Thu, Jan 31st - 1:00PM
STUDY IN REVELATION
And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful(17:12-14).
Here we are being given more details that match up with other prophecy in the scriptures. The Antichrist is being designated here, he is the "little horn" from in Daniel. In Daniel's vision this "little horn" puts down three other horns, that is, three kings. That is how he comes into power. You should compare a reading of Daniel 7:8, 24 with these verses here in Revelation. These ten kings are not successive rulers, they all rule together. Antichrist is not one of the ten kings, he is in addition to the ten kings. Now, we are also informed that even as these ten kings will rule simultaneously they will also rule for a very brief time. This remains consistent with what we have seen so far in this book. These ten rulers are enpowered by the Beast, then they are absorbed completely into his one-world government that mandates worship of only him and then Satan. They probably will feel that they are important in their own right, but in reality they are just pawns in the grand scheme of things happening during the End Times.
These ten kings are also said to make war with the Lamb. They will declare outright war with Jesus Christ! Imagine the audacity. We are so mighty that we can defeat God Himself in open warfare! What arrogance! What ignorance. We are told that the Lamb will defeat them in the future, not right this very moment in scriptureal time, but very soon. Then we see an incredible statement made. "They that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful." This statement informs us that none choose under their own power since we all must be called by God first. If we choose to ignore His call, that is one thing. If we choose to listen, and heed His call then we gain the opportunity to choose His free gift of love. If we accept His free gift of love then we are presented with another opportunity to remain faithful to God the remainder of our lives, however long or short that may be. If we remain faithful then we are going to be numbered among those who are found with Him here in verse 14.
And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
This refers us back to verse 1 of this chapter where the harlot is seen sitting upon many waters. John is being given the explanation for all of this. So now we can know for sure that the "woman" sits upon nations, ethnic groups, and empires. She is not from any one nation or ethnic group, although she does have members from all nationalities. She is independent of all nationalities and yet exerts great influence over all nations. At this point we see shared political and religious rule over mankind. It shall not last very long.
I will stop there. Next time we will look at the ten horns again along with the destruction of the woman. Until then, beloved, become watchmen over your families, your congregations, and your communities. Satan roams about seeking whom he may devour, it is imperative that we become our brothers' keepers. Otherwise how can we tell our Lord that we have loved even our enemies?
Wed, Jan 30th - 12:21PM
STUDY IN REVELATION
How are these headings working for you all? Are they helping you follow along and not get lost on other postings? Forgive me for not thinking of the headings sooner, I do not think of everything, by a long shot!
And here is the mind which hath wisdom, The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.
And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition(17:9-11).
The mere use of the phrase "which hath wisdom" tells all of us that there is to be difficulty and complexity with what is to be revealed. Spiritual wisdom is to be required of the reader if they are to understand what is pictured here. A key here is the seven heads. We are told that these heads represent seven mountains. We could immediately jump to the easy conclusion that this just has to refer to Rome which was built upon seven hills. But the fact that the woman sits upon these mountains makes for some trouble in supporting this concept. The woman represents the apostate church and she wasn't around when Rome first rose to power. Those who hold this interpretation of the seven mountains also feel that the seven kings have to come from the Roman Empire, that individuals are being referred to in these verses. Perhaps not.
Joseph Seiss has put together a convincing grouping of evidence that these seven mountains refer not to the seven hills of Rome but rather to successive imperial governments. First of all, Rome was built upon seven hills, not mountains. In scripture a mountain is one of the prominent images used to represent a kingdom, empire, or established authority. In Psalm 30:7 David spoke of his mountain standing strong, and in Jeremiah 51:25 God spoke of Babylon as a mountain. Also in Daniel 2:35 the kingdom of our Messiah is likened to a stone that has become a great mountain. But on top of this we were also told that these are not physical mounds of granite for the woman sits upon them. So we can discard the idea that this talks only about Rome, or just about the Papacy of Catholicism. Neither have seven mountains. Dr. E. W. Hengstenberg, a Berlin professor, has said that Rome cannot possibly be meant. Rome Papal cannot be meant, for it has no such count of seven regal powers. Rome Christian cannot be meant for it never supported and carried the great harlot in any possible sense, and could not without ceasing to be Christian. Rome Pagan cannot be meant for it ceased to exist with the conversion of the throne and no count of emperors or kings can be found to "respectably" fill out the angel's description.
We must be careful to remember that this woman is not an empire, she "rides" upon empires. She inspires, leads, and controls them; she is not of them so that is why they court her. Her control comes not from laws but from the rituals and rites that she uses to enslave people. She is long-lived, she outlives the empires that she rides upon. So these seven mountains must fill up the entire interval of time or of history. Seven is itself the number of fulness, which includes the whole of its kind. Since the reference is to temporal dominion, to empires, it must therefore take in all of them. I think that you will begin to realize to what prophecy we are being drawn back to. John was told that five are fallen, dead, passed away historically. "The one is" was the one that was in existance in the time of John, it was in power. What mountain was in power in John's lifetime? None other than the Roman Empire. This then establishes that the seventh kingdom is yet to come, and when it does come it will last a short time. The other five kingdoms are these: Greece, Persia, Babylon, Assyria, and Egypt. The implication was that since the seventh will last but a short time then the previous six lasted long times. And we find this to be true in each case. In Daniel he states the number less, but he started with his own times and only looked toward the future. We are given an account in chapter 17 which looks backward as well as forward. The visions of Daniel and of John harmonize with each other. They must since they come from the same Divine Mind.
Thus we can then see that the harlot has been carried along on the backs of these seven world empires throughout history. The woman has been supported by each of these empires as their pride and joy. Each empire had favorite pagan religions that they hoisted high but they all had a common culture of idolatry. They each were the lovers, supporters, and defenders of organized falsehood in religion, the patrons of idolatry, the patrons of spiritaul harlotry.
Verse 11 tells us that the beast, when he comes, will be the eighth and is one of the seven. He is the mimicry of God's Messiah; "that was, and is not, and yet is." Satan ever tries to befuddle us with fake versions of the genuine article.
Next time I will cover the ten horns, until then remain true and faithful to the Son of God, beloved.
Tue, Jan 29th - 12:53PM
STUDY IN REVELATION
In response to a comment I received recently, I am trying to shorten each message. Hopefully I can consistently do so. Pray for me, please. Okay, let's get back to Revelation chapter 17.
And I saw athe woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns(17:6-7).
"Drunken with the blood of the saints." The harlot is intoxicated by her acts of persecution as well as making others drunk. As we near the end of this age of grace, all believers can expect ever increasing difficulty to stand firm for the Word of God and for all things of Christ. We see God pushed out of our public school classrooms, and wonder at why there is more disbelief now than 40 years ago. We see God pushed out of our government, and wonder at why there is so little integrity and morality today as compared to 40 years ago. We see God being pushed out of our families, and wonder why there is so little respect for one another compared to 40 years ago.
"The saints" could refer to the Old Testament believers, or it could be making a distinction in the Great Tribulation. It could very well be a dividing line that we see here, for immediately following this phrase is "the martyrs." Saints, martyrs. If I am a saint but do not die by someone else's hand who hates God, then I am not a martyr. Before Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus he had been creating lots of martyrs. They were saints, but they also were martyrs. Once we get into the Great Tribulation saints will become martyrs on a regular basis. I think that we might be seeing those souls who were persecuted by apostate Christendom over the centuries(saints) and those who are persecuted unto death during the end days. The history of the church has amply demonstrated that the apostates are ever unsparing in their persecution of those who attempt to hold to a true faith, an apostolic faith, in Christ.
John said that he was amazed at this woman. It made him wonder at it all. Thankfully, an angel is present who can enlighten him, and us. This angel is to declare to John, and us, what the mystery of the woman and of the beast is. He will describe the beast first, then the woman, and finally the action that relates to her.
The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is(17:8).
First, we are given a chronological explanation of the beast. He was, is not, and shall be. Sound somewhat familiar? The bottomless pit (abyssos) is the home of Satan and his demons and indicates that the power of this beast is satanic in origin and in nature. This was first told to us back in 13:4. The word perdition (Greek, apoleia) means "destruction" or "utter destruction," referring to eternal damnation. The magnitude of power displayed by this political empire and its leader which will inspire awe and wonder are indicated in the questions in 13:4.
Now, there is a confusing similarity between the several descriptions given Satan who was described as the king over the demons in the abyss (9:11), "the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit: (11:7), the beast whose "deadly wound was healed" (13:3), and the beast of 17:8. This is solved by observing that there is an identification of sorts of Satan with the future world ruler and identification of the world ruler with his world government. Each of them are described as a beast. Only Satan actually comes from the abyss, isn't he? The satanic world government arises from here on earth. The world ruler receives his power and great authority from Satan. The two being referred to in such similar terms highlights their very close relationship one to another.
Rather than assuming that this verse confirms the resurrection of some historical figure, such Judas Iscariot, Nero, or Hitler, it is more consistent with overall prophecy to regard this as being the picture of the revived imperial government, not an imperial ruler. Remember, we spoke before about how the Roman Empire never was destroyed but was simply fallen apart. It was, and is not, yet it still shall be again. Wonder of wonders! How could this be? These are what people are going to be saying.
Next time we shall see, and find out about, the seven heads of the beast. You may be surprised by what I conclude on this subject. Until then, continue to look forward to your hope. Continue to study God's Word and apply it to yourself. Spread the Gospel everywhere you go. We are but strangers in a strange land, pilgrims on our way to the Promised Land. May each and everyone of you find your way safely there.
Mon, Jan 28th - 12:55PM
MY INNER GARDEN
WHY ARE SO MANY PEOPLE DRIVEN?
There are those who grew up in environments where "well done" was never heard. When acceptance and affirmation is lacking, it is by no stretch of imagination for the respect-starved person to conclude that more work, greater accumulation of symbols of success, or worldly praise will finally convince the significant person who withheld approval to finally say, "You are not a bum after all, you are not worthless, or a loser. I am proud of you, well done."
Too many people in leadership positions share this type of background and insecurity. If they cannot gain approval from the original person who withheld it when they were a child, then they usually develop an insatiable appetite for applause, wealth, and power in order to compensate for the loss. Satisfaction is rarely obtained however, the hole is rarely filled up. All of their pursuit is in the outer world, their private world is left empty and wanting.
There are those who had an early experience of serious deprivation or shame. Paul Tournier in his book, "Creative Suffering," points out that apparantly an enormous number of world leaders over the past few centuries have been orphans. They grew up in a context of personal loss in terms of intimate parental love and emotional closeness, it would seem then that they tried to compensate by seeking the "warm embrace" of the crowds. If I cannot have the acceptance and love of the individual, then I will have the acceptance, adoration, and applause of the masses over whom I rule. It may be that simple with most of these leaders. People who have experienced great shame or embarassment tend to be driven to overcome it, to obliterate it from their lives. They do not wish for it to ever happen to them again. They may go to great lengths to try and convince themselves and those around them that everything is just fine, but the cracks do show on the surface of their outer world, originating within their inner worlds where the shame and embarssment still exist and drives them to erradicate it from their outer lives. As you are probably thinking already, this leads to an enormous amount of stress on the person involved.
Finally, there are some people who are simply raised in an environment where drivenness is an actual way of life. I suppose we could call them "second generation" driven people. They have learned it from watching their parents. Common to all of three of these groups is the thought that an ordered private world has very little meaning. The outer, public world is worth giving attention to for it is here that things can be measured, admired, and used. The scarey thing about this is that any of us can be driven people. The pastor, the policeman, the doctor, the homemaker, the student. The question then arises, "Can the driven person change?" The answer can be found from the life of Saul of Tarsus. Before meeting Christ on the road to Damascus Saul was driven. He studied, he joined, he attained, he defended, he persecuted, and he was applauded. He was driven by an elusive goal of erradicating all Christians. He was driven until Christ called him. Saul was struck blind by Christ's light and his attitude changed immediately. He had to appraise his motives and values, just as Peter had been forced to do so in his encounters with Jesus. He had to spend some extended time in the desert to get re-educated by the Holy Spirit. He had to surrender some things, things that were not bad but had been important for all of the wrong reasons. Perhaps he even had to ask for forgiveness from survivors of those he had previously persecuted even to death. And that was just the beginning of what Saul had to do in his conversion from being driven to being called.
MEMO TO THE DISORGANIZED:
If my private world is in order, it will be because I see myself as Christ's steward and not as the master of my purpose, my role, and my identity.
I thank Gordon MacDonald for his book, Ordering Your Private World. It is an incredible book that opened up my eyes to things that I had been doing wrong. I hope that these posts will help others to see that something vitally important is missing from their lives, and that they will seek it out and cultivate it back to health.
Fri, Jan 25th - 8:52PM
Study in Revelation.
And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH(17:4-5).
The description of this woman as clothed in purple and scarlet and decked out with gold, precious stones, and pearls is quite familiar to anyone acquainted with the trappings of the religious pomp of high officials in the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches. Purple and scarlet, symbolically so rich in meaning when connected with true spiritual values, are prostituted to this false religious system and designed to glorify it with religious garb in contrast to the simplicity of pious adornment as stated in I Timothy 2:9-10: "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." As can be seen, this is an extreme contrast.
Also we should note that every senator and consul of the Roman Empire wore a purple stripe as a badge of his position, and the emperor's robes were purple. Scarlet is the color adopted by Roman Catholicism. The outward beauty is being thrust forward while the inner life is revealed as being destitute, empty of any spiritual life in Christ.
The golden cup full of abominations and fornications is an emblem of counterfeit Christianity. It is dazzling, it captures the eye, and it misleads people into believing that they are going to heaven. It is something that creates delusion and deceit. Jeremiah wrote: "Babyon hath been a golden cup in the Lords's hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad"(Jeremiah 51:7).
