Dear Cornerstone brothers and sisters,
A dear brother reminded me yesterday of the verse from Lamentations, “God’s compassions do not fail; they are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.” What a glorious reminder. God’s mercies are new each morning – they are new this morning! Our God is faithful! Perhaps some of your weeks are not unfolding as you though they would … meditate on this truth from God’s word. God’s mercies are new each and every day.
A few reminders:
Remember to invite friends and neighbors to worship this Lord’s Day as the sermon will have a strong evangelistic angle.
Also, we will be having subway sandwiches for our fellowship lunch this Sunday; but we will need a few families to bring chips, drinks, and dessert.
Men, our monthly fellowship will be next Saturday, 10/12, at Matt Brueggeman’s home. Details to follow.
Finally, this week’s devotional is a reflection from a chapter that is often the source of much disagreement in the church, Revelation 20.
“The Bound Serpent”
Revelation 20:2-3a, “And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years … so that he might not deceive the nations any longer.”
Revelation 20 is passage that stands at the center of much dispute and disagreement within the church. When taken in proper context, however, Revelation 20 – the “millennium chapter” – can provide the believer great encouragement; and in fact, can provide a proper missionary impulse for the church. In other words, when Revelation 20 is reduced to little more than a point for dispute, its significance for the church is obscured at best, and completely lost at worst.
I want to consider Rev 20:1-3 along four lines of thought: who is described; what is he doing; when is he doing this; and what does it mean for us. First, who is described? Verse 1 tells us that an angel came from heaven holding a key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. This angel is the Lord Jesus Christ. The key and chain in his hand symbolize power and authority. Second, what is he doing? Verse 2 tells us that Christ seized the dragon, bound him for a thousand years, threw him into the pit, shut it and sealed it over him. Simply put, Christ devastates Satan. This verse describes a great hindering of Satan due to the work of Christ. Third, when is Christ doing this? In other words, when was Satan bound? When was Satan devastated in this way? Here the gospels give us invaluable clues to this question. Specifically, Matt 12:28-29 point us in the right direction. In Matt 12:28-29, Jesus describes his casting out of demons and his binding the strong man using the exact same language used in Rev 20:2-3. In other words, the binding of Satan described in Rev 20:2-3 took place at Christ’s first coming. Christ’s first coming (including his life, death, resurrection, and outpouring of the Spirit) devastated Satan – it dealt him a mortal blow. But one might respond, “It sure doesn’t look like Satan is bound.” Indeed that is a fair response; but we need to look carefully at what the text tells us in Rev 20:3, “and bound him … so that he might not deceive the nations any longer.” Christ’s binding of Satan is for a specific purpose. Namely, the expansion of the gospel to the ends of the earth. Yes, Satan is still active. But his activity is severely limited, especially when viewed in contrast to his activity of blinding sinners in Old Testament times. Think of it this way: in Old Testament times, the entire earth was blinded to the truth except for a small nation on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea (Israel) and a few isolated souls (Rahab, Ruth, etc); but turn the pages to the New Testament and what do we find? We find Christ disarming and binding Satan on the cross! And we find the gospel advancing to the nations!
There are two brief applications we should take from this truth. First, may we pray passionately for our missionaries! This is the age of gospel expansion! Satan is no longer able to deceive wholesale entire nations. Yes, there are spiritually dark corners of the globe; but we are called and empowered by the Spirit to take the gospel to those very places … knowing that Christ has his sheep throughout the world! And second, may we take the gospel across the street to our neighbors. May this passage and the knowledge of Christ’s devastating blow to the devil in his first coming spur is to evangelism. May it give us a holy zeal to sow the seed of the gospel far and wide!