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Posted By Nan

For many months, I have been urged by the Holy Spirit to study the Book of Revelation in my blog. I have resisted and have been allowed to take my studies elsewhere. Now the call is insistent, so I am studying Revelation. Like many Christians, I find the book hard to understand and am very put off by the, at times, very damaging interpretations of the passages that some Christians hold. In the late 1990’s I witnessed the horrifying outpouring of just such an interpretation in a church I belonged to. The Minister, his wife and a small inner group within the church had read a book that interpreted Revelation in such a way that they believed that Jesus would return as the calendar switched from 31 December 1999 to 1 January 2000. This had a negative impact on the work of the church. For some time there had been several outreach events that had led to many people accepting Jesus as their Saviour. Sadly, instead of the church developing ministries to support and welcome these new converts into the church and disciple them, all attention was turned to running classes to preserve food and stockpile other necessities because they believed there would be a time of tribulation when believers would need food. So the new Christians were neglected. Some found Churches to disciple them, but most, without any assistance to grow their faith, slipped away from the faith. I was not living in the area when January came, so I do not know how they explained the fact Jesus did not return. The horror of how damaging their faulty doctrine was to those stumbling in darkness remains with me. It is important we have a balanced view of Revelation and do not leave ourselves open to such faulty and damaging doctrine.
Revelation is written in three different styles.
The first is Apocalyptic – This is the word Revelation, the first word in the book. The word has been translated into our language as Apocalypse. The word meant the removal of cover from something hidden, or unveiling what was concealed. The negative and sinister meaning we give the word is not the original meaning. There were many apocalyptic writings of the period in Jewish literature. The heavy symbolism of the work was understood then, but the meanings have since been lost so it is difficult for us to fully understand it.
The second style if Prophetic – the book is described as “words of prophesy”. The New Testament prophets gave spirit guided words revealing God’s purpose for the future, often revealed in how God dealt with them in the past.
The third style is of a letter and the opening is laid out like a typical letter.
This was a trumpet call to faith. It was written to strengthen the faith and courage of John’s fellow believers. In the fact of increasing persecution this was important.
The main themes of Revelation are the Sovereignty of God in Jesus Christ, the satanic nature of contemporary adulation of the Roman Empire (or any other power for that matter), that judgement of God on those who worship idols is inescapable and that conflict between believers and power of evil in the world will end in victory of believers through the power of Jesus’ resurrection.
The book begins with a vision of the risen Lord, who gives messages them the 7 churches from the Roman province of Asia. He rebukes them because they have failed to follow Him and he encourages them on the path of Christian Service. Following this there is a vision of God and the Lamb. Then follow the 7 seals with accompanying visions, the 7 trumpets with accompanying vision. Then follow many wonders in heaven. Then there are the 7 last plagues, judgement on the Scarlet woman and Babylon. Finally there are visions of the millenium of the new heavens and the new earth.
The book speaks of great opposition to God and His people but God will triumph over all evil.


Posted By Nan

Psalm 136
Today is the end of my blog on Songs of Ascents. As with 135 it is not strictly one of the Songs of Ascents, but it is a wonderful Psalm of praise for the Pilgrims to sing.
His Love Endures Forever
The truth that is woven through every moment of our existence, the truth that underlies everything we do and is the silent partner in all our interactions.
We may marvel and praise God for His Status (1-3), His work in creation (4-9), His work in history (10-22) and His goodness to Israel (23-25) but these events mean nothing unless they are seen as evidence of God’s great and enduring Love. Underlying all the words of this Psalm is who God is. He is the one whose love endures forever! This unchanging love is the true source of awe and worship. The thought is His unchanging and unfailing love causes me to stop in wonder and awe before Him. When I tear myself away, I am aware of how much love I have for Him, how grateful I am that He loves me and my response to this is Praise and more awe.
The truth of this Psalm is the underlying truth of the pilgrim’s steps as they journeyed to Jerusalem. It was the constant refrain of the Psalms. The constant returning to the fact that God’s love endures forever.
Looking at the Psalm by verse we can see that 1-3 speak of God as the Mighty God. No power can defeat Him or fail to bow to His will. (Romans 8:39-39).
4-9 is an acknowledgement of how safe we are because the world we live in is His world, His creation and under His control.
10-15 tells us we are redeemed (1 Peter 1:18-21).
16 tells us that God provides for us no matter what our circumstances are. (Philippians 4:12-13,19).
17-22 reminds us that because God has the victory we may receive our inheritance (Colossians 1:12-14).
23-24 bringing us to our knees in humble awe as His choosing us (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
25 tells us God provides, and we are grateful for that.
26 concludes with the reminder that God’s love endures forever.
I particularly love the Amplified Bible’s translation of verses 23-26.
I love that in 23 He imprinted us on His heart! This despite our extreme unworthiness. Wow, to be imprinted on God’s heart!
23 To Him Who [earnestly] remembered us in our low estate and imprinted us [on His heart], for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever;
24 And rescued us from our enemies, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever;
25 To Him Who gives food to all flesh, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever;
26 O give thanks to the God of heaven, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!
This concludes my study of the Songs of Ascents. I will not be posting a blog on Saturday but will resume Wednesday 30 July with a study I have been avoiding doing all year. God in His infinite patience has allowed me to do other studies, grow and come to understand why this study is important. I will be looking at Revelation, probably the least understood and most misunderstood books of the Bible.
“O give thanks to the God of Heaven for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!”