Upon the woman's forehead is her name written. It is quite an astonishing name, I must say. Mystery is a descriptive reference to the title/name, not a part of the name per se. It is widely held that this woman represents not physical cities, but that she corresponds religiously to what Babylon was religiously. In other words, idolatry will be very evident in the rituals, customs, and general worship practises of this world system. It has been noted by several writers that pagan rites from within Babylonia crept into the early church and were incorporated into Catholicism from which Protestantism separated itself in the Middle Ages. Was Protestantism completely successful? I do not think so.
I know that we live in a time of changing morality, but I am old-fashioned, and I believe that the Word of God is right in its values. I believe that the finest thing in the world is a woman and that God has made her that way. When she marries, she is brought into an intimate relationship in which she can give to a man that which puts him into orbit. Yessir, I do believe that. It comes to my attention that what our civilization has tried to do for a woman has not resulted in liberating her but has enslaved her so that she is more of a sex symbol than ever before. She also has become like a man in the business world, how is that being feminine, or liberated? Instead of taking her rightful place where she can lift a man to the heights, she is stereotyped as the one who pulls him down to the depths. And not only that, but the reverse stereotyping is also done, man pulling woman down into the depths, not allowing her to reach her full potential.
In Ephesians 3:1-6 Paul wrote how the church was a mystery to anyone in the Old Testament. It was not revealed to mankind until Paul wrote about it. In the same manner, mystery Babylon was not revealed to mankind until John wrote about it in this chapter of Revelation. Paul wrote about the mystery of iniquity in II Thessalonians 2:7, how it was already at work. Iniquity was only being held back by God's Holy Spirit.
As from Babylon all other false religions have spread into the world, so this spiritual "Babylon" is the mother of all harlots and abominations in the eyes of God. Notice that in this passage the word "harlots" is indeed plural. There are more than just one adulterous religion present in our world. It is sort of like a brothel. It is interesting to see that a Babylonian presence plagued Israel in ancient times, a Babylonian influence plagued the early church, and to the very end of our age a Babylonian influence will plague us all. It is persistent, and it is adventitious in nature.
I have written earlier about how Nimrod's wife, Semiramis, succeeded him to the throne of Babylon. She also became head of the secret societies, those that used secret religious rites. These secret societies were also known as the Babylonian mysteries. According to records from outside of the bible she gave birth to a son who she claimed was conceived miraculously. She named him Tammuz and he was considered a savior of his people and was, in effect, a false messiah, being esteemed as fulfillment of the promise given to Eve by God. The legend of mother and son was incorporated into the religious rites and these rites spread over a very wide area. Tammuz was supposedly killed by a wild beast and then brought back to life, seemingly a satanic anticipation of Christ's resurrection.
In God's Word many of these details are not mentioned, however, allusions are made to the ongoing conflict between the true faith and this para-religion. In Ezekiel 8:14 protest is made against the ceremony of weeping for Tammuz. In Jeremiah 7:18 mention is made of the heathen practise of making cakes for the queen of heaven, and in Jeremiah 44:17-19, 25 the offering of incense to the queen of heaven. Baal worship was another form of this religious system. Many consider Baal and Tammuz to be one and the same. The prophecy of Zechariah 5:1-11 portrays Babylon as an evil woman, personifying wickedness. The chief priests of the Babylonian cults wore crowns in the form of a fishhead, in recognition of Dagon the fish god, with the title "Keeper of the Bridge" imprinted on the crowns. Of course, the bridge was between man and Satan. The Roman equivalent of the title, Pontifex Maximus, was used by the Caesars and later Roman emperors, and was also adopted as the title for the bishop of Rome. I will leave you to ponder the similarities on your own. Needless to say, the church in Rome became extremely confused and began incorporating mystery religious rites into the church and created a false church of Christ.
It is a sad commentary on our selves that contemporary Christendom shows an overweening desire to return to Rome inspite of its apostasy from true faith in Christ. The liberal churches of our day have far outdone Rome in departing from the early teachings of the apostles. They do not have much to lose by a return to Romanism and so perhaps they will draw Rome even further from the truth over time.
I will stop there for tonight, my friends. Next time we will look at what had John marveled. We will also be given an interpretation of the beast once again. Until then, continue to be faithful to the Word and remember to ask God for all of your needs each day for He will meet your every need, He has promised to do so.
Fri, Jan 25th - 1:00PM
MY INNER GARDEN
In the bible there are few men who can typify the "driven man" better than Saul, the first king of Israel. Our introduction to Saul should be warning enough that this man had some flaws that were going to cause him to lose personal control if he did not make some corrections internally, in his heart. Let's read I Samuel 9:1-2:
"There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah, the son of a Benjamite, a mighty man of valor. And he had a son whose name was Saul, a choice and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people."
Saul had three unearned characteristics in the beginning of his public life that had the potential to be either assets or liabilities. What they would be was his choice. How he made those choices depended upon the daily order of his private, inner world.
What were those three? First, he had wealth; second he had an attractive appearance; and third, he was a physically large and muscular man with no equal. All are attributes of the outer world of a person. The snap impression of Saul was that he was a better man than anyone else around him. All three characteristics commanded attention and obtained him quick advantages. These also combined to give him a sort of charisma that allowed him to achieve some early success without ever developing a sense of wisdom or spiritual stature.
We see that his father, Kish, was a man of mighy valor. Famous, perhaps? The son of such a man can from time to time be given more credit than he really ought to be given. If his dad is a man of valor then his son must be also, just take a look at him! In following verses in I Samuel we learn that Saul was also good with words, he could speak quite well. He did not stumble over his tongue when he spoke and so he expressed himself very well. We are not told that he was a godly man, a fervent follower of God's laws. We do not read about how he always spent time praying to prepare himself before battles. What was going on inside Saul?
When Saul became king he seemed to be unaware that he had any limits to his life. Hey, I am now king! God picked me! Hey, look at me! Scripture does not record him pondering his need for others, working on his relationship with God, or even his responsibilities to the people whom he ruled over.
What immediately happened? Saul became a busy man; he looked around and saw regions that he felt needed conquering. One time, as he faced an upcoming battle with the Philistines, Israel's nemesis back then, he became impatient while he waited at Gilgal for Samuel to come and offer sacrifices. Saul could not wait any longer and felt that his timetable was more important, he needed to get on with things. So he went offered the sacrifices himself.
What was the result of Saul's actions? A very serious breach of covenant with God. God's prophets were appointed to offer sacrifices, not the king. Saul perceived himself as being too important. From that point on Saul found himself on a slippery slope. God no longer supported his rule over Israel, "Now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart"(I Samuel 13:14). Strange, God saying that He seeks out men after His own heart. God knows the importance of ordering the inner man, getting it under one's control.
So Saul's drivenness began to reveal itself more and more. Soon all of his energies were consumed in holding onto his throne, competing with David. Saul's explosive anger lead him into fits of outrage as well as to times of paralysis and self pity. When push came to shove, Saul did not have an inner safe-haven to turn to for strength and reassurance. Saul never came to terms with his drivenness. How long do you think he would have lasted among the twelve disciples Jesus picked?
MEMO TO THE DISORGANIZED:
If my private world is in order, it will be because, having faced up to what drives me, I listen quietly for the call of Christ.
This material comes from Gordon MacDonald's book Ordering Your Private World, interspersed with my own thoughts.
Thu, Jan 24th - 8:06PM
Study in Revelation.
THE APOSTATE CHURCH
It is called mystery Babylon because of its origin. Man tried at the Tower of Babel to rally against God. Under good old Nimrod, Babylon became the origin of all false religions. Finally, the dream of Nimrod will be fulfilled in the first half of the Great Tribulation. The church that should have been the Bride of Christ has become the harlot. It is guilty of spiritual fornication, selling herself to the world for wealth. She says, "I am rich and increased with goods, and I have need of nothing."
Back in chapters 3-4 we saw that the Philadelphian church pictured the true church of Christ. Let us be quite specific. Who is going to be snatched away to be with Christ? Not certain denominations, not just individual churches, but His church, a collective term which means all true believers, those who are in Christ. All of those who say that they are Christians but are thus in name only will remain on earth to endure the Great Tribulation. Now let's get into chapter 17:
And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication(17:1-2).
It is very evident in these two chapters that the events described therein precede by some considerable period the events represented in the seven vials. It is probable that the events of chapter 17 happen at the start of the Great Tribulation. These two chapters are difficult to interpret due to their details. It is helpful to consider chapter 17 as dealing with Babylon as an ecclesiastical or spiritual entity and chapter 18 as dealing with Babylon as a political entity. Also, in chapter 17 it helps to distinguish the vision in verse 1-6 from the interpretation in verse 7-18.
Some feel that Roman Catholicism is this harlot. They do have some justification to think this way, however, I do think that this term refers to more than just the Papal system in Rome. We are told here that the harlot (porne, Greek) sits upon many waters. Later on in verse 15 we are told what the waters refer to. We also are told that the nations of the world have fornicated with this harlot. This could mean an alliance of church and state, something which we Americans have been struggling with the past few decades. For quite sometime there has been a global effort at bringing all religions together in unity. It has gone under the banner of brotherly love, and eccumenicalism. It is extremely dangerous since it allows governments and religion to become one and the same. The American Constitution speaks out against just this sort of arrangement, it preaches separation of church and state. We will see a growing movement towards a universal church which will become enmeshed with world governments. It will then be a mere matter of tipping over the proper "domino" in order to lead this church into controlling the masses on earth. The Thessalonians got a letter from Paul that warned that when someone rejects the love of the truth that they will believe the big lie.
God says that His cup of judgment will be pressed to the lips of the harlot, she will be destroyed, and that this destruction will be by the Beast, the Antichrist. Once the apostate church has done her part, she will be tossed aside by Satan. He will not allow anyone else to be worshipped, only himself.
This concept of purity versus harlotry arises here. If the church is pictured as being the bride of Christ (II Corinthians 11:2) then this speaks of those who claim to be of the "church" and yet clearly do not act as if they are. They are committing spiritual adultery by worshipping and serving other gods. In an alliance of the apostate church with the political powers of the world debauchery of the true spiritual character of the church happens along with compromise of her testimony in every way. This also has the devastating effect of urging religious drunkenness by mankind in general.
So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns(17:3).
John was on the Isle of Patmos, in the Spirit when this vision originally began. He is still in the Spirit as this new vision is given to him to record for our sakes. Perhaps John was wisked away to a literal wilderness upon earth, or not. We are dealing with symbols here and it creates problems in interpretation. I say that he was taken to a literal wilderness to be shown this vision of the harlot sitting upon a beast. This wilderness could also be symbolic of the chaotic condition of the world at that time in the Tribulation. It is most prudent to conclude that this beast is the same as the one found back in 13:1 where the beast is the revived Roman Empire. If she is the apostate church then it means that she will be what initially controls this empire as it comes back into power. That she is riding the beast indicates that it supports her even while she is outwardly in control, directing the beast. Apparantly this vision takes place before that which we see in 13:1 since there the beast is in complete control, demanding worship of itself, while here in our current verse such demands are not being made yet. So we can tie this to Daniel's Seventieth Week, during the first half week.
Some try to connect this verse with the past history of the Roman Catholic church tying itself politically to various nations. The strong inference here is that this is a future event yet to happen.
The seven heads and ten horns are significant in that they repeat what we have already read earlier. The heads refer to forms of government and the ten horns to kings who rule during the end times. The fact that the woman is in such close proximity to the Antichrist indicates how deep the apostasy will finally descend.
That is all for today, my friends. Over the next seven verses we will learn about "mystery Babylon" for we will be given an interpretation of it by God through an angel. Until next time, remain true to Christ, defend His Word, and be thankful in everything.
Thu, Jan 24th - 4:00PM
MY INNER GARDEN
What sort of men did Jesus pick to be His apostles? Were they go-getters? Were they people that everyone else were drawn to? Were they people who were out to change the world? Nope. Those were the ones that He turned down, or away. It ought to make each of us pause, and consider the implications of His actions when He went about choosing the men and women who were to spread His good news.
What these people who were refused by Jesus all seem to have in common was a tendency to want to say when they would start and when they would go. Perhaps they all had private agendas, schemes, and goals that ran counter to God's plans. Perhaps it was a matter of either being "called" by God, or being "driven" from within themselves. Jesus tended to separate people out by this criteria, dealing with their motives, their spiritual energy, and their need for different sorts of gratification.
How can we spot a driven person today? It is quite easy, for all we need look for are the marks of stress. Stress gets alot of attention today. It has created books, research, and trips to the doctor's exam room. Entire careers have been dedicated to the study of stress, and its affects upon us. It is measured in laboratories by scientists, engineers monitor it, doctors attempt to find it in our brain waves. We can pretty much assume that most people in our society are under constant and destructive stress of one form or another. The pace of our lives is ever increasing with less recreational and relaxation time available.
Here are some symptoms of driven people:
(1) A driven person is most often gratified only by accomplishment. The only way for them to feel good about themselves is to accumulate accomplishments.
(2) A driven person is preoccupied with the symbols of accomplishment. They seek to possess power in order to use it. They will be well aware of the symbols of status: titles, office size and location, positions on organizational charts, and special privileges. Who knows about what I am doing? How can I be better connected/networked with the "greats" of my world?
(3) A driven person is usually caught in the uncontrolled pursuit of expansion. They like to be a part of something that is getting bigger and more successful. They rarely have the time to appreciate the achievements to date.
(4) Driven people tend to have a limited regard for integrity. They often become progressively deceitful; not only deceiving others but themselves as well. They lie about motives and values and morals are compromised. They will select the shortcuts to success. The goal is what is important and so enters in ethical sloppiness. They can become extremely pragmatic.
(5) Driven people often possess limited or undeveloped people skills. They are not noted for getting along well with others. Projects are more important than people. People get noticed only if they can be used to attain fulfillment of one of their goals. They get things done, but they may destroy people in the process.
