23 December – Additional Notes

REVELATION 2: EVERLASTING CHRISTMAS GIFTS I

With another Christmas upon us, and another mad rush to the shops as parents go into debt yet again to buy the latest gadgets for the children, my mind seems to settle today on the concept of gifts that don’t last. Two of our children have birthdays immediately after Christmas. So, the idea of another stack of presents so soon after receiving a bunch of gifts, has always seemed “over the top” extravagant.

And yet, at the start of this 66th book, that we’ve covered in my Breadcrumbs this year, “over the top extravagance” has always – and quite noticeably – been Father God’s style in HIStory.[a] In today’s chapter for example, we’ve stumbled across six everlasting Christmas Gifts. Each are given to a group of people dotted about in Asia Minor (what is now modern-day Turkey) during the 1st Century AD. I’ve learnt three things today from the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands… [v1]

  1. That Everlasting Christmas Gifts actually exist and that our Maker is freely giving them away.
  • The gift of eating from the Tree of LIFE. [v7] Apart from the Book of Proverbs (and using the phrase in a philosophical sense), this chapter is the first time in HIStory that the Tree of Life gets a mention outside its important role in our original paradise: our original ecosystem at the dawn of creation.[b] So, the whole of human history is about to complete a full circle: the Circle of Life. For the first time since time began, we’ll be back where we started from, with full and eternal access to the Tree of Life.
  • In likeness, the second everlasting gift is the Victor’s Crown of LIFE. [v10] Instead of a pump in our chest that gives temporal life to our central nervous system, the heads of the victor’s will be crowned with LIFE so that those who are victorious in this life, will not be hurt by the second death. [v11]
  • The third everlasting gift is hidden manna. [v17] This is a reference to eternal food that our spirits live on.[c] But the use of the word “hidden” indicates an ability to access, ingest, understand, and take possession of the Creator God’s Eternal Words[d] that are sharper than a double-edge sword[e] – His unfathomable knowledge that’s currently inaccessible to us.  “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.” [Is.45:3]
  • The forth everlasting Christmas gift is a white stone with a new name written on it. This indicates for us that we really are a new creation, the old human created from dust has definitely gone and the new one, now completely clean and as solid as a white stone has come.[f] The fact that no-one knows the name except the one who receives it, indicates complete intimacy between us and our Maker. When He who has called the stars by name[g] calls us by name, there’ll be no greater intimacy.[h]
  • The fifth gift is authority to rule. [v26-27] This is not knew information, we were originally designed specifically to rule over the Creator’s created order.[i] It was a gift bestowed on Father God’s human image-bearers back at the beginning of time, and it is a gift at the end of time – not earnt, not deserved, not bought or paid for even with a bribe. What’s incredible here is that we’ll be given the iron sceptre that was given to Jesus – the sceptre of justice; the sceptre of the Creator’s Kingdom.[j]
  • The sixth everlasting gift is the Morning Star. [v28] Again, this is something that only He holds by the authority of the Creator[k], and yet He is willing to share it with us.
  1. With all that said, there are now several things that I need to keep central in my choices and lifestyle as I look forward to my life lived out in another new year.
  • I need to put to the test those who claim to represent the Creator God [v2], and I need to toil in perseverance so that I endure for His Name’s sake without growing weary. [v5]
  • In a culture and society that proclaims “tolerance”, I need to not tolerate evil people – even hating the practices that a contrary to my Maker’s Handbook. [v6]
  • In tribulation and poverty, I need to understand how rich I am in my Maker’s hands. [v9]
  • When looking back even if that means looking back at yet another rotten year and horribly lonely Christmas, I don’t need to fear suffering or testing, because the Creator’s story isn’t finished yet. [v10]
  • In a corrupted world, I need to hold fast to my Maker’s Name and not deny my faith in Him even when evil things happen around me. [v13]
  • I need to keep doing good deeds, remaining in love, faith, and service so that my good deeds grow and not diminish in time. [v19]
  1. As I look forward to a new year, there are several things to avoid.
  • I need to hold onto my first love[l], doing the deeds I did when I first came to faith in my Maker. [v4]
  • I should watch for people who may even be inside my faith group who have wrong teaching – a stumbling block to Believers by their impaired testimony, who may even be committing acts of immorality. [v14]
  • In a world where the goal posts are continually changing, I need to not tolerate false “prophecy” – teaching and so-called divine inspiration that leads the Creator God’s servants astray, especially into acts that have always been previously understood  in past generations as “immorality”. [v20]

I’ve not done the Tour of the Seven Churches of Revelation in Turkey. I’ve only been to Ephesus and Smyrna. But it’s shocking to think that the lampstands of all seven churches were removed just as Jesus warned! Peering from a bus window at the rippling mirage-covered landscape, we passed surreal sights like a single pillar from the ancient past rising high from the long grass in a field where life once thrived. Having seen such sights with my own eyes, the noticeable phrase in today’s chapter that’s repeated with every group of people written to, is: “But to those who overcome – or, to those who are victorious – I will give…”

Because of this, and His call for me to keep going, keep standing, keep dancing even in dire situations, I enter into this Christmas season thanking my Maker that His Word of HOPE that isn’t fairy tales based on outlandish dreams of a “paradise” soaked with our own greedy desires. There’s a Masterplan quite outside human imaginings that has been preserved and handed down in HIStory. For, “no eye has seen nor ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him…” [1Cor.2:9) All of it has been written in the fullness needed over more than fifteen centuries by more than 40 different people. And yet, despite the broad spectrum of testimonies, the evidence put forward is completely consistent, harmonious, coherent and therefore completely believable.

CLICK to return to today’s “Daily Breadcrumbs”

[a] Deuteronomy 28:1-14

[b] Genesis 2:9 and Genesis 3:17,22&24

[c] Exodus 16

[d] Isaiah 45:3

[e] Hebrews 4:12

[f] 2 Corinthians 5:17

[g] Psalm 147:4

[h] Exodus 33:17; Psalm 91:14; Isaiah 43:1&49:1; John 10:3

[i] Genesis 1:26-28

[j] Numbers 24:17; Psalm 45:6; Hebrews 1:8; Revelation 12:5&19:15

[k] Revelation 22:16

[l] Deuteronomy 6:5

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