrasts. You are either going to choose to be in the splendour and joy of the supper marriage of the Lamb where you are feasting hand having your fill or you become the supper of the vultures when Jesus comes again to destroy and kill all unbelievers. The contrast is stark and compelling we need to make a choice to live now for ourselves and join in the pleasures that Babylon and the Harlot gives you or forgo these short term pleasures and focus on to endure faithfully and have the eternal supper of the Lamb.
The first coming of Jesus is the coming of grace as described in Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. The first coming was on a donkey in peace and in forbearance as Jesus came quietly and peacefully to live a righteous life on our behalf and die on our behalf to enable us to come back to God in to a right relationship.
He came not that we deserved it but by grace to offer salvation and peace hence the manner in which He came was quiet, showing love, healing the sick reaching out to the down trodden and the whole purpose was to bring us back to a right relationship with the Father. The second coming is the coming in glory.
Titus 2: 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
This coming is not to provide a way back to God in righteousness but to bring us back to Him. To bring back a transformed people who loves God and love to be rightly related to Him. Hence this second coming is the triumphant coming where judgement must be meted out to those who refuse His Son and refuse to be His people.
In ancient times a person’s name indicates his character and destiny. Also knowing the name can in some instances enable you to have a certain sense of power over the person. Hence having an unknowable name will indicate the kind of sovereignty of Jesus as God whom we can never quite understand or get our arms around because He is so wonderfully immense.