(6) Driven people tend to be highly competitive. They see each effort as a win-or-lose game. They must win, must look good before others. Winning provides this person with validation that they are right, valuable, and important. Others become competitors or enemies in pursuit of the same goals.
(7) A driven person often possesses a volcanic force of anger. This can erupt any time they sense opposition or disloyalty. This anger can be triggered when there is disagreement, there is an offer of an alternative solution to a problem, or even a hint at just a bit of criticism. The anger can surface as violence, verbal brutality, or vindictive acts.
(8) Driven people are usually abnormally busy. They are too busy for the pursuit of personal relationships in marriage, family, or simple friendship.
This then is the picture of a driven person, not a very attractive picture. Much of our world is run by these people, including too many of our churches. Shouldn't we be doing something to help them?
Wed, Jan 23rd - 10:22PM
Study in Revelation.
And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.
And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great(16:17-18).
Here is the last series of seven judgments before the coming of Christ, and this is the seventh and last of the last seven. This judgment is emptied into the air and accompanied by God's voice from the throne in heaven. God Himself proclaims that it is done, finished. Again we are seeing God dealing with Israel since the temple in heaven is mentioned. We are hearing the voice of the second Person of the Trinity, namely Christ. He is basically repeating the same words He uttered on the cross. At this point in history there is no longer any chance for salvation to come to anyone who has not already accepted Christ. The days of grace are done, judgment day has finally come. The lightnings, voices, and thunders all have been seen earlier when the impending judgment of mankind was announced in heaven back in Rev. 4:5.
Why cast this last vial into the air? Perhaps this is done because even though Satan, the prince of the power of the air, has been kicked out of the third heaven he still wields his power throughout the first and second heavens. Now is when God finishes breaking Satan's power within His creation. The result of this vial is shown in the ending verses of this chapter. First to happen is the grand daddy of earthquakes. This earthquake probably will be felt around the entire planet. The Times of the Gentiles are officially coming to an end with this earthquake. It is the announcer.
And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great(16:19-21).
Verse 19 declares that "the great city" is split into parts. A question as to which city this refers to has been raised since Babylon is mentioned later in the verse. Some take it to mean Babylon while others take it to mean Jerusalem. In Revelation 11:8 we might recall that Jerusalem was referred to as "the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified." The great city is not destroyed but is broken into three parts by the earthquake. Babylon is destined to be utterly destroyed and could be done so literally or in a spiritual sense. We can see clearly however, that Babylon is to be given the cup of the wine of the wrath of God. She comes to His remembrance, He recalls her blasphemy throughout the ages. In addition to this is seen the destruction of every city throughout the world. What chaos, what loss of human life will be witnessed at that time. This earthquake apparantly also is so great that islands disappear and the mountains no longer stand tall, all fallen down in rubble. How fierce is God's wrath? Fierce enough to change the topography of the entire world! I dare say it will not be recognizable. The second part of this vial's contents is a great hail storm. A talent weighs about 100 pounds by the Jewish standards. Imagine hailstones weighing 100 pounds falling from the skies. Imagine the impact when they strike the ground around you. Whatever structures still erect after the earthquake will quickly be demolished in this hailstorm leaving humanity with little in the way of shelter and protection. Despite this demonstration of divine power, mankind will refuse to repent. The unmistakeable impression here is that God is leaving mankind with no where to hide from Him and His judgment of them. At this point I do not believe that any person alive will repent, for their hearts will have been hardened and their necks made too stiffnecked for them to ever repent.
The miraculous hailstorm ends the Great Tribulation Period and chapter 16. In chapter 17-18 we will see the judgment of the two Babylons. We are going to see the apostate church in chapter 17, and then we are going to see both a religious and a commercial Babylon in chapter 18.
So many great issues are brought to a critical point in the Great Tribulation that it is hard to keep them separated. It is why we can find so many disagreements over the details, not over the broad system of interpretation. This shouldn't be discouraging to believers since many details will not be fully clarified until the world actually enters the Great Tribulation.
This is evident relative to the two Babylons. The questions that arise are: "Are there two Babylons, and are they in two different geographical locations? Are they representative of two systems? Are they two literal cities, or are they the same city?" Here in chapter 17 it would appear that it is mystery Babylon, the cosmic church, the apostate church. The church of Thyatira, described in chapter 2, which permitted Jezebel to teach, will become the apostate church of this time period. It will attain that goal of the present day apostates of all the great systems of our world: Romanism, Protestantism, pagan religions, cults and "isms." Even within our independent bible churches there will be those who are not true believers, and during this period they will join this great unification church of apostates. The bible calls this group a harlot, a prostitute. The location of this system could be Rome. Geneva, where the World Council of Churches has had its headquarters could also be a possiblity.
Well, it is getting late and so I will end here, beloved. Next time we shall work our way into chapter 17 and learn some details about the apostate church. Until then, walk in wisdom toward all men, redeem your time, let your words be spoken always with grace, that you can deter wickedness around you. Continue in prayer, watching in the same with thanksgiving.
Wed, Jan 23rd - 3:15PM
MEMO TO THE DISORGANIZED:
If my private world is in order, it will be because I am convinced that the inner world of the spiritual must govern the outer world of activity.
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me"(John 15:4).
It can be very hard to understand what Jesus meant when He spoke of abiding in me and of my abiding in Him. It has not been a very simple, or easy, thing for me to understand the process and the purposes by which the Lord wants to remain in my private world. Someting within me resists both His residence and all of the resulting order. That "something" is none other than sin. It prefers a disorder where wrong motives and values can be hidden away and drawn to the surface only in unguarded moments. This disorder is a matter of daily concern in all of our lives.
The private world can be divided into five sections. The first deals with what makes us function the way we do; our motivation. Are we driven people, or are we called people? Another section centers on how we allocate time for the purposes of personal growth and service to others. The third section is intellectual; what are we doing with our minds, that part of us capable of receiving and processing the truth? The fourth section is that of the spirit. This is that special, intimate place where we commune with Christ one on one. This place could be called the garden of our private world. The fifth section is that within us that draws us to rest, to a Sabbath peace. This is so significant that it should be recognized as a uniquely essential source of inner organization and strength.
Many of us today are living lives that are like the sinkholes of Florida. At one time or another many of us perceive ourselves to be on the brink of a sinkhole-like cave-in. Our outer world is mostly physical in nature. We do things out here. Work, play, possessions, parties, exercise, hobbies, and on and on it goes. It is the easiest part of our existence to evaluate in terms of success, popularity, wealth, and beauty. But what about our inner world? Scarey, huh? This world is more spiritual in nature. Here is where choices and values can be determined, where solitude and reflection might be pursued. Here is where we can conduct worship and confession, it is a quiet spot inside of us. Or it should be.
But which of these two worlds gains the majority of our attention each and every day? Because our public world is so visible, so real, we can have serious trouble ignoring all of the seduction and demand coming from that part of our lives. The result is that our inner, private world becomes cheated, shortchanged, neglected because it does not demand as loudly as the public world. We end up ignoring our inner worlds for too long a period of time and we suffer breakdowns, and illness.
Is this a condition only affecting the lost sinners of our world? Not by a long shot, beloved! Are you a Christian worker at your local church who is shouldering multiple jobs? Are you spending several nights each week at meetings, or completing tasks for your congregation? Then perhaps, you are a driven person, and not a called person. You are spending too much time and energy on the public aspect of your life and not spending enough time on the inner aspect of your life. Christians get caught up in more seminars, conferences, classes, programs, until the weight of it all causes your entire life to collapse.
So, what is the inner life? Socrates said once upon a time, "May the outward and inward man be one." I suppose you could say that our inner life is like the bridge on a ship. It is the center of command. If the center is cluttered, disorganized, and panics each time demands are placed upon it, then the outer world does not operate very smoothly at all. When this center of command is organized, neat, and calm, then when demands are asked of it there is smooth sailing in the outer world of my life. Real ships do collide when the center of command is panicking and disorganized. This is a disaster. The same thing happens in our lives. People end up colliding into each other unnecessarily because each may not be very organized internally. Personal lives can be seen to disintegrate right before our eyes.
Think about the time when Christ was asleep in the rear of the boat with the disciples all getting worried because a storm came upon them all. What did Jesus say to them? "Where is your faith?" He could just as easily asked them, "Why isn't the bridge of your private world in better order?" In Proverbs 4:23 we see this: "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life." What I am calling here the "bridge" is called in Proverbs the "heart." It is seen as a spring, from which flows energy, sustenance, strength. Keep our hearts and we can overcome the outer turbulence.
But what about keeping the heart? We obviously should be concerned with protecting it from the influences of the outer world and not jeopardize its integrity. Keeping or guarding the heart is a deliberate and disciplined choice that we must make. It does not happen by accident, or by waking up one fine morning and discovering that your heart is now guarded. We must choose to protect our heart. We cannot afford to be lazy in protecting it either. We must remember what the captain of a ship does whenever he feels that something is out of the ordinary: he goes to the bridge, the center of command. Why? Because he knows that that is the place where he will find the capability to face danger. It is the same with each of us. Paul told us in Romans 12:2, "...not to be conformed to this[outer] world, but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind." He beseeched his readers to not cater to the outer world but spend more time renewing their minds. You see, we must not allow the outer world to shape us. Our inner selves must shape the outer world. We must put our inner gardens into order, get them cleaned up, straightened out. Then we can have a positive impact on the outer world. Then we can step out in faith for we now know where we can go to talk with God, for we can now find Him within our inner gardens.
That is all for this message, my friends. I hope that it causes you to stop and think about your lives. Perhaps motivate you to make some constructive changes in your daily routines. Perhaps you will choose to make a quiet place where you and Christ can be intimate. I hope and pray that some of you will do so.
Tue, Jan 22nd - 6:38AM
And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty(16:12-14).
This vial has caused more commentary than any of the first five vials before it. The object of this sixth vial is the river Euphrates. The most natural explanation is the best, namely, that this is the judgment that actually dries up all of the water flowing down the river, allowing armies from the east to pass over it later on. This river is one of the prominent rivers of the entire world, it was the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire as well as the prophesied eastern boundary of the Promised Land God gave to the physical seed of Abraham (Genesis 15:18; Joshua 1:4). This river formed part of the cradle of our civilization and it will be the grave of our civilization also.
Over the centuries, various commentators have tried their hand at guessing the identity of the eastern kings that are mentioned in this passage. As many as 50 different interpretations have been put forward! The very number of these interpretations puts the lie to them all. The literal interpretation leaves us with an understanding that the Oriental nations will band together and their huge armed forces will move westward to the land of Israel as has been predicted in the distant past. Why would it be farfetched to think that an army of some two hundred million will come from there? The two most populous nations on the planet, China and India, are there. Japan is a powerhouse technologically and lives on a crowded island chain.
In verses 13-14 we are introduced to the satanic trinity; Satan, antichrist, and the false prophet. As is seen here, they work in unison to forge the world together to march against the Holy Land. There is currently a form of theology that claims to be scriptural, but it takes the position that God is done with the nation of Israel, that all of God's covenants with them are negated, that God does not intend to hold to His promises to Israel, even though there are very many promises throughout the Old Testament. These people spiritualize the promises and give them over to the church when there is insufficient scriptural support to do so. Thin ice so to speak. We need to always remember that Satan wants to destroy these covenants between God and Israel, and this is why he moves among the world's nations and convinces them to march against Israel.
Now what about these frogs? John introduces them with his usual phrase of "and I saw." We could symbolize the frogs into meaning all kinds of things but the passage explains to us exactly what the frogs are. They are unclean spirits, under the command of Satan. One each comes from the antichrist, the false prophet, and Satan himself. They are further identified as being devils who can work miracles. This points out to us the importance of not getting all caught up with reports of the Virgin Mary appearing here or there. Or of miracles being performed in certain locations. Do not think automatically that God or angels must be involved. It could easily be Satan who is doing the miraculous works. At any rate, these three evil spirits are to do the dirty work for Satan in bringing together the world leaders to forge a huge army meant to destroy Israel and everyone there.
There is some difficulty in seeing how a war is possible when there is a world ruler under the control of Satan. Some interpret these verses as a gathering of forces in anticipation of the return of Jesus Christ. It could also reflect dissension amongst member nations of this one world government. Satan might be in control but his influence does not make for model citizens, would it? I do not see how it would. He is a liar, a deceiver, a cutthroat. His hastily put together empire will reflect him. In summary, it would appear that this conflict is pointing to a coming climax of a series of military engagements that are described in Daniel 11:40-45. It is significant that this battle bears the name of "that great day of God Almighty." God's omnipotence will be fully demonstrated to all.
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon(16:15-16).
This opening phrase is for the unbelievers, not for the church. The church is supposed to be alert, watching for His return. We are supposed to be ready to be reunited with Him at any moment of any day. I Thessalonians 5:4 tells all of us that the saints ought not to be taken by surprise when Christ returns. Remember what Christ said in Matthew 24:43 and Luke 12:39 when He compared His return to that of the coming of a thief to rob your home. Recall back in Revelation 3:3 His warning to the church in Sardis and other warnings given in II Peter 3:10. So, saints, are you looking for the glorious return of your Lord and Savior? If not, then He most certainly will come as a thief in the night to you. That means you will suffer losss, for thieves take away something that you currently have.
There has been great discussion concerning the meaning of verse 16. This is the only time that the word Armegeddon occurs in the entire bible. The actual word from the manuscripts should probably be rendered as the "Mount of Megiddo." Armegeddon comes from the Greek, the text here says the place is named according to the Hebrew language and so we should stick with that rendering. The Hebrew term is a compound word made up of the word Har, meaning "mountain", and megiddo, which is a mount in the plain of Esdraelon. It is a place where many battles have been waged in the past. Just to give you an idea of what has happened in this particular area in the past: Barak and the Canaanites fought here in Judges 4, Gideon had victory over the Midianites in Judges 7. This is where Saul and Josiah died. Nebuchadnezzar fought here, Napoleon Bonaparte marched here. The Saracens, Christian Crusaders, Persians, Turks, and Arabs have all marched their armies here.
