Revelation 22:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: Revelation 22:13

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” – Revelation 22:13

Revelation is the last book in the Bible, God’s Word.  Chapter 21 through 22:5 describe the future abode of the redeemed, starting from the revealing of the new heavens and earth through the declaration that this life will endure forever with no end.  Then we read the following. “And he said to me, these words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place. And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:6-7.  Jesus speaking through the angel, declares that He is coming soon.  And blessed are those who believe the words of this book and keep them, living the life that shows they truly believe.

Then He declares the words of our focus verse.  Before we start, something needs to be clarified.  Any time a word is repeated three times, this denotes something very important, absolute and complete, something that needs to be emphasized.  For example, “And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4:8. Holy declared three times denotes His holiness is absolute and complete.  It will remain for He cannot be less then holy.

Ok, now back to the focus verse.  Note the three parts.  He says He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  For those not familiar with the Greek alphabet, Alpha is the first letter and Omega is the last letter.  This is the same as the Holy, Holy, Holy in that it is the same idea expressed three times: “First letter” to “Last Letter”, “First” to “Last”, and “Beginning” to “End”.  These denote His eternality is absolute and complete, and it will remain that way because He cannot be less then eternal.

Only an eternal being can declare what is our everlasting future with complete accuracy.  Therefore, let us rejoice.  No matter how difficult things get here, or the trials we go through, or the persecution we endure, there is a beautiful life in store for us.  One that is wonderful beyond words, and endless beyond our comprehension.  So, stand strong and uncompromising.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Revelation 2:8

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Revelation 2:8  

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:” – Revelation 2:8

Over the seven days, I will be looking at what John wrote, by the inspiration of God, to the seven major churches in Asia Minor.  In these seven letters, God gives a message to each that is specific to each and speaks of issues that could fit the Churches throughout history.  It is important to look at these and examine our church and ultimately ourselves to see where we stand regarding these. 

Now we come to the Church in Smyrna.  In our focus verse it says, “The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this.” Revelation 2:8b.  This is clear evidence that it is Jesus, the Christ, who is speaking here.  In Revelation one we see both ideas brought forth.  “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8.  Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Among the Jewish rabbis, it was common to use the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet to denote the whole of anything, from beginning to end. Jesus as the beginning and end of all things is a clear reference to eternity and could apply only to God.  Then farther down we read, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” Revelation 1:17-18.  These two references specifically state He was the beginning and end, but also the one who was dead but came back to life. 

Smyrna was a large, important city on the western coast of Asia Minor, famed for its schools of medicine and science. The words of Jesus to the church in Smyrna offer insight into the life of a first-century congregation.  Jesus starts by acknowledging their trials, which were many.  “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not but are a synagogue of Satan.” Revelation 1:9.  First, in their physical poverty, they were extraordinarily rich due to their spiritual wealth they had laid up for themselves  in the good work they do.  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;” Matthew 5:19-20.

They also received much blaspheme from those claiming to be Jews but were not. Synagogue members at Smyrna presumably considered opposition to the church to be consistent with Israel’s tradition, since they thought Jesus followers had departed from the tradition by making elevated claims about Jesus.  From these verses’ perspective, their attempt to denounce Jesus’ followers, especially when this could lead to imprisonment and/or death was incompatible with loyalty to Israel’s God.  However, for John who was writing God’s message to them, those who denounced Christians thereby denounced the God to whom they bear witness to and therefore called it blaspheme. Also, the Jews who denounced them joined forces with civic and provincial authorities who worshipped other gods in the effort to get the Christians arrested. 

Then He encourages them.  “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10. Back in this time, and in the Old Testament times, “ten days” seems to be a round number to indicate a limited period of time. He is telling them to remain strong and not to fear what will come.  He does not want them to be surprised, so He tells them that Satan will have some of them thrown into prison.  The threat of imminent suffering often inspires fear (Aristotle, Rhet. 2.5.1).  However, this revelation counters the fear by giving them confidence that members of the community will not be abandoned but will be brought through the suffering with God’s help to everlasting life by way of the resurrection.

Difficult times are coming for all of us Christians.  Some will go through more trials than others, however, we all will no doubt go through some degree of troubles.  However, one thing we can be confident in, and that is Christ will be with us to strengthen and remind us of the great eternal future we have awaiting us.  Do not let the fear of man and the enemy take away our peace and joy for we know where we are going, and it is a wonderful place. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

2 Peter 3:3

Verse of the Day Devotion:  2 Peter 3:3 

“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,” – 2 Peter 3:3

Peter here, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, is declaring things that will occur in the last days.  Looking at our focus verse, in the last days mockers and scoffers will come.   Who will they mock?  Those who believe that Jesus will come back.  They will say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:4.  There basic argument is that Christians have been talking about this event for over two thousand years and He has not come so far.  So, why should they believe that it will ever happen. 

We see the message of mockers and scoffers presented in many forms.  You see it in books that attempt to convince many to ignore Christianity, especially regarding Christ’s return.  We also see it in our schools, colleges and universities which are becoming more deeply atheistic in their beliefs, teachings and ideologies.  Professors and teachers pushing an anti-religion mentality that many times ridicules anyone who believes otherwise.  I remember taking a class called ‘Christian Beliefs’ at a North Carolina college.  It turned out that the instructor was a heavily liberal Christian who was an assistant Pastor at a heavily liberal church.  I had missed the first night of class.  On the second night I arrived and the first thing he said was, ‘So, now that we have shown that the creation story is a myth, we will proceed …’.  I immediately raised my hand and said ‘Excuse Me.’  One person in the class shouted out ‘All right’.  Most of the class said nothing and appeared not to question it at all.  And throughout the semester, he brought up many similar thoughts that showed his unbelief, several of them in mocking fashion.

