• Service times

    Services times are:

    Saturday night 7:30 pm for our Chinese/English service. (Pastor Daniel Choi.)

    Sunday 10 am for our English language service (Senior Pastor Jeff Whittaker).

    Sunday 11:30 am for our Chinese (Mandarin) language service. (Pastor Daniel Choi.)

  • Contact details…

    Physical and postal address:
    4 Inverary Avenue,
    Epsom,
    Auckland 1023,
    NEW ZEALAND.

    Email:
    epsombaptist@clear.net.nz

    Telephone:
    (0064 9) 6306010

    Contacts:
    Rev. Jeff Whittaker
    Pastor Daniel Choi

  • Church Officers…

    Church Treasurer: Ann Guan

    Church Secretary: Margaret Whittaker

    Church Deacons: Anne Bartley, Ian de Stigter, Kristy Choi, Willa Hui, Donglan Zhang and Alfred Zhou.

More on the seals of Revelation…

On June 7 2016 I blogged on the seals of the book of Revelation. Let me explore this subject a little more. Revelation chapter 6 and chapter 8 verse 1 describe the Lamb breaking open the seals on a scroll. But this is not the only mention of seals. In chapter 7 verses 1 through 8, 144,000 from the tribes of Israel are listed and described as having been sealed on their foreheads. Now, placed in the interlude between the opening of scroll seals numbers 6 and 7, this sealing of the 144,000 cannot be accidental. Christopher Rowland, in his commentary from The New Interpreter’s Bible series comments that he considers the sealing theme to be being used in a different way in chapter 7. I wonder. The New Bible Dictionary states: Metaphorically the seal stood for what is securely held… This sense of sealing can fit both usages. In terms of the scroll seals, it is God’s judgment on human sin that is securely held, until the seals are broken open that is. In terms of the 144,000, these representative servants of God – a remnant? – are securely held by God and protected. (There is a resonance with the marking of those who sigh and groan over sin from Ezekiel 9: 4 – 5.) Further, these sealed ones are the antithesis of those bearing the mark of the beast as described elsewhere in the book of Revelation.

seven-seals-of-revelation

By inference, then, I think we can assume that the interlude between trumpets 6 and 7 – Revelation 10: 1 – 11: 14 – also relates to the trumpet series.

With the seals and trumpets, it’s as if in the light of the disasters let loose by the first 6 of each in the series the question is posed: Who could possibly survive? The answer is: God’s servants; the prophets and all those who fear God’s name, both small and great (Revelation 11: 18).

As Laurie Guy states in his new book ‘Unlocking Revelation,’ the book of Revelation was written to encourage the saints experiencing hardship and persecution in the late first century. Thus, the interludes between seals 6 and 7 and between trumpets 6 and 7 would have been incredibly encouraging. These believers would have been reassured that, despite their desperate circumstances, their lives were indeed safely hidden with God in Christ. Here is a hopeful message that can be heard afresh in our day, especially by the church in parts of the world where persecution and suffering is experienced daily.

Feed my lambs…

In February, I blogged about the structure of John’s gospel. I contended that John’s gospel is written with a chiastic structure. Today I want to explore part of that chiasm. In particular, I want to look at John 1: 19 – 34 and contrast this with John 21: 15 – 19.

In John 1: 19 – 34, John the Baptist is asked: “Who are you?” He answers with three negations. First he confesses that he is not the Messiah. Next he states that he is not Elijah. Then he tells his interlocutors that he is not the prophet. A few verses later, John the Baptist affirms Jesus three times. First, he declares: “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Then he describes how Jesus is the One who baptizes people with the Holy Spirit. Finally John the Baptist testifies that Jesus is the Son of God. So we have here three clarifications about who he – John the Baptist – is not, followed by three affirmations as to who Jesus is.

In John 21: 15 – 19, Peter is asked three times if he loves Jesus. (This of course follows from Peter’s three-fold denial of Jesus in John 18. Chiastically, this part of John 18 pairs with John 3: 22 – 35 where Jesus is again affirmed by John the Baptist, although not with a clear three-fold pattern. Nevertheless, the chiastic pattern does seem to contrast John the Baptist – in the earlier chapters of the gospel – with Peter – in the later chapters.) Each time Peter responds positively, although in the Greek he uses a weaker word for love than that used by Jesus. And each time Peter is given a charge by Jesus: ‘Feed my lambs’, ‘tend my sheep,’ and then ‘feed my sheep.’

Lambs on Iona.

Lambs on Iona.

I wonder if this charge to Peter doesn’t anticipate the pressure that Jesus knew would come upon the Early Church. Who better to prepare young believers experiencing persecution to stand firm in their faith and not deny Jesus than the one – Peter – who knew the agony of denial and yet also the astringent joy of forgiveness and reinstatement. How would we deal with these pressures if they were to come upon us?