The "he" of verse 16 could easily be either Satan or God. It does not matter which one it is, for God's plans proceed without detour. The difficulty in taking the historical interpretation of this entire book is indicated by the assertion by one Alexander Hardie who claimed that World War I was Armegeddon. It turned out not to be the last war to be waged on earth, nor even the last "world" war to be waged. Since this battle precedes the future return of Christ to this earth it would seem prudent to also believe that the battle is still in the future.
The relationship between the drying up of the Euphrates and the battle that ensues afterwards sometimes gets connected with the sixth trumpet in 9:13-21. There an army of 200 million is loosed to slay a third of all men. This army is related to the same river as in our current verses. Perhaps the two are the same, but it would not appear to be true. The first army killed supernaturally whereas this army is spoken of in human terms. I believe that scripture is speaking about two different armies.
Well, let's stop there for today, beloved. Next time we shall see the pouring out of the seventh vial/bowl as we finish this chapter. Until next time, praise God each day, no matter what may happen. Keep your eyes on Christ, make yourselves ready for His glorious coming no matter when it may come. Spread the Gospel. Love all saints.
Sun, Jan 20th - 1:35PM
And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory(16:8-9).
Our Lord predicted great signs in the sun during the End Times, "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring"(Luke 21:25). Here we see fulfillment of His predictions for the sun is given the power to scorch men with fire.
Like the fourth trumpet, the fourth vial/bowl is a judgment which affects the heavens, specifically the sun. In the trumpet judgment only a third part of the sun, moon, and stars were affected to cause a darkening of a third part of the day and night. This current judgment is restricted to the sun and increases its power rather than reducing it. It would seem that in Malachi we see reference to this End Time event, "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch"(4:1).
Now in spite of this judgment mankind still remains unrepentent. They will stand before His power and might and remain stiffnecked, hardhearted, refusing to change their ways. So much for any logical argument that might employ the concept that only if people were subjected to the visible application of divine power and might, then they would repent and accept Christ. Not so. They do not desire God, nor anything other than their own idols.
And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,
And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds(16:10-11).
This fifth angel unleashes a plague directed towards the beast and his kingdom on earth. The Greek thronos, probably ought to be translated as throne and not as seat. The beast is considered a "king" for he is given a kingdom in verse 10.
As in the fifth trumpet and in the ninth plague of Egypt (Exodus 10:21-23), there is darkness over the earth, but this is only part of the divine judgment. There is also pain and torment, which some people today think is uncharacteristic of our loving God. We can see prophecies about this particular day back in the Old Testament. In Isaiah 60:2 we see, "For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee." And in Joel 2:1-2, 31 this is found, "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations...The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come." This is also mentioned in the books of Nahum, Amos, and Zephaniah.
The wicked are so suffering that they chew on their tongues. The sores that they have received on their bodies are still affecting them all. And still they refused to repent of their evil and wicked ways.
We can see here two self-evident facts at this point: (1) God is righteous in pouring out the vials/bowls of wrath. Jesus Christ is the Judge and He is the One handing out the punishment. (2) Even so afflicted mankind is not led to repentance through its suffering. The apostle Paul predicted this: "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God"(Romans 2:4-5).
I will stop there today, beloved. I hope that you all have a blessed Sunday. Until next time, pray for all of the saints of our dear Lord.
Sat, Jan 19th - 5:12PM
POURING OUT THE SEVEN BOWLS FILLED WITH WRATH OF GOD
And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth(16:1).
In addition to these seven angels doing their thing, we will also see an interlude between the sixth and seventh vials/bowls. This wrath that fills the vials/bowls is the direct judgment of God upon this world. For all that we can tell, this event is a brief period of time, relatively speaking. You will notice that there is quite a similarity between the judgments of this chapter and God's judgments upon Egypt through Moses.
God instructs the seven angels to go their ways, indicating that their ways were already preset in time long ago. The appointed hour has finally arrived for them to complete their mission. The word "great" occurs frequently in this chapter. Aside from verse 1 we see it again in verse 17 in connection with the voice; great heat in verse 9; the great river Euphrates in verse 12; that great day of God Almighty in verse 14; a great earthquake in verse 18; the great city in verse 19; the great Babylon in verse 19; a great hail in verse 21; and the exceeding great plague in verse 21. I suppose we could call this the great chapter of the Bible.
Let's remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is the one in charge of all of this. Way back in chapter 5 He was the only One found worthy to open the seven-sealed book and with that opening of the seals He began this entire series of sevens. He is in command through the end of this book. He is the One who is marching onward to victory. The power and the glory and the majesty belong entirely to Him. This is His judgment upon a Christ-rejecting world. The Father has committed all judgment to Christ the Son. Here we see that there is no longer any delay, no more interval nor intermission. The appointed hour has arrived, the order given, and the seven angels execute the command.
Some feel that these seven vials are identical to the earlier seen trumpet judgments. At first glance it might seem to be so. They both run through the same order of afflictions upon the different parts of creation. However, there are some differences. The first four trumpet judgments deal with only one third of the earth, while the vial judgments are universal in their application for no limitations appear upon them. The vial judgments' intensity is much greater also.
The world in which we are living has heard over a century's worth of insipid preaching from America's pulpits, and the average person believes that God is all sweetness and light and would not discipline or punish anyone. I do not think that any of those preachers ever read the book of Revelation! This book, and this chapter especially, speak volumes to us today about how awful life will be for the living when God judges this world.
And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image(16:2).
We see the angel leaving heaven and upon reaching earth he pours out the vial. God seemingly begins by waging germ warfare on mankind. These sores are described as being noisome, meaning that they are harmful, offensive to the senses and especially to the sense of smell. Grievous means causing severe pain, suffering, or sorrow. So it would appear that these sores will be extremely painful and will be filled with pus which will smell awful. It reminds me of those times in my life when I have been forced to smell something so bad that it causes a reflex reaction of vomitting. It was not a pleasant experience for me then and I doubt that it will be pleasant in the future with these sores. But these sores are for only those who have rejected Christ and have accepted the Beast as their focus for worship. Anyone else who is still alive and is a believer in Jesus will not be covered with any sores. If they were not martyred before this, I think that they will become martyrs rather quickly after this first judgment. I will point out here that a difference between the first trumpet and the first vial judgments is that the first trumpet burned a third of the plants while the vial is directed against mankind and not plants.
From 13:8 on it would appear that very few people will remain true to Christ. In 14:9-11 the warning is given and now in chapter 16 it is reinforced. And yet, do we see any indication that any people are repenting of their sins?
And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man; and every living soul died in the sea(16:3).
As in the second trupet in 8:8, the similarity seems to be to the first of the ten plaues in Egypt which killed all the fish in the Nile River and made the water unfit to drink. It is possible that in all of these cases the water does not become actual blood, for the phrase used is "as the blood of a dead man." The grammar indicates a comparison of sorts is being made. The area of the judgment is similar to that of the second trumpet where one third of the sea is turned to blood and an equal number of the creatures die. But here the judgment is universal, world-wide. Think about how much of this planet is covered with water; all of it will turn blood red and have the characteristics of that blood of a dead man. This seemingly affects both salt and fresh water, there will be nothing fit to drink or cook with, nothing with which to wash those noisome sores with.
And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.
For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments(16:4-7).
As you notice, I got slightly ahead of myself. Here is where we see fresh water supplies turned to blood also. I think it is safe to say that all of these vial judgments will be coming down like trip-hammers, one right after another. This plague, similar to that of the third trumpet, is yet again more severe. Instead of only one third of the fresh water being affected, the affect with the vial is universal. We see in these judgments physical affliction stemming from spiritual apostasy.
As unrepentent people had shed the blood of saints and prophets so now we see poetic justice in action. If any of them wish to quench their thirst they must drink blood.
John heard an angel who apparantly is in charge over all waters. This angel announces that the Christ is righteous because He has so judged the world. God's eternal nature is mentioned here pointing out now the suddenness of judgment once the appointed time had arrived. The other voice heard from out of the altar could be one of those souls we saw under it back in 6:9-11, or it could be another unidentified angel. If the voice is from one of those souls from chapter 6 then this is the answer of God to their prayers and requests. The voice also reaffirms that all of God's judgments are true and righteous, they can be nothing else but that.
Let's stop there for today, my friends. Until next time, remember that His Love will not let you go. Once you are in the palm of His hand nothing can take you away from Him. Rest your weary soul on Christ, give to Him the life that you owe so that your life may richer, fuller be. And live life abundantly, in Christ!
Fri, Jan 18th - 1:14PM
Isn't that photo of a thunderstorm magnificent? It reflects Romans 1:20. At any rate, let's dig into these next few verses today.
And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:
And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles(15:5-6).
John introduces us to another vision. Our attention is grabbed by the phrase "And I looked, and, behold." John watches as the heavenly temple is opened and he can see into the Holy of Holies. It most likely is the inner sactum of God since the expression "the temple," from the Greek naos, refers to the inner holy place of the Tabernacle, the design of which God gave to Moses in the desert. "The tabernacle of the testimony" refers to the entire tent-like structure, a part of which was the Holy of Holies. It was called the tabernacle of the testimony because of the presence of the tables of stone containing the commandments which were placed in the ark of the testimony in the Holy of Holies (Exodus 32:15; Acts 7:44) and is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament (Exodus 38:21; Numbers 1:50, 53; 10:11; 17:7-8; 18:2). So we are given a picture of the real tabernacle in heaven, we now know for certain that there is an actual tabernacle from which Moses's tabernacle was blueprinted from.
We could argue that these passages deal exclusively to Israelites. Everything speaks to their culture, to their religion, to their covenant with God. References are being made to things that they would understand thoroughly. A temple was made here on earth, patterned after the real one in heaven (Exodus 25:40) , but notice that there is no temple in the New Jerusalem. Why is that? Because the church is not identified with a temple for one thing, for another, Christ will live in each of us, His laws written upon our hearts. There will be no need for a temple on earth ever again at this point in history.
The angels coming out of the temple wear clothing that shows righteousness in action and does not require any use of redemptive blood, as others suggest. The golden girdles bind the linen and reflects the glory of God. These angels are bringing glory to God as they carry out these seven judgments.
And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God who liveth for ever and ever.
And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled(15:7-8).
So we have seven angels who have seven plagues being handed seven vials/bowls full of the wrath of God. This implies an almost double whammy effect as there are bowls full of God's wrath to be poured out upon mankind and there are seven plagues to be unleashed upon mankind. They are not of necessity one and the same thing. Completeness is indicated by the use of seven. We can believe that we have a complete history of the church in the seven churches, and that we have a complete Great Tribulation Period in each one of the series of sevens. First, we received a broad outline with the seven seals and then we received successive series of details on various parts of the Period. Completeness. I will point out that the vials/bowls are not full of God's love, rather, they are chock full of His wrath.
"The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God." We are not dealing with the church here, this text is directed to God's dealings with His nation, Israel. This particular scene is reminiscent of Exodus 40:34-35. This does present beautiful pictures of Christ which have spiritual applications for us today, but that does not mean that the church is Israel, or that the church ought to build itself a temple or tabernacle. Instead, these passages have been speaking to Israel, who had a temple and a tabernacle. Some commentaries dismiss Israel's covenant with God once we get into the New Testament. They claim that that covenant is null and void with the giving of a new covenant. It sounds great at first thought, but if we think about it a little bit then we begin to see that that covenant was not necessarily the "old covenant" that was replaced with a new one. Other commentators feel that Israel's promises have now become the church's promises. It is hard to explain how the church can scripturally claim ownership of nation Israel's God given promises. A common explanation is that the English speaking peoples all are descendants of the "lost tribes" of Israel from in the Old Testament. This way, Israel's promises can become the promises of all of us! The only problem with this is that James wrote to "the twelve tribes scattered abroad." They were not apparantly lost to him since he wrote to them in that epistle. He knew that his letter would reach all of them out in the world. We need to keep consistency with God's Word, not chase bunnies down their respective holes and get lost.
As we can see, the picture given shows us that as we have seen the gentle Jesus, now we shall see the wrath of the Lamb. This wrath most certainly will startle and shake the entire world, for who is afraid of a gentle, little, meek, lamb? Do you see how the world has been duped? The prophets of the Old Testament used the picture of the cup of iniquity and wrath filling it up and spoke of God's patience in waiting for it to fill. But, when it is full God moves in judgment, no longer waiting. All of those who feel that Jesus Christ is only Love, and Meek, and Kind, and Gentle; those are the ones who are to be immensely shocked at His wrath and His judgment. I imagine hearing them cry out, "But this isn't fair! God loves all of us! He cannot do this to us!" My friends, God so loved all of us that He gave His only begotten Son, that none might perish, that all who claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will have eternal life. We cannot stop after the word "perish" but read on to the end of the scripture. Yes, He loves us. He gave His only Son, Christ Jesus, as payment in full for the wages of our sins, that we might have eternal life. But if we refuse to accept His gift of eternal life then we condemn ourselves. We must choose wisely then. Foolishness must be flung far away, temptation must be ignored. We must not act childishly when an adult decision is demanded. Will I follow Christ, or will I follow someone else? Choose carefully, and wisely.
Next time we open up chapter 16 of Revelation. Until then, think soberly upon the commandments of God. Lay claim to the promises of God. Live the victorius life in Christ. Do good works in Christ. It has been ordained, appointed, since before the creation of everything around us.
Thu, Jan 17th - 1:15PM
And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest(15:3-4).