Posted By Nan

Psalm 135.
Technically the Songs of Ascents stop with Psalm 134, but some commentaries include 135 and 136 in the Songs. They are beautiful psalms of praise so it is quite fitting to include them.
One of the reasons this psalm links so well to the Songs of Ascents is the praise and the references in verses 1-4 to actions mentioned in previous psalms. The mention of servants who minister in 1-2 and ‘good and pleasant’ (here it refers to God) of 3 are the same words seen in psalm 133:1 (how good and pleasant it is to praise God) and 134:2 (lift up hands to praise God).
Here is worship in the sanctuary, but what it is about? It is about the individual pilgrim remembering and acknowledging in praise all God has done for him. This is about our individual relationship with God and the requirement that we, as individuals, have a personal relationship with God and do not forget what He has done, but rather remember it and praise Him for it.
The pilgrims lived, as we do, in a world with many gods. In 5 the pilgrim acknowledges there is only one God. The idols made by men’s hands have no life, no eyes to see and no lips to speak (15-18). The pilgrim acknowledges there is only one God. This God commands the heavens and the earth. He controls the weather, the rising and falling of the sea, storms and winds (5-8). He has the power to do this but the idols made by men’s hands are unable to control anything, even though the people devote all their attention to them. Those who follow God do not waste their time and attention in worship because they worship the one true God.
The verses 8-14 recount the story of the exodus, a powerful reminder for the pilgrim of that time of how God intervened in the life of the Israeli nation and of His faithfulness and love. It is also an acknowledgement that God is unchanging. We can trust Him.
15 to 18 remind the reader that the idols of the other nations are inert, created by men. People worship them but they do nothing. The people focus all their attention on these images they have made but nothing happens. The people waste their time in worshipping things made by their own hands that can do nothing to effect change in their lives.
The closing verses of the hymn (19-21) remind the pilgrim to fear and praise God always. God is great. He is real. He loves those who fear Him and He is here. For the pilgrim He was there in the temple but for us He is here with us now through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord.


Posted By Nan

Psalm 134.
This is the last psalm of the last triplet in the Songs of Ascents. The pilgrims have arrived. The great moment of standing in the Temple praising God has arrived.
The pilgrimage began with the pilgrims bemoaning their life in Meshed (Central Asia) and Kedar (Arabia), far from the temple, amongst unbelievers.
As the Songs progressed, the sadness of the pilgrims and their complaints at their difficulties in life slowly transformed into an awareness of God and His power and will to intervene in their lives.
Now they have arrived at the Temple. All earthly cares are gone. All that is left is praise for God. The pilgrim has realised that only God matters.
When the festival is over the pilgrim will leave and return to the sad reality of life, but there will always be worship in the Temple. Just for now the pilgrim stands in the Temple, praising God individually and together. The pilgrim calls the Levites to keep the worship going always so there is continual Praise to God.
In response to the praise and submission of the pilgrim God pours His blessings on them.
The pilgrim would then have returned home happy and refreshed in his faith. The journey would have been a hard journey but very worthwhile, fulfilling and essential.
We need our pilgrimages in life. Our regular times to come back to God and remind ourselves what He has done and what He requires of us. May we never forget to sing our Songs of Ascents as we travel the difficult path to once again praise God in the temple.


Posted By Nan

Psalm 133
This psalm is the middle of the last triplet. The arrival in God’s presence! With the arrival comes fellowship of all believers. The people gather in God’s presence and worship together as one with a beautiful unity.
It is good and pleasant to be together in unity. After all, we believe in the one God and we believe in His Son Jesus, our Saviour. We believe in the same salvation so we should have unity. But we do not. We argue over doctrine, we argue over which group or building we should be together in, we apply human prejudice and “in” and “out” group thinking to our interactions with fellow followers of Jesus. Our “spiritual” leaders tell us not to listen to those from other groups, even if the fruit of the Spirit is evidence in their lives. Why? Because their doctrine does not agree with our leaders. Therefore we must not listen or we may be corrupted by this different doctrine. We corrupt what God has told us and try to put people in society in bondage over our corrupted meanings. We turn people away from God through the corruption of God’s word. We are told to go to church every Sunday and be part of the worship experience, often carefully choreographed to build up the excitement until we can feel a sort of worship experience (just in case we don’t actually manage to feel the anointing of the Spirit – after all that is what we want in our church experience isn’t it?). The one thing we are not encouraged to do is read the Bible and pray to God. Yet those actions are the only ones God requires of us. Everything else flows from them. When we do those things then unity of believers becomes a fruitful anointing and blessing as we worship God together rather than a competition to see whose doctrine we should follow.
Unity of believers is a beautiful anointing. As the psalm says it is a sacred act. Unity of believers is as precious as the anointing of Aaron in the wilderness. A beautiful solemn setting aside for service. Aaron’s anointing was a symbol of a wonderful beginning and hope of a new, better life. Think of what it must have meant to the Israelites. So dramatically freed from slavery in Egypt and led into the desert by God in a massive pillar of smoke and fire. Behind lay deliverance from slavery and ahead lay hope. They people revered God and were getting to know Him. They were full of thankfulness for all He had done and full of hope in the future. This is what unity should be. It should be about reverence for God and the hope in all He has for us. It should be about the unity of believers and the knowledge we are all God’s beloved people. There should be genuine love for one another not mistrust and disdain at the differences in the way we perceive God.
How sad it is that unity is what rarely happens between believers.




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