This prophecy Is not limited to Peter.  We see it with Jude as well.  “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” Jude 1:18. Now, when you look at this as well as our focus verse, we see something in common; the idea of following after their lusts.  This is actually what is happening and why many scoff at the idea of Christ returning, and Christianity as well.  This is the true source of antichristian beliefs.  The Gospel of Jesus is pure and holy and requires a holy heart and a holy life.  The enemy, Satan, has convinced many that there is no reason to give up what they desire to believe that cannot possibly be true.  He has convinced them that Christianity is a lie and there is no reason to give up what they enjoy simply to follow a myth. 

We see more and more a mocking and scoffing of Christianity.  And it is interesting that this is evidence of the truth of the gospel.  Most other religions are accepted and even followed by many who attempt to downplay and ridicule Christians.  The enemy will allow people to believe anything as long as it does not include the real truth of Christ.  And Satan will attack true Christians by mocking and ridiculing them, especially in the presence of others.  It is important that we do not be concerned with how people see or ridicule us.  We know the truth.  We understand that Christ came to earth to die for us to pay the price of redemption and will come back to take His people to our future eternal life.  What difference does it make how man views us?  Sadly, if they do not repent and accept Christ, when He returns, they will see the truth and believe, however at that time they will find it is too late.  And because of this, we should share the truth no matter how they respond.  It can be difficult, but we are a light in the darkness and thus it is our calling.  Be strong and tell the truth.  Remember what Peter said.  “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29b.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Job 19:25

Verse of the Day Devotion: Job 19:25 

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” –  Job 19:25   

In the beginning of the Book of Job, he basically loses all he had because of Satan, who takes them away from him in testing God.  Job was a very prosperous man and had much property and many in his family.  However, Satan takes away everything he has and then kills all his children.  Soon after this, Satan attacks Job and covers his body with sore boils, from the top of his head to the soles of his feet.  And because of this, he was using a piece of pottery to scrape himself while sitting among the ashes. Not a pleasant experience.

And to make matters worse, three friends come by to sit with him.  Their names were Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.  There was a serious back and forth between Job and his three friends.  Each time one of his friends spoke, Job would respond.  And it seems each series of talks became more and more negative.  In chapter 19, Job is responding to the comments of Bildad found in the previous chapter.  Bildad seemed offended by the words of Job.  Some of Bildad’s words are, “How long will you hunt for words? Show understanding and then we can talk. Why are we regarded as beasts, As stupid in your eyes?” Job 18:2-3.  And, “The light in his tent is darkened, And his lamp goes out above him. His vigorous stride is shortened, And his own scheme brings him down. For he is thrown into the net by his own feet, And he steps on the webbing.” Job 18:6-8.  These three friends believed his trials were on account of his sins and that God was punishing him. 

Job then responds to his friends, particularly Bildad, with strong words of his own.  “How long will you torment me And crush me with words? These ten times you have insulted me; You are not ashamed to wrong me. Even if I have truly erred, My error lodges with me.  Know then that God has wronged me And has closed His net around me.” Job 19:2-6.  He hits back on Bildad, but then at the end, he says even if I have erred, it is God who has wronged me.  He then goes on to say God has stripped him of any honor he had, and He is breaking him down and has uprooted his hope.  He goes as far as stating, “He has also kindled His anger against me And considered me as His enemy.” Job 19:11.

Next, he asks his friends to feel bad for him.  “Pity me, pity me, O you my friends, For the hand of God has struck me. Why do you persecute me as God does, And are not satisfied with my flesh?” Job 19:21-22.  He feels he has been wronged and accused of hypocrisy.  He was letting out what he was feeling, however, his words were taken as something evil.  He then wishes his words were written to show others that he was struggling and was not as his friends portrayed him.  He was not being hypocritical but was expressing his thoughts and feelings. 

Job then abruptly breaks away from his previous sentiments.  He now settles back and says in our focus verse, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” Job 19:25.  He is essentially telling his friends that you may think I acted improperly, accusing me of being utterly wrong and hypocritical.  However, I know my redeemer lives.  The word redeemer is translated from the Hebrew word go’el, which refers to the kindred redeemer.  He believed that no matter how difficult things could be, He would redeem Him in the end.  This could be a prophetic word referring to Christ, but it could also refer to his current life.  He was confident in that, and he was to wait patiently for Him.

I want to encourage us to always remember as well that our Redeemer lives.  The one who died for us to pay the penalty for our sins and will come back to take us home.  We all go through difficult times, and with the enemy coming for us, we will continue to experience hard times.  But in the midst, we must always remember that our redeemer lives.  If we find ourselves being accused by people as being sinful and that is the reason for our trials, remember we know what we actually believe and that our redeemer lives. Therefore, do not focus on the problems and trials,  but focus on God, our redeemer and friend.  He will always bring us through and never leave or forsake us.  This is the best way to look at these situations for He will bring us through, both now and for eternity.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.