If you wish to learn "the song of Moses." you can find it in Exodus 15:1-21 and Deuteronomy 32:1-43. Both speak of God's deliverance, salvation, and faithfulness. "The song of the Lamb" assigns praise to Christ as the Redeemer. We saw this in Revelation 5:9-12. These are two separate songs for "song" is repeated with a definite article in both cases.
We see the beginning of the songs in "Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty." God's works arouse wonder and astonishment in those who witness them firsthand. This could refer to past works done by God but would seem to point towards future works yet to be done. We also see God's ways described as "just and true." He is just in that He is perfectly righteous. He is true in that He always keeps His promises.
Again let me focus your attention on the fact that the book of Revelation is Christ-centered. Do not allow the four horsemen to carry you away, or do not be distracted by the blowing of the trumpets or by all of the angels or by the seven personalities. Do not spend all of your time and energy on these seven bowls of wrath. We need to keep our eyes centered on Christ. He is the One in charge; He is the Lord God Almighty. Here we have Him unveiled in His holiness, in His power, and in His glory. Christ is the One who can put His hand in the hand of God the Father and also put His hand in the hand of man and bring them back together. To Him be all of glory, honor, and power!
The espression ending verse 3 can be rendered also as "King of nations" or "King of ages." All picture all praise being given to Christ, it will be universal. Verse 4 contains a question which is futuristic. Today there is very little reverential fear of God, even among believers. We all have been caught up in this love attitude, and I think that we should never lose sight of the fact that God is love. But God is other things as well. God is also Light, which means He is holy and He dispells all darkness. Ephesians 5:8-13 speaks about this issue of light, how we ought to walk in the light as He is the light. God is also righteous, which means that He does not tolerate selfrighteousness. He is keenly interested in our accepting His Son, Jesus Christ, and clothing ourselves in Christ's righteousness. God is moving today in churches and dealing with Christians as never before. He is working to open the eyes and hearts of believers to the truth, before it becomes too late. If you are God's child, do not do as you please. God will not hesitate to send a little trouble your way in order to wake you up. Our God is a mighty God, He is holy and righteous.
The day is coming when every single nation will come before Christ and worship Him. It is not true today. The prayer breakfasts, and candlelight vigils are not a substitute for universal worship. We, in America, do not live in a Christian nation. Think about it. How could it possibly be thought as such? Do we put families interests first? Do we advocate coninuously for the interests of the unborn? Do we put others' interests before our own? Do we observe God's 10 Commandments? No to all of those questions clearly indicates what sort of nation we have become. Our founding fathers agonize in their graves over what this nation has become. In Jeremiah 23:5 we are told, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth." Beloved, Jesus is that Branch and King who is coming to execute judgment and justice in all of the earth.
Yes, it is true that America has been through some awful travail, but we have been so engrossed in our own problems that our hearts have grown tired from all of the scandals. Yes, it is sickening to see the immorality, the godlessness, and the outright injustice in this world. If I were a radical I would have one of the most radical platforms around. As a Christian I can see exactly what is happening out in the world, but I can not remedy, or fix, even one thing. I must wait for Christ to move. Do you grow tired of politicians telling you that it is time for a change? Has it happened yet? It won't until Christ returns. Am I suggesting that we believers sit back and do nothing? God forbid! I am saying that we need to get down and begin earnest prayer for our country, for our leaders, and for our communities.
In Phillipians 2:9-11 we can read, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Those who are in hell will not name Him as their Redeemer, but they sure are going to acknowledge Him as Lord. Christ created the entire universe and He is running it today.
The final phrase in verse 4 reveals how Christ's righteous judgments are going to made manifest, which means it is going to be obvious, evident or sure, easily understood. What God does is right. It might not look right to you, or me, but if you think God is in error then it is you, or me, who are wrong and not God. Check out the testimony found within the Psalms at 7:9, 11:7, 107:1,40,42.
Next time we will look at the tabernacle opened in heaven. We will see the seven angels come out with the seven golden vials, or bowls, filled with the last plagues that will be unleashed on the earth. We will also begin chapter 16 where the plagues are detailed. Until then, rest in the holiness of our God who is the author and finisher of our faith. The good work that He has begun in each of us will be completed by Him, it is a promise. Claim it, make it your own. Know that He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can endure, it is a promise. Claim it, make it your own.
Wed, Jan 16th - 2:25PM
And the angel thrust in lhis sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs(14:19-20).
Here we have the angel reaping the vine of the earth, people. He casts them into God's winepress which apparantly will be outside Jerusalem. If you notice, people are not the ones who trod God's winepress of wrath. God alone treads His winepress in judgment. I do not think that we are talking about a physical object in these two verses. We already know that Christ will juge all mankind, His is the sword that will pierce into every heart. Here we are given a graphic picture to allow us to comprehend the extent of death that is to happen at this time. Will the sheer volume of spilled blood reach as high as the bridle on a horse? I do not know. It may be that here we are shown that blood will splatter that high and the carnage will cover the span of a thousand and six hundred furongs which is about 185 miles. On a map that stretches from Dan to Beer-sheeba or just about all of Palestine. Jerusalem lies in a valley and this would seem to be the valley of decision spoken of in scripture.
Some prefer a symbolic meaning to the distance, yet they too, have trouble coming up with a solution to the riddle of what the distance actually represents. What we most definitely do know is that never before seen carnage to human life and limb is going to take place when God judges mankind at the end.
I make no apology for these scenes of judgment. God does not ask me to make apologies for His Word, He simply wants me to give it out. Here are some facts that we all must face up to:
1. Sin is an awful thing. 2. Sin is in the world. 3. You and I are sinners. The only remedy for sin is redemption which Christ offered when He shed His blood on the cross at Calvary and so paid the wages of sin. 4. You and I merit the judgment of God. Our only escape is to accept the work of Christ for us on His cross. This very question gets asked in scripture, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?..."(Hebrews 2:3). Escape what, you may ask? Judgment, God says. When my house catches fire and is soon to be engulfed in flames I find the quickest escape that I can. Jesus Christ is exactly that, our quickest means to escape judgment from God. This is what the current generation needs to hear and learn rather than be given little methods and plans of living the Christian life. Nothing straightens out a life more than realizing that God is a holy God, that the Lord Jesus Christ is righteous, and that He is not going to tolerate any sin in anyone. He says that He will purge us of all sin, a refining process like metal going through a furnace. Think upon these things and then ponder how it might change your approach to training your children at home.
We have seen that God was able to keep the 144,000 during the Great Tribulation. So it is not a question of whether or not God can keep the church in the Great Tribulation. Of course, He can keep the church if that is His will and plan. But, according to His Word this does not seem to be His plan for the church. Christ said, "I am going to keep you from that hour that is coming on this earth." So according to the language used we can determine that God wishes to keep us from going through the endtimes, not helping us to go through them. If I am reading this wrong then I still will not fret over things for God said that He will be with me always. He will guide me through even the Great Tribulation if it comes during my lifetime. In my mind this is a win-win scenario, how can I possibly lose? God is for me, who can be against me?
Beloved, there are places in this book where God resorts to symbols. Why? He does so because the reality represented by the symbols is much worse than the symbols used. God cannot communicate some of these things to us because we are dull of hearing. We simply do not comprehend with these finite minds of ours. The coming Great Tribulation is going to be horrendous, terrible beyond our comprehension. Something that has never been seen before and never to be seen again, that is how it is described for us by Jesus.
THE SIGN OF THE SEVEN ANGELS WITH THE PLAGUES
In this next chapter we see another sign in heaven. It would be natural to assume that last chapter described the absolute worst to happen during the endtimes but in reality the worst is yet to come. We have already seen the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven personalities. Now we have the coming of the seven bowls of wrath.
The purpose of this Great Tribulation is not to purify the church, but to judge mankind who has rejected Christ. It is to provide Satan a final opportunity. The bowls of wrath are not the "blessed hope" for which we, as believers, are looking forward to. We are looking for that spoken of in Titus 2:13. We need to know what the unsaved will go through, for that ought to galvanize us into witnessing for Christ today.
And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God(15:1-2).
John repeats his eyewitnessing, relating to us what he saw in heaven. "Another sign" reconnects us with chapter 12 where we encountered the first sign, which was Israel. From chapter 12 to the return of Christ is a series of events which are mutually related but not necessarily in a chronological order. They are in a logical order which retraces the same events with added details. This is seen back in Genesis 1 and 2. Genesis 1 gives us the creation account in seven days. In chapter 2 this account is given more details concerning the creation of man on the sixth day. In the New Testament we find not one, but four gospel records to give us all of the details concerning Jesus Christ. From all of this recapitulating we then can see that the order of events is one of dramatic climax, the seventh seal being all-inclusive of the end-time events including the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet including the events described in the sevn bowls of wrath. Christ's second Coming follows immediately after the seventh bowl. Revelation sections such as 10:1-11:14; 13-14; 17-19 do not seem to advance the narrative time-wise. In this, chapter 19 appears to follow immediately after chapter 16 in the timeline development. Confusing? LOL It most certainly can be! Just keep in mind that as a whole, Revelation moves forward through time. Also keep in mind that there are internal sections of prophecy that recapitulate selected events, or series of events. to give us more understanding through added details.
I mentioned earlier that this sign in heaven reconnected us with chapter 12. It places us in a position to consider all three signs that appeared in heaven. The first sign was a woman representing Israel, the second sign was a red dragon representing Satan and the empire he raises up, the third sign is the seven angels having the seven bowls filled with wrath. So we have Israel, Satan, and divine judgment upon Satan and his satanic system which rules the world. These seven angels are different ones from any previous group of seven angels we have encountered so far. Grammar indicates that this is so. We see the number of completion here as in the previous sevens. Earlier "plagues" were judgments from God but the Greek here indicates that these seven are the last ones.
The scene in heaven that John gives to us seems to allude to what we saw back in 4:6. In both occasions John does not see an actual, or an ordinary, sea because people are standing upon it. It is symbolism therefore. In 4:6 this sea spoke of the holiness of God, here it is mingled with fire which speaks of God's holy judgment on the Beast and his world system. Believers are able to stand above the judgment because of the blood of the Lamb. It also is a statement about Christ's faithfulness in upholding His own. Some believe that the sea represents the finished redemption of the saints compared to the ongoing work in the Tabernacle and the Temple where water was seen. No longer is needed constant cleansing with God's Word and Holy Spirit. Merely a thought... Upon this glassy sea are all those who got victory over the beast and have harps of God. These obviously include the martys from 13:1-10. They were victorious in that they remained faithful to Christ, even including death. Not everyone so far seen in heaven has been given harps, so this is a form of reward for what they endured. They play the harps before God's throne, a privileged position.
Here is a poem on prayer that may help you through coming tough times:
"Unanswered yet? Faith cannot be unanswered.
Her feet were firmly planted on the rock.
Amid the wildest storm she stands undaunted
Nor quails before the loudest thunder shock.
She knows Omnipotence has heard her prayer
And cries, It shall be done sometime, somewhere.
Unanswered yet? Nay, do not say ungranted.
Perhaps your part is not yet wholly done.
The work began when your first prayer was uttered,
And God will finish what He has begun.
If you will keep the incense burning there,
His glory you will see, sometime, somewhere."
~Ophelia Guyon Browning
Over the years God lets people cross our paths, there to build our character. Some test our faith, some build our strength in Christ. As these people come and go in our lives we need to be in prayer that we do not fall into Satan's trap and lose the joy of our salvation. We each have a song to sing to the world around us, do not allow it to be stolen from you.
That is all for today, my friends. Until next time, sing psalms and holy hymns to yourself and to other saints thereby lifting yours and their spirits.
Tue, Jan 15th - 1:12PM
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them(14:13
This verse pronounces a blessing specific to end time martyrs and not to any other saints in any other period of history. Sorry, folks, but that is how God wrote it out. As harsh as it may sound, it is far better to be dead at the hand of the beast than to have favor as his worshipper and have his mark upon you. The last part of this verse indicates that it is none other than the Holy Spirit speaking here. All who are martyred at this time will be able to rest from their works and their tribulations and can rest in Christ. Four times prior to this there is record of a voice from heaven (10:4, 8; 11:12; 14:2). Again in 18:4 and 21:3 a voice is heard, a direct communication from God as opposed to a communication through an angel. It implies that this is extremely important and is a direct divine pronouncement.
And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped(14:14-16).
Here we see the now familiar phrase, "I looked, and behold." Are we doing likewise? Are we looking, and beholding what is before us in God's Word? The one upon the white cloud would seemingly be Jesus Christ. It says that this one looks like the Son of man, and that a crown of gold is on his head. This is a picture of Christ as King of Kings. The white cloud could very well represent the shekinah glory of God which used to fill the Temple and the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle.
"A sharp sickle" indicates this the time of harvest of which Jesus spoke in the Gospels. He said the fields were white unto harvest, where were the workers to bring it in? Here the angels along with Christ will reap the world. In the next verse another angel cries to Jesus Christ upon the cloud to thrust in His sickle for the appointed time has arrived. Is this angel ordering Christ to do so? I do not think that is the case, but rather that the angel is simply reporting the appointed time of the Father has now finally come. Jesus said that He did nothing of His own will but did only that of His Father. This can be supported by the simple fact that the angel came from out of the temple with these words. The Greek word used here for "is ripe", exeranthe, meaning "to become dry or withered" has a somewhat bad connotation. The picture that we are given is of a fruit or vegetable that has become so ripe that it has become wilted and is past optimal picking for personal use. The rotten moral condition of the world is dealt with now with a sharp sickle.
