Revelation 19-22

The last day of reading, but certainly not the last day of asking questions.   This passage fosters a few more questions, and provides us with some incredible glimpses into heaven.
I would say the book is aptly named.  “Revelation” seems appropriate, because it reveals God’s plan for the end of time, it reveals God’s nature, it reveals what heaven looks like and what the plans of satan are.   It reveals the power and majesty of Jesus above all else.
If I had to summarize all of chapter 19 with a sentence, it would be “Celebration after Judgement”.   Actually, I’m not really sure that qualifies as a sentence…but you get the point.   I get the distinct feeling from reading chapter 19 that “it’s over”, but that doesn’t appear to be right.    One thing I can’t seem to understand is the constant celebration going on in heaven before the final victory is won.   I have decided to process it this way:    Yesterday I was watching the highlight reel from the Browns-Steelers game.  Before I began I already knew that the Steelers had won, so I was relaxed…even when the score was close.   And everytime Pittsburgh made a great play, I was celebrating….because I knew how it ended, so my attitude was celebratory from the beginning.    Maybe it’s like that.
Babylon has fallen, and the smoke rises up to heaven.    That sounds like a decisive victory for God…yet still the devil and his armies are preparing to wage war.  In verse 19 of Chapter 19 a great battle is described.    I think they are talking about Armageddon….this would mark the third reference to a great battle… first there was the second swipe of the sickle, then the battle of Armageddon, and now this battle.    I want to say they are all the same battle, and John is describing the same event from a different angle.   But since John clearly says “after this I saw…” it makes you wonder.     There could be three battles I guess.
The chapter that makes no sense.    The devil is defeated, but he is released in 1,000 years.   The martyred dead rise, but not the other dead.  So, those who died peacefully won’t be part of the 1,000 year reign of Christ?   What about the people who are born during this 1,000 year reign?   Will they have the opportunity to go to heaven?    Will anyone be born?  There must be births… many people could there be left on the earth after all the meteors, famine, war and other things?     And, what is the point of all this?   The devil is released only to rebel again.   Is he receiving another chance?
Either way his fate is sealed here.  He fights and loses against Jesus and is condemned to the lake of fire forever.
Verse 11 and following:  
Now all the dead have arisen…which makes me wonder what Jesus was talking about when He told the thief on the cross “today you will be with me in paradise”.   How could that be, if the dead are only being raised now?    
Maybe verse 14 gives us a clue.   The grave is a temporary holding place that eventually is thrown into the permanent place of suffering… the lake of fire.   So those who are “in the grave” may not be unaware…they are simply in a place other than here.   I understand that one half of the “grave” is a good place, and the other half is punishment.   The good half would be called “paradise” and that’s where Jesus and the Thief were reunited.   The thief stayed there until the resurrection of the dead, but Jesus left and came back to life earlier  ‘the first fruit of all those who have fallen asleep”. (1 Cor 15:20).     The church has long believed in a place called “purgatory”….but we differ from the Catholics in that we don’t believe your fate can be changed once you are there.   The story of Abraham,Lazarus ad the Rich man in (Luke 16:19-31) seems to confirm that.
The old heavens (sky) and earth are gone…so is the sea.  It could be the sea of Galilee, or the Med.  Or all seas.   I think what’s happened here is that God has restored the earth to Eden properties.   There won’t be any need for rain, and the whole earth will be lush and green and tropical.
Vs.4:   since sin is gone forever, death, sorrow, pain and sadness are also gone.   We will eventually forget what it was like to be sad or lonely, or what it felt like to be in pain.
It”s never nighttime in the new city.  We must not need to sleep either.   It will always be light, and we will never be tired.   This is obvious but bears repeating:  Only those whose name’s are written in the Book of Life may enter into heaven.  The only way that your name is written in the Book of Life is to confess your sins and live in obedience to Jesus.   There are no exceptions and no shortcuts.    
The river of life flows from God, and He is the source of healing and sustenance.     In verse 17 the word “anyone” is repeated three times.   When something is repeated several times like that, you know it’s important.   God is telling us that “anyone” can be saved and have their name written in His book of life.    Anyone can be on the winning side of this battle with evil.
The choice is yours.
Today marks the end of a year long journey through God’s Word.   It has been rich, and at times there was so much to read and think about that we weren’t able to do it justice in this blog.   In fact, I think it’s fair to say that we couldn’t do it justice even if we talked about it the rest of our lives.   That’s how rich God’s Word is.   It is a never ending pool of wisdom and insight.
I have enjoyed the journey, and will certainly do it again sometime…but not in 2018.    I think I would like to read on prayer and a few other spiritual disciplines to help grow me spiritually this year.
May all who read this be blessed by Jesus!