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Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Revelation - Part 13 - Spiritual Realities

We pause once again to think beyond our natural human minds. The very concept of God is impossible for us to fathom in these mortal minds. This is why God has to reveal tremendous truths in language and images we can understand. This is how we must understand the Trinity. God is a spiritual reality. He is One, yet understood in Three Persons. This is how he presents Himself to us. These concepts and images are necessary for his creatures to try and understand the incomprehensible.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts."

-Isaiah 55:8-9

Sometimes these images are in the form of parables. As we have noted many times, parables have a two-fold purpose. They are given to so the rebellious will not understand greater truths (Matt 13:11) while simultaneously the one who seeks to "search out a matter" in regard to God's "secrets" (Prov 25:2) can find tremendous, inspiring, encouraging truths. This why we work hard at "rightly dividing the Word of Truth," that we may not find ourselves "ashamed" at his appearing (2 Tim 2:15).

We see a lot of imagery in the Revelation. I have presented the idea that while these images and visions are in regard to literal truths, they themselves are not necessarily literal. Clearly, when John sees a beast coming out of the sea (Rev 13:1, etc.), he is seeing representation of a literal truth.

Circling back on the idea that our minds are literal, let me suggest one other thing to consider: perhaps even literal and real things reflect truths we cannot understand. There are spiritual realities that we can only experience as physical realities.

For example, maybe the horse we know is merely an earthly version of a heavenly creature beyond comprehension. This may seem somewhat existential and even fanciful, but we have an example of this in scripture. The Tabernacle is a representation of a heavenly reality.

The earthly high priest entered the holiest place to sprinkle the animal blood sacrifice on the mercy seat. But this was simply a picture of reality we cannot fully understand.

Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 
-Hebrews 9:23-24

We see the physical reality (in this case, the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies) which represent "heavenly things." We see "copies of true things." We understand that God uses images in the Revelation, but we need to allow that even the "real" things we see are merely representative.

When Ezekiel sees the "living things" and the images of faces, we sense we are in that in-between world of the real and the use of imagery. Could this not be true of other things? When the Lord and the armies in heaven come on "white horses" (Rev 19:14), what kind of creatures might these be?

One last thought while we're here: the picture of the priest entering the holy of holies as Christ entered the true holy place to offer his final sacrifice tells us two things.


  1. The sacrifice is complete, wholly sufficient, never to be repeated.
  2. Only one can enter that place.


Unfortunately, most of Christendom has rejected that finished work in one form or another. As people "give up" something for Lent or attend mass (the "perpetual sacrifice" which is never complete or sure), they call the sacrifice of Christ and unclean thing, unable to save.

When we rightly divide the Word of Truth, we must reject all earthly ordinances. We must rest solely in the death, burial (lack of decay) and resurrection of our Great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace is not a "covenant." We have no earthly hope or promise (as Israel does). As Gentiles in the current dispensation, we claim only Christ.

Practicing Lent will not cause one to lose the free gift, but it can be, at best, a tremendous hindrance to understanding our calling and, at worst, a mockery of the finished work.

  


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