The question arises as to just who is being reaped at this point. Nothing is explicitly stated for us within the verses but we can conclude some possiblities from what is stated. For example, If the reaping done by Christ in verse sixteen is of only wicked people then what do we do with the verses that follow? Are we witnessing two separate ingatherings of people? Could those reaped by Christ be believers? Of course, we must keep in mind the entire picture. Back in Matthew 13:3 Jesus said, "And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow." Clearly He was speaking of Himself, that He was sowing seeds of faith in men everywhere. Now at the end of time He completes the cycle by reaping what He sowed. We as Christians are not reaping in this parable, all through our lives we are supposed to be sowing seeds and allowing God to water those seeds so that He can reap fruit later on. When we try to reap we will only screw things up, we need to realize that we only reap what we sow in the way of what we do in our choices each day. We do not reap the spiritual seeds that we may sow in those around us. I hope that that is clear. The sickle belongs in the hands of Christ and His angels.
The time of harvest is set before us then, and it comes to us from out of Joel: "Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision"(Joel 3:13-14). Sounds to me like Judgment Day.
And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe(14:17-18).
Finally, it is stated quite plainly that angels will be used to harvest the earth. The angel of verse 17 is the fifth to appear and then is quickly followed by the sixth angel to appear. Now the language used in verse 17 indicates to us that identification is with the Old Testament and not with the church. Isaiah 63:1-6 gives another slant to this reaping that shall be taking place, read that passage on your own. This picture is appropriate in that the first time Christ came He shed His blood for everyone but this second Coming is when He sheds the blood of them who have rejected Him. Isaiah shows us that only Christ shall be treading the grapes of wrath, none of the saints will be included in this action. We might come with Christ when He returns but we do not get to bloody our selves with fighting.
The angel coming from the altar has power of fire which indicates that he may very well be carrying out God's response to the prayers of the saints for divine judgment on those who martyred them. At the very least his possession of fire indicates the purging judgment of which he is capable. The expression "fully ripe" coming from the Greek ekmasan is a different expression from the earlier one. Here it is picturing grapes almost bursting with juice. The spiritual meaning is still the same. Harvest time has arrived. The mention of the vine is in a figurative way, we can find frequent use of it in the Old Testament (Psalm 80:8, 14-15; Isaiah 5:2-7; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 17:5-8; Hosea 10:1). In John 15:1-6 it is also used of the church. Just as Israel and the church were to bear fruit of righteousness to the Lord, so here we have the vine producing fruit of wickedness and corruption.
Let's stop right there for a breath. Next time we will see further details about the harvest time as we finish up chapter 14. In chapter 15 of Revelation we are confronted with the vision of the seven last plagues. This and the next chapter bring to conclusion the chronological order of events leading up to the second coming of Jesus Christ which is described in chapter 19. We will be moving slowly through this upcoming section to make sure that nothing is overlooked. Until then, strive to lead a pure life dedicated to serving our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Be alert to the seductive temptations that sweep over, and around us each and every day. Love the brethren.
Mon, Jan 14th - 1:05PM
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus(14:9-12).
This section makes it crystal clear that no one can take a neutral position during this intense period of history. Today we see Christian businessmen who capitulate to the situational ethics of the hour. It ought not to happen. Stand tall. In chapter 13 we saw that one consequence of refusing to worship the beast was sure starvation. Accept the mark of the beast and you can eat, but you will bring down upon your head the wrath of God.
"The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God" is a figure taken from Psalm 75:8, "For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them." The Old Testament prophets could see this happening, the cup filling up slowly but surely. All of these poor souls in this period of the Tribulation have drunk of the wine of spiritual corruption and now they must drink of the wine of the wrath of God.
"Tormented with fire and brimstone." If this is a symbol for the representation of the real, then how awful must it be! If it is taken literally, it is bad enough for us to shiver. But we need to remember that the brimstone and fire that destroyed Sodom was literal and not a symbol. Some say that this proves beyond doubt that torment will not be eternal since Sodom and Gomorrah vanished and are not still burning. True that these two cities are not still smoking, but here we are speaking about God's judgment of mankind who still rebels against Him. Scriptures do indicate that the second death is not an erasure of life but that it is being conscious of your surroundings and that it does last for ever.
We do notice here that hell (hades?) is visible to Christ and the holy angels. Perhaps "hell" is not the best translated word to describe this place. It creates certain preconceived concepts in our minds. We need to see that this place is not said to be visible to anyone else. Are we to assume that saints who are in heaven will be able to see the events unfolding on earth? No, we cannot because it does not say that they can. Why can't they? God alone knows that answer.
God's children can only wait, be patient, for the second coming of Christ. Christ said, "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved(Matthew 24:19)." How can that person endure? Because he/she has been sealed by the Spirit of God, and he/she is clothed in the righteousness of Christ. This person overcomes by the blood of the Lamb. Again, Christ said, "In your patience possess ye your souls"(Luke 21:19). They must wait out the storm patiently, just as we must do today.
Now, I will insert here a short comment on the existence of a literal hell. Jesus Christ and His beloved disciple said more concerning this place than all of the remaining contributors to the New Testament. Jesus referred to hell, gehenna, eleven out of the twelve occurrences, made twelve out of nineteen refrences to hell fire, and used other similar expressions more than any other person in the New Testament.
The righteousness of God is as inexorable as the love of God is infinite. The love of God is not free to express itself to those who have spurned Jesus Christ. Their torment is real, and due to the smoke rising up for ever we must conclude that their torment also lasts for ever. This means always. There will be no end. Verse eleven describes it in the Greek (I have read) literally to mean "into the ages of ages." This is the strongest expression of eternity of which Greek is capable. To flesh out the idea of continual suffering, they are said to have no rest day or night. As the worship of the beast was not interrupted by any repentance, so their torment is not interrupted when repentance is too late.
Verse 12 offers us an encouragement. The patience of the saints to endure these times, to keep God's commandments and keep faith in Christ. We are not to simply observe all commandments of God and not keep faith in Christ, for keeping faith in Christ alters our outlook on the commandments. The Israelites kept the commandments and it gained them absolutely nothing, they still did not recognise their Messiah when He came to save them. This verse gives us a link between works and faith. I must not simply be a hearer of God's Word but a doer also.
That is it for today, my friends. Next time I will speak about the judgment of the Son of Man and perhaps get to the angel with the sharp sickle. Until then, keep your faith alive in Christ, yearn for the day when you, personally, will get to see and touch the Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem. What a day that will be!
Sun, Jan 13th - 2:52PM
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.
saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters(14:6-7).
John tells us that a different angel is now involved in his vision. This is the first of six " another" angels mentioned in the remainder of this chapter. These would be in addition to the seven angels introduced in 8:2.
During this current age the gospel message has been given to mankind to distribute around the world. Angels would like to help us, but it is not the appointed time for any of them to give out the gospel. During the latter stages of the Great Tribulation when circumstances are so intense and cruel only angels will be able to pronounce to the entire world the gospel. This angel flies in mid heaven preaching the everlasting gospel to all. It implies that everyone will be able to hear what this angel speaks. Power is the impression given. Today, as in days previous, believers speak the gospel to others urging them to accept salvation, repent of their sinful ways. However, at this end point of history the angel preaches not only salvation but also pointedly warns all to do so for the hour of His judgment is at hand. No more time to procrastinate, no more time to be Scarlet in Gone With the Wind. The angel commands all to worship Him for there is no more time to think about it.
As can be seen, all of the peoples in the world are going to hear this Word of God. This fulfills what Christ said must happen before He would return. The angel proclaims for all people to fear God and give Him glory. In Proverbs we are told that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. All are being given a final chance to become wise and avoid the coming judgment of God. This everlasting gospel would then appear to be a combination of grace, kingdom, and God's eternal righteousness.
And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication(14:8).
A different angel makes this pronouncement. For centuries Babylon has been Satan's headquarters. It is where idolatry on earth began. Semiramis was the wife of Nimrod; she was queen of Babel, which later became Babylon. She devised a story in which she came out of an egg in the Euphrates River. She cracked the shell and stepped out fully grown. Worship of her introduced the female principle in the deity. From here all false religion has originated. Nimrod is first mentioned in Genesis 10:8-10 and later we can see the Tower of Babel being erected to reach up to heaven.
Babylon is used to refer to the literal city and also to a religious or political system, all of which stem from the wicked character of the historic, literal city. There is some evidence that the woman that is to be referred to in chapter 17 as "Babylon the Great" is the apostate church heading into the Great Tribulation. The destruction of Babylon itself, whether a reference to Rome, or to a rebuilt city of Babylon on the ancient site, does not take place until the end of the Great Tribulation. The 13th chapter of Isaiah deals with the probability of the city being rebuilt in the future.
Why does Babylon fall in the future? This announcement is made of a future event (according to the original Greek) as if it had already happened. God's prophecy is being shown to be exact, to be absolute. The reason of Babylon's fall is its iniquity, which is said to have made every nation participate in its corruption. All nations had incorporated idolatry into their customs, culture, society. In doing this, all nations then must share in Babylon's divine condemnation and judgment. This announcement then becomes an assurance to those believers still alive at this point in time upon earth, they know without any doubts that it will end very soon.
You may be asking yourself, "Why in the world is Babylon so important? It is a pile of rubble today. What's the big deal?" The big deal is that ever since the time of Nimrod and his wife/mother Semiramis his city has been the seat of idolatry and the birthplace of all of the many gods we hear of in this world of ours. Semiramis was worshipped as the "mother of god" and as a "fertility goddess" since she had to be extremely fertile to give birth to all the pagan incarnate gods that represented Nimrod. Beginning with this initial "world empire" of Nimrod and Semiramis we find the origins of history's many religions and gods/goddesses. She was worshipped throughout the world by each of the titles associated with Nimrod's worship plus many titles unique to herself. For instance, there are the Greek and Roman names applied to the worship of Semiramis such as Aphrodite and Venus, the goddess of love; Artemis and Diana, the goddess of hunting and childbirth; Athena and Minerva, the goddess of crafts, war and wisdom; Demeter and Ceres, the goddess of growing things; Gaea and Terra, symbol of the fertile earth; Hera and Juno, the protector of marriage and women, who was the sister and wife of Zeus in Greek mythology, and wife of Jupiter in Roman mythology; Hestia and Vesta, the goddess of the hearth; and Rhea or Ops, who was wife and sister of the Greek horned-god Kronos.
Nimrod is found in Genesis 10:8-10 and is said to have been a very good hunter. I suspect that he was very good at hunting people and beasts. He obviously did not believe in worshipping God since his cities worshipped anything else they could find. Semiramis was initially included in the pagan Babylonian trinity as the holy spirit or seed of the divine son in his mother's womb. Sound kind of familiar? This is what was going on after the Flood once people began to repopulate the world. Within time Nimrod was pushed into the background after his death. He became worshipped as the god-incarnate son in his mother's arms. In other words, the father became invisible and was no longer worshipped and the mother with the god-incarnate son in her arms became the grand object of worship. Babylonian monuments show the goddess-mother Semiramis with her son in arms. This worship of mother and child spread throughout the known world, and given different names in the various languages of the world. Ancient Germans worshipped the virgin Hertha with child in arms. Scandinavians called her Disa pictured with child. The Egyptian mother and child were called Isis with infant Osirius or Horus seated upon his mother's lap. In India, the mother and child were called Devaki and Krishna, and also Isi and Iswara as they are sorshipped to this day. In Asia, they were known as Cybele and Deonius; in pagan Rome, as Fortuna and Jupiter-puer, or Jupiter, the boy; in Greece, as Ceres, the great mother with babe at her breast, or as Irene, the goddess of peace, with the boy Plutus in her arms. All of these showing the same picture, that of the mother with child in her embrace.
These images were so entrenched within cultures everywhere that when Christianity appeared in 30 A.D. that many statues and paintings merely got renamed as the virgin Mary with her god-incarnate son Jesus. Idolatry could seemlessly continue on its merry way unabated. And so, the pagan mother and child entered Christianity as the Roman Catholic worship of Mary with the infant Jesus. Jesuit priests on the mission field in Tibet, China, and Japan were astounded to discover the counterpart of the madonna and child devoutly worshipped as they were in Rome. Shing Moo, the holy mother in China was portrayed with a child in her arms and had a glory around her, exactly as if she had been fashioned by Roman Catholic artisans. Amazing, huh?
So how did this Mother Worship originate? Semiramis achieved her deification from the divine nature given to her child. She was raised far above all creatures, and worshipped as a partaker of the trinitarian godhead. Eventually the mother became the preferred object of worship. The son lost any attributes that might attract attention while the mother's image was displayed in magnificent artistic detail to her exquistie beauty for Semiramis was supposed to have been breathtakingly attractive.
She was elevated to a divine station just like her god-incarnate son. The deified queen(for she was a queen) mother was adored as the incarnation of the holy spirit of peace and love. She received the highest titles. In Egypt the mother was styled Athor, the "habitation of god" to signify that all the "fulness of the godhead" dwelt in her womb. As Hestia in Greece and Vesta in Rome her name meant the "dwelling place of deity."
As being the "mother of gods" the goddess queen of Babylon became an object of universal worship. She was worshipped by the Persians, the Syrians, and was venerated by all the kings of Europe and Asia during the middle ages. When Caesar invaded Britain he found the Druids worshipping the "mother of god" as Virgo-Patitura.
In Egypt, as the "queen of heaven" she was the greatest and most worshipped of all the divinities there. During their Egyptian bondage, the Israelites repeatedly left from the one true invisible God and turned instead to the pagan mother. When they fell into apostasy under King Solomon, they worshipped this mother goddess as Ashtaroth. We can read about this in Judges 2:13 and 10:6; I Samuel 7:3-4, 12:10; I Kings 11:5; II Kings 23:13. There we see the listing of the gods from the various nations all around the Israelites and read how they failed to remain true to Jehovah their God. In Jeremiah's time the Israelites worshipped the queen of heaven, look to Jeremiah 44:17-19, complaining about the lack of good times whenever they stopped worshipping her.
