Friday, December 28, 2012

When All Things Become New

Fourth Quarter 2012 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
When All Things Become New
For the week of Dec. 29, 2012
When All Things Become New
Life’s experience itself has taught us that there are times when another repair on the car won’t due.  It’s not worth it.  It’s time for a new vehicle. Many experiencing the devastation of Hurricane Sandy have found that a new home, a new garage, a new residence is the only solution. The devastation and degradation and corruption of sin will only be fully cured when a new heaven and new earth is in place.

We have tasted some ting of the power of this world to come.  We ourselves have experienced, often after groaning and travailing the new birth, and the newness of life that salvation through Jesus Christ brings --- here and now.  Being in Christ, we have become new creatures and rejoiced in our deliverance from the old man of sin.  But that work of justification and sanctification and living in the power of the risen Christ is not over and finalized until we have the ultimate and final deliverance into the glorious liberty of the sons and daughter of God. It will be something akin to that time when the morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy. But actually it is beyond description.

Only One who can make something from nothing, one who is Creator, can truly make new men and women, and a new world devoid of the curse, the thorns, sickness, and the stalking plague of death.
From Mourning to Morning:  Reflections on The Dawning of A New World
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." I Thessalonians 4: 16 – 18

The second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in glory to gather His saints together, to receive the willing, loving subjects of his kingdom  is the signaling event of the new morning. It is the dawning of the millennium.  This is the dawning of the day to which the prophet Peter refers when he writes, "We have a more sure word of prophecy whereunto ye do well that ye take heed as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day star arises in your hearts.”

By faith every believer will have already received the dawning of Christ as the day star, the bright and morning star,  in their hearts, the needful preparation to meet him in peace when he comes in glory, as opposed to fleeing to the rocks. For them, those who fear his name and give glory to God, the Sun of righteousness will have already arisen with healing in his wings --- the healing of justification and sanctification which are righteousness by faith. They know Him as the LORD THEIR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Jeremiah 23:5

His coming follows the time of trouble such as has never been upon the earth.  His people are prepared to stand by his work as High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary.  The “investigative judgment” has another side, that of preparing of a people (as John the Baptist did at the first coming) to go before Him (in his Second coming) and turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers, the disobedient to the wisdom (Christ) of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1: 17.

Christ’s priestly work has prepared them for the glorious morning when sorrow and sighing begin to flee away and when they enter into the  millennium rest, the sabbatical rest before the full dawning of eternal peace and joy following the executive judgment.  Of course, they will have already entered into Christ’s rest, because they recognize that it is his right-doing, holiness, law-keeping, obedience by faith and love in the Father, that has fulfilled the law, being the basis of their salvation in Him.

"And I saw another angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, abusos in Greek,  and a great chain in his hand.  And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years…."   Revelation 20: 1,2

Note that Satan is put in a bottomless pit, an abyss, or in Greek abusos. This first appears in the Bible in Genesis in the Septuagint  as, “And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep (abusos in Greek, tachon in Hebrew).  This was the creation before God spoke light into existence, a prerequisite to life.  At the millennium, could the earth again become an abusos?

The angel Gabriel did many things:  He appeared to Daniel after twenty-one days of prayer (Daniel 10); appeared to Zacharias announcing the birth of John and Jesus, appeared to Mary telling her she would be the mother of Christ ( both in Luke 1); and He appeared to Joseph in a dream(Matthew 1) telling him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife.   So angels were busy in ministry throughout salvation history.  However, some things only Christ Himself can do.  Only He can bind Satan.  At the commencement of the millenium Christ’s coming itself effects that binding.  The wicked being destroyed by the brightness of this coming, and the righteous being delivered,  Satan has no one to tempt.  In a sense, Christ’s righteousness has bound Satan by developing a people ready to meet Jesus reflecting his agape love. One phase of the judgment is complete, and now the one who was the originator, the Father of lies and murder and sin itself is seized.  Just as the Azazel in the sanctuary service on the Day of Atonement Yom Kippur was taken  into the wilderness by a strong man and turned lose to die, so Satan is cast into the wilderness of the earth to await the end of the millennium.

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection."  Revelation 20: 4–6

A higher level of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom is embraced by the saints as they enter fully into holiness and are no longer fettered with corruption and the restraints of mortality.  They have overcome and the last generation in particular have “gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, and they stand on the sea of glass…Revelation 15: 2.  The Words of Jesus Christ to the angel of the church of Laodicea are uniquely suited to them, “To Him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne…” Revelation 3; 21. Trial, tribulation, the good fight of faith,  the experiences of sorrow and suffering, have all uniquely suited these saints, who feel their unworthiness, to sit on thrones in a role of judgment. and reigning with Christ.  Sorrow and sighing flee away into rejoicing and praise.  They now reign in glory, because where sin abounded, by faith, grace did much more abound.  Brokenhearted over the fruits of sin, beholding the cross of Christ, they have let grace reign unto righteousness, so that when the call went forth “… He that is righteous, let him be righteous still” they could be found righteous in Him.

They will no longer see through a glass darkly, but now seeing face to face, the mysteries of salvation, the great controversy, the government of God, and the nature of redeeming love begin to be unfold before them under the tutelage of Christ Himself.  ( See I Corinthians 4: 5).

"And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go forth to deceive the natinos which are in the four quarters of the earth…And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and he beloved city: and fire came down deom God out of heaven, and devoured them."  Revelation 20: 7-9

Incredibly, after a millennium of rest in the presence of the God head, away from sin and sinners and Satan’s temptations and devices, the Saints are already beyond his grasp, but must yet encounter him as they behold the clearest revelation of the ferocity and force of the principle of sin.  The drive for power, control, and self-centered dominion continues to drive Satan as he, inspite of a thousand years of reflection on the consequences of his rebellion, decides to continue his rebellion.  He is indeed a captive to Himself.  He is indeed driven.  Even for us now it is highly sobering and instructive to consider the lethal power and bondage of sin, broken only by the cross of Jesus Christ.

Clearly Jehovah’s integrity is beyond reproach.  Just and true are his ways!  If He were an earthly politician, he would have had advisors who encouraged him to engage in a cove- up about  Lucifer’s rebellion, the origin of sin and the issues of the great controversy.  Instead he has chosen to uncover these things, to lay these issues out before us and the unfallen worlds, allowing all to judge Him. Truly, how Great is Our God!
-Michael Horton