We can see some frightening similarities in the Roman Catholic worship of Mary and the ancient worship of Semiramis in her many forms. For one thing, in Egypt the mother was called the "habitation of God" to signify the the "fullness of the godhead" dwelt in her womb. Similar language is used to describe the Virgin Mary within Catholicism.
In Greece she was called the "dwelling-place of deity" as was the case in the Roman Empire. Under the name, "mother of the gods," the goddess queen of Babylon became worshipped by all of the nations surrounding Babylon. Also in Egypt she was considered to be the "queen of heaven" implying divinity and thus sovereignty over the heavens. As Catholicism embraced all of these titles for Mary, where did Jesus Christ and God get displaced to? Suddenly, no one need ask Jesus for forgiveness but should go to Mother Mary who is peaceable and loving. Do not dare anger the Messiah who will bring judgment and death upon you!
Can you see the siren-like song that seductively lures you to your spiritual death here? Satan has an idolatrous system that has been working nicely for him, and he has inserted it into one of the largest denominations of Christianity. He successfully did it long ago, lost in antiquity. If we do not learn from our history we will get sucked in, duped, all over again. Slowly, Satan gets your focus off of Christ and onto angels, saints, and the Virgin Mary. Throw in confessions to priests rather than to Christ and you have millions of people the world over who believe that they are saved by this system. They are still lost, beloved.
If you happen to be Catholic and you are reading this posting I hope and pray that you are not angry with me. I am only pointing out the ways in which your religion have strayed from what Jesus Christ has said we must do in order to be born again and receive admittance into heaven. We are to trust in none other than Christ. That means no angels, no "Saints", and no Virgin Mary. The priests cannot forgive you your sins, only God can do that for you and that only through the Person of Christ. Our high priest today is Jesus Christ and He is the one to confess your sins to, no one else can help you. I urge you to read these posted messages each day and discover the Truth! Come and see! The doors of your personal jail stand open!
I hope that this section helps you understand the impact that this Babylonian system of idolatry has had on our culture and the world at large. It makes it very hard to live a Christian life, for the seduction never ceases, it is there every minute of every hour of every day.
I will end here for now, beloved. Until next time, praise God and love all believers!
Sat, Jan 12th - 7:19PM
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads(14:1).
This chapter begins with the same unusual phrase that has been used several times previously: "And I looked, and, lo." It could also have been translated as "And I saw, and, behold," as it introduces the vision of the Lamb standing on Sion with 144,000 believers. One of the things we must decide is the meaning of Sion. Some believe that this phrase is a figurative expression that refers to heaven for we find a similar usage in Hebrews 12:22. They hold that mount Sion always refers to the heavenly Jerusalem while just Sion refers to the earthly Jersusalem. Sound rather arbitrary? Some problems that must be resolved with this interpretation include the 144,000 that are with Him. If these are the same 144,000 from chapter 7 then mount Sion cannot be in heaven but on earth for they were sealed on earth and have not yet ascended to heaven. Jesus will reign from Jerusalem during the millennial kingdom, which happens on earth and not in heaven. In Psalm 2:6 we read this: "Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion." Christ's destiny is to be placed upon the throne of David in Jerusalem, and specifically at Mount Sion.
The 144,000 may be the same group as back in chapter 7, or they might be another group of 144,000. At this point we cannot be sure. That they are with Him kind of implies that they are the same group that was previously sealed and were to go with Him wherever He goes. Jesus Christ sealed this group, took them through the Great Tribulation, and came out with all of them intact. We will see as we go along, hopefully.
And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth(14:2-3).
John continues to report what he hears and sees. This group of 144,000 sing a new song that only they know. The argument that they are singing this new song in heaven does not easily hold water since the verse does not state that they are in heaven. One must assume that mount Sion is in heaven in order to make any sort of defense of this position. The only declaration in verse 3 is that only these 144,000 can learn this song.
In chapter seven we were told the seal was simply the "seal of God." But here we are given more detail so that we could conclude that we are talking about the same group of individuals. The Father's name written in their foreheads and a seal seem to be pretty much the same thing. Another point in favor of this thought is the fact that no other introduction is given as to who this group of 144,000 would be if different from the one in chapter 7. So it would be preferable to conclude that these two groups of 144,000 are one and the same. It would be consistent.
In verse two we see reference made to the voice of God once again. This seems familiar to us from chapters 4 and 5. The harpers harping is heard all the way to earth it would seem. The voice was heard from heaven and then the harpers could be heard from heaven. This is like a two way multimedia streaming event. What is done in heaven can be heard on earth and vice versa.
These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God(14:4-5).
John returns to the subject of the 144,000 and gives further details about them. They are virgins, have never slept with a woman. Some give over completely to the interpretation that this refers strictly to keeping oneself free of depravity and corruption. That they have no love of the world in them nor do they compromise with evil but keep themselves pure in a world situation which is morally filthy. This is a true enough concept, but is that the really important statement being made here? These are the ones who were redeemed from the twelve tribes of Israel, Jews all. Recall in John 1:47 what Jesus said about Nathanael? Here is a true Jew, one in which no guile is to be found. So I believe that these are the Israelites sealed and that they have not slept with any woman, they are literal virgins. That they are Israelites would also seem to be indicated in that Israel the nation is referred to frequently as "the virgin the daughter of Zion" (II Kings 19:21; Isaiah 37:22), as the "virgin daughter of Zion" (Lamentations 2:13), and as the "virgin of Israel" (Jeremiah 18:13; 31:4, 21; Amos 5:2).
The question of their spiritual purity comes into play in the phrase "which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." In order to follow the Lamb in such a way dictates that they are spiritually pure. The second "These" repeats the thought that these are they redeemed from men as the firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. Once more we see that the word used for redeemed is a form of agorazo, as in verse 3, meaning "to purchase." With the use of the Greek word aparche, in what sense is this group "firstfruits"? This would seem to refer to the beginning of a great harvest, from here to the start of the millennial kingdom. The members of this select group are the godly nucleus of Israel which is the earnest of the redemption of the nation and its glory to come in the kingdom of which God promised to them.
The description of this group ends with the statement that they are without guile and fault. Again, I would remind you of what Christ said about Nathanael back in the book of John. The thought is that there is no falsehood or especially no false religion in them. This entire group have been kept completely clean from the false religion of the great tribulation. They are described as also being without fault, blameless and without stain, in contrast to those who are apostates, described as "faults" or "blemishes" as in II Peter 2:13 with the same root word (Greek amosos). How significant is this in the life and testimony of any believer today who seeks to emulate these who in the most trying times are found to have not compromised with error nor caved in to defilement of their purity. In Ephesians 1:4 Christians today are exhorted to be "without blame before him." Perhaps it is much easier to remain pure and not compromise with error when being persecuted openly? You have absolutely no choice in those situations, you either live completely for Him and are martyred or you cave in and compromise, losing your testimony. Again in Ephesians 5:27 we see the reference to "without blemish" and in I Peter 1:19 also. In Hebrews 9:14 we are told to remain "without spot." All of this is in the sight of God, before His throne.
So, are these people without blemish because they have been purified by the Great Tribulation? No. They are without blemish because they are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. And, beloved, that is the way that I desire to go to heaven! I am not going to heaven because I am good, and don't you look down your nose at me, because you are not good either. All of us are sinners saved by the grace of God.
Next time we will discover when the gospel message will get delivered to all of the earth. We will see Babylon's judgment along with judgment of all who accepted the mark of the beast. We shall see that torment of the judged will not be necessarily here on earth as some teach today. We will be forced to deal with the issue of how long does judgment of the unbelievers last. I hope that all of you had a blessed Sabbath Day, that you did indeed take a day for rest as our Lord does command us to do. I also hope that all of you praise and worship our God each and every day equally, giving Him thanks for all of the blessings that He bestows on us.
Fri, Jan 11th - 1:05PM
WILD BEAST, DELUSION PERPETRATED ON THE WORLD
And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name(13:15-17).
To literally translate this opening expression renders it as "It was given to him to give spirit to the image of the beast." The Greek word pneuma means breath or spirit. Obviously this is going to be an extremely different type of idol than most ever seen on this earth. How exactly this will play out is of question since only God has the ability to bring inanimate objects to life. Satan does not have the innate ability to initiate life, unless God gives him this ability for this particular time. Is there evidence for this concept? I am unsure, however, much has already been said about the giving of powers and authority during this tribulation period. Perhaps God does give Satan such power and this image does really come to life. Perhaps this image only can be given such power as to allow it to speak and exert power over mankind. It seems that this image is the agent of marking people at this time. Maybe the image will simply be home to a demon who will use it to do his master's bidding.
This will be a scarey day for in order to buy or sell anything one must have the mark of the beast upon them. Your job will evaporate if you refuse to bear the mark. Your family will go hungry since you will not be able to buy any food for them without bearing the mark. This is outside of the fact that if you do not agree to worship the image then you will die. So, it would seem that everyone alive at that point in time will bear the mark of the beast unless they are very scared of what they see and yet refuse to repent and turn their lives over to Christ. The only exceptions to this observation of course are the sealed 144,000 witnesses from out of Israel. At any rate, this will be a time of chaos across the earth as people run to get their mark and others run and flee to wilderness areas to avoid death.
Business and religion will be welded together at this time. In essence, no one will be able to move without it being known by the beast. We see a three-fold grouping of pairs of peoples. The first pair reflects a person's status in society, the next pair reflects amount of possessions, and the last pair reflects their place in society. No speculation on the significance of these three pairs can give us evidence that they represent an evil trinity, or anything else for that matter.
The mark of the beast appears to be either of three forms: the mark, the name, or the number of his name. In ancient times soldiers were branded by their commanders, slaves were branded by their masters, and those attached to pagan temples sometimes were branded with the mark of their god or goddess. Ptolemy Philopater had all Jews in Alexandria marked with the ivy leaf, the symbol of Dionysus. It has been done in the past, it will be done in the future. Nothing new under the sun. Turn, turn, turn.
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six(13:18).
And here is a major point of speculation on the part of numerous people over the centuries! People have overlooked the opening phrase "Here is wisdom" and have gone off on tangents that take them extremely far from what God wants them to be doing. The appeal is made to those who have understanding and as we have learned, some things will not be properly understood until the proper time arrives.
In trying to solve this riddle, some have thought that it refers to Caesar, Nero, or Caligula. Roman emperors, all prominent men in the empire for a variety of reasons, but no other reason to assume that any of them are the beast. In the Greek there is this arrangement of the number:
hexakosioi 600 hexekonta 60 hex 6
If we write the name of Caesar Nero in Hebrew (Kaisar Neron) then it has a numerical value of 666, for each letter in Hebrew has an assigned numrical value. Some other people feel that if refers somehow to the sum of the Roman numerals, which add up to 666. They think that this signifies that a Roman will be the antichrist. Writer Isbon Beckwith feels that this number most definitely is Nero. No matter what person this refers to we can know that he will be in effect a reincarnation of Nero.
The simplest explanation probably is the best at this time. The triple six is the number of a man, each falling short of the perfect number of seven. Six in scripture is man's number. Man was to work six days and rest on the seventh. The only other significance to be claimed at this time is that it implies the limitation to man's level, there is no deity involved with him. The only positive, important piece of information for us today coming out of this passage is that the first beast is a man. I should not trust man. Jeremiah 17:5-8 is applicable to this point of discussion, blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
The conclusion of this whole matter? I am not interested as to what the number of the beast is or who he is or anything personally about him, but it does make me want to know Jesus Christ more. I want to be with Him, not because of who I am or what I have done, but because Jesus Christ died for me on the cross, and by His grace I will go into His presence. How about you?
We are now going to move into chapter 14. This chapter appears to unfold in a logical, chronological, and mathematical order. Certain personages are called to our attention which give us a more full-bodied view of these spectacular event of the last two chapters. We seek an answer to the often asked questions, "How did God's people do during this period? Could they possibly remain faithful to the Lord with such overwhelming odds against them?" We will see a series of pronouncements and visions which assure us, the reader, of the ultimate victory of Christ and the judgment of the wicked.
That is for next time, beloved. We will study the first five verses of chapter 14 and find new reasons for rejoicing in Christ and to have renewed hope in our future. Until then, study the Word and think upon the precepts of our God. Make them part of you today.
Thu, Jan 10th - 2:15PM
If any man have an ear, let him hear.
He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints(13:9-10).
The desire to have all Christian church denominations unite, or to even go further and unite all religions of the world, has been put forward as a much needed goal. I doubt that it will be achieved during this church age. It will be achieved by Satan and his beast during the last 3.5 years of history. The invitation "If any man have an ear, let him hear" emphasizes the preceding relation as being very important, something that we should give all of our attention to. It is in reference to verses 1-8 of this chapter I believe. A close parallel as well as a contrast is seen between this invitation and the invitation to the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 where they are told to "hear what the Spirit says unto the churches." The omission of the phrase "unto the churches" here in 13:9 significantly supports the concept that the church, the body of Christ, has already been snatched away to heaven and is not on earth during this period. Instead we see the joining of free will and election. "Any man" is free will---"hath an ear" is election. Anyone who can hear is told to listen, and hear what is being said here. Now, does everyone hear? There are some who have ears that work just fine although they hear nothing. They simply do not listen at all.
There are a great many people who do not want to hear the Word of God, they turn off their "hearing aids" so to speak. I wish that everyone would join us here and study the bible with us each day, but I have no delusions regarding this matter. Whomever the Holy Spirit wishes to be directed to this blog and website will be directed here, eventually.
You see in verse 10 God's justice enacted. He who lives by the sword will die by the sword. He who has made people captives will become a captive himself. At this time the Antichrist will be in complete control of the world, no one will be able to freely buy, sell, or probably travel, without submitting their worship to him. The saints of God alive on the earth at this time cannot resist him, they are to be followers of Christ. We know this to be true for the remainder of the verse tells us that this "is the patience and the faith of the saints" of that time period.
And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed(13:11-12).
Now the first beast is a political leader, a political power, and a person. This second beast is a religious leader of sorts. Once we properly identify the first beast the second one is much easier to identify. The first one came out of the sea which represented the peoples of our world. The second beast comes out of the earth, which would seem to mean he is a creature of the earth rather than of heaven. Jesus went down into the earth upon his death and then arose three days later. Here we have someone who arises from the earth and has two horns like a lamb. Let's see, Jesus is the Lamb of God; this beast has two horns like a lamb. Could he be a counterfeit? It would seem that this beast is a messiah from Satan. We are seeing that the first beast opposes Christ, the second beast imitates Christ. He does not take away the sin of the world, rather he encourages all the more sin. Christ Himself said in Matthew 7:15, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves." You may also notice that it takes two men to fill the position that Christ fulfills by Himself. Some try to say that he is King Saul or Judas but that is simply speculation.
The second beast has all of the power of the first beast. He is not so much subservient to the first beast as he is on a par with him. His description depicts him with a religious character especially once we see how he is referred to in Revelation 19. If I left any of you with the impresseion that the first beast was not an actual person, I apologize here and now. This passage, and those following, clearly show that a person will receive a deadly wound and heal himself up miraculously. And now this second beast will be able to do the same for he has all of the first's power! He will force the entire world to worship the first beast, and Satan of course.
There is some evidence pointing to the conclusion that this second beast could be the head of the apostate church during the first half of Daniel's Seventieth Week. Obviously his miracles and activities tend to push men to worship the image of the first beast (13:13-17). It is clear also that he shares the leadership with the first beast throughout the great tribulation for they both get cast into the lake of fire (19:20). We will see later on in Revelation that the apostate church is symbolized as a harlot in red. She ultimately is destroyed by the first beast and yet the second beast survives to head up worldwide worship of the first beast. This seems to indicate that the second beast helps to mislead the apostate church to its doom and jumps ship prior to its destruction.
And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live(13:13-14).
The frequent use of poieo in the present tense seemingly indicates repeated actions. This fire coming down from heaven could be a mimic of either what Elijah performed in II Kings 1:10-12 or to Pentecost in Acts 2:3. It could also correspond to the fire that came out of the mouths of the two witnesses back in chapter 11:5 of this book. Satan shall deceive the masses in the end times. Satanic power will be flaunted openly by these two persons. Here we also see the second beast having an image, eikon, being made of the first beast. "Eikon" means a likeness. Everything will be focused upon this likeness of being healed from a deadly wound. Recall that Christ did not permit anything connected with His physical appearance to survive. But the likeness of the Antichrist will be flaunted before the entire world, being placed in the temple in Jersualem.
The deceptive power of the second beast is mentioned here, "of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast." In the sight of the Antichrist this beast can do all sorts of miracles. Perhaps this image will be similar in nature to that of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3, which was the symbol of his power and majesty. This image, which is mentioned three times in this chapter, is mentioned seven more times in this book (14:9,11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4). The image/idol is the center of false worship and focal point of end times apostasy, mankind's idolatry which has been the false religion of so many, many generations.
We will end there for today, beloved. Until next time, be sure to love the brethren in truth. Follow God's commandments, write them in your heart. Hide God's Word in your heart so that you will not sin against Him who was, and is, and is yet to come.
Wed, Jan 9th - 1:05PM
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven(13:5-6).
This person's evil character is shown in his boasting and cursing of God. Basically the same description of the same character is given to us in Daniel 7:8. 11, 25. Don't we see again the same 3.5 year time interval? It is most probable that this person who ends up leading the revived Roman Empire will actually be in power over a nation prior to the start of the Great Tribulation Period, we simply will be overlooking him at that time. He enters into a covenant with Israel which will enable them to seemingly rebuild the Temple and resume their sacrifices there. Blasphemy will be one of the key features of his government during this final 3.5 years which count down to Christ's Return. He will not be satisfied with just cursing God, but he will rant and rave against those who are already in heaven, and against God's dwelling place amongst the people. If this man is the same one as in Daniel 11:36-45 then he will disregard any god in total, and magnify himself above everything and everyone else. He will promise anything to anybody, and mean absolutely none of it. For this reason all of us ought to be careful listening to anyone on radio, television, or reading what is written on the internet. I most definitely include myself in this list. Do not simply believe what I am writing down here, go, and read the verses yourselves and draw your own conclusions! We need to test everything that we hear, see, and read. Antichrist is going to have charisma, and be quite attractive to the eye. Beloved, walk by faith and not by sight.
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
And all that dewll upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world(13:7-8).
This verse 7 mirrors Daniel 7:23 whre the beast devours the whole earth. This indicates his world-wide power and authority. He did not have this amount of power originally, but it was given to him from Satan. With this power he is able to wage war against the saints of God wherever they might be on the planet. This remains consistent with Daniel 7:25, 9:27, 12:10; and Revelation 7:9-17. According to God's plan the 144,000 who are sealed can not be touched by Satan during this time but other saints of God can, and will be, persecuted unto death. This global authority and rule was prophesied in Daniel 7:23 where he said that the fourth beast would devour the whole earth, and tread it down into pieces. Complete world domination finally achieved, and it will only last for 3.5 years at most!
"And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life." Mr. Spurgeon said once, "I am glad that my name was written in the Lamb's book of life before I ever got here, because if God had waited He would never have chosen me." That might be true to a certain extent, but I believe that God knew even then how unlovely each of us were. And still, He wrote our names into the book of life for He knew that we would come to accept His Son as our Saviour.
Just as the entire world will be under the political domination of the beast, so all the world except the saints will worship him. Now verse 8 presents some problems for us to solve. Some references to the book of life indicate it is the book of the living, namely, of all who are born into the world, and that those who do not trust in Christ are blotted out of it leaving only those who are saved(Revelation 3:5, 22:19). The reference to 22:19 concerns the tree of life rather than the book of life, and it seems to be preferable to not distinguish between the Lamb's book of life and the book spoken of in Revelation 3:5. The simplest explanation seems the best, that their names were written in the book of life from eternity past. Some people believe that this verse 8 states that ALL those who are living on the earth at this time are not written in the book of life and that everyone will be worshipping the beast and Satan. A weak argument could be raised in support of this concept since in verse 7 it does say that the saints were to be overcome. Presumably one could claim that this means that all saints will be martyred before verse 8 goes into effect. That is a presumption that is shakey. The grammar used does not support such a leap. We can safely say that anyone whose name is not found in the book of life WILL worship the beast and Satan. Another point of argument falls upon the phrase, "slain from the foundation of the world." Some think that this refers to the beginning of the Old Testament only. I believe that it is part of the description of the Lamb as it appears elsewhere in the scriptures. It refers to the fact that the Lamb was in effect slain before the creation was even begun. It was an appointed time set by God, unchangeable by anyone. If your name is found in the book of life you will not choose to worship the beast, his image, nor Satan. In essence, at this time in history you will become a martyr for those around you will be unable to tolerate your presence among them. Hatred will reign supreme under the banner of tolerance. Saints will be portrayed as being intolerant and thus needing to be eliminated, erased, eradicated. Sounds like a fun time, doesn't it?
That is all for today, beloved. I trust that you will spend at least a few moments to read all the verses mentioned here and make sure that I am not trying to pull the wool over your eyes. If you have questions, please leave them in the comments section after each post, or email me at: email@example.com using the subject as Blog Post ?. That way I will easily identify it as coming from this site. Until next time, walk in the Light, avoid the Darkness, guard your tongue so that you will not regret things that you happen to say. Once spoken, can anyone take back what is said? Not hardly. Does it ever work in the case of juries hearing something in the courtroom that the judge instructs them to disregard? What do you think? I think that it is really difficult to forget what you have heard. So let's strive to think before we start to speak.
Tue, Jan 8th - 3:38PM
Before we move any further along in this study I want to give to all of you four essential points for all saints. Here they are:
1. God is omnipotent and omniscient. He has already set times and dates for certain events to take place.
2. God is punctual. His plans are fulfilled on time and only at the appointed time.
3. Proper understanding of the prophetic story gives a panoramic view of God's plans.
4. Knowing God's plans gives comfort during times of great trouble and persecution because you know how long it will last.
During the early years of my marriage my wife and I would always say, "And this too shall pass." And it always did! God saw us through tough times and brought us out into sunshine, and then allowed us to enter into another fog-shrouded valley. That is the Christian life. Today my wife and I have custody of our two grandsons and will be raising them in our home. This is a time of trials and great adjustment for all involved. There are days when it looks bleak and dark, but we only need to look to Christ and REMEMBER all of the other times that He has navigated us through, and we are strengthened and encouraged to continue on to the goal in front of us. I urge all who happen to read this to embrace God's promises and trust in Him to fulfill them in your lives daily. Enough said, now let's get back to our study!
And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast(13:3).
Here is one verse that has created much speculation! This verse, together with chapter 17, verse 8, has caused many to believe that Satan actually raises the Beast from the dead. I have off and on believed this also over the years. After rereading these verses and pondering the possibilities after prayer, I have concluded along with some other commentators that this cannot be. Why, you ask? Because Satan does not have the power to raise the dead; that power has been given to Jesus Christ. The Gospel John records these words spoken by our Lord: "For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will...Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live..."(John 5:21, 25, 28-29). Only Christ can raise the dead, not Satan for he is only a created being.
Now those who think the Satan raises the Beast from the dead interpret the Beast as only a man. I thought that way for quite some time yet now I believe that this refers to both a man AND a political nation-group. Some feel that the Beast refers to the Roman Empire and that the imperial form of government will be restored in a startling manner, causing wonder. This will probably happen but it is not any sort of resurrection, for Rome never died; it fell apart. Sort of like Humpty-Dumpty. No king could put it back together again, but Antichrist can and will put the empire back together again. This is appointed by God to happen, it is part of His plans. It is unavoidable, people. Nothing that we can do will divert God's plans in the future.
I think that both of these perspectives have something of truth in them. The wounding of one of the heads of the Roman Empire seems to make sense as it seemingly died and is now going to be revived. It is important to see that one of the heads is wounded to death but no mention of the beast being dead is made. As I have pointed out in an earlier posting, often a man and his government become inseparable. The same will more than likely be going on with this restored Roman Empire.
As arguing for the Beast also being a man one only has to consider the grammar of the verse. A great delusion is going to take place with this person. The world is going to believe that he has been resurrected. It obviously can't be an actual resurrection since only Christ can do that, and we see no support to allow us to say that that is exactly what God will do here. II Thessalonians 2:11 says, "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie." The world could not accept the resurrection of Christ, but they sure are going to be gullible about the Antichrist's apparant resurrection. This is Satan's attempts to mimic Christ. Satan desires to be like the Most High God and so he desires to have a "Messiah" also. The Roman Empire will leap back into vitality under the cruel hand of a man who has successfully faked a resurrection from the dead. The world will be deluded.
We can get a better picture of the Antichrist here. The rider on the white horse of Revelation 6 brought a false peace to the world. In our recorded history we have engaged in 1500 wars and we have signed some 8,000 peace treaties. Yet we have enjoyed only two or three hundred years of actual, true peace. Someone has said, "One of the paradoxes of this age is that this is the age of Pacifism, but not the age of Peace." Huh!? The Anitchrist comes in on a false platform of bringing peace to the troubled world. We see that exact same promise made every four years here in America. We are not very peaceful, nor is anyone else. Here is what Arnold Toynbee, an English historian, said back in 1953: "By forcing on mankind more and more lethal weapons, and at the same time making the world more and more interdependent economically, technology has brought mankind to such a degree of distress that we are ripe for deifying any new caesar who might succeed in bringing the world unity and peace." How incredible is it to think that this will happen in our future? Not very incredible if someone could identify it some 54 years ago! We do this repeatedly in America during Presidential elections, and so the world will do in the future.
And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?(13:4).
Here we see the culminating moment that Satan has worked so long for! Satan being worshipped by all mankind! The final form of apostasy is not going to simply be the worship of some pagan deity long dead and forgotten by all. It is to be the worship of Satan himself for he desires to be "like God" (Isaiah 14:14). If Satan is substituting himself as God then he also must substitute the Beast as Christ who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All the world will flock to the Beast to give him homage. This historical point should happen at the beginning of the Great Tribulation Period, when one world rule happens. Do you see what all men will ask? "Who is like the beast? Who can oppose the beast?" What a parody on the worship of the true God. They will think that they are worshipping something better than the Living God because they can see this right in front of their eyes and will not be able to think critically through the delusion. Spritually blinded by God in order to fulfill His plan.
Let's stop there for today, my friends. If you are wondering why we are moving more slowly with these verses it is simply due to the immense amount of impact they have on our thinking. These are verses that can rock our perception of reality, change the way that we lead our daily lives. These are passages that will refer us back to other passages, both here in Revelation and in other parts of the scriptures. We will be seeing reference made back to Daniel, Genesis, Matthew, Romans, and Galatians just to mention a few. We will be rejoining the 144,000 who were sealed earlier, and who seemingly are virgins. We will see that the gospel will be preached to every person who is alive upon this earth, so much for the great Commission, right? But those are all things for the future. Until next time, may we all strive to understand God's Word as completely as possible, proving ourselves to be good stewards of His Word.
Mon, Jan 7th - 1:14PM
And the serpant cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ(12:15-17).
In verse 15 Satan is described as casting out a flood from his mouth. Is this literal or symbolic? Verse 16 reveals that somehow the earth prevents the flood from carrying the woman away. If we assume that this is literal then we need to check the geography of the Middle East to see if it would be possible for this to actually happen as stated. Upon looking at this area it becomes apparant that a flood of water is unlikely. There is no problem with the earth swallowing up the flood waters, just in finding where such waters would originate from. We need to keep in mind that this is Satan who would cause such a supernatural event, not God. I am unsure that Satan has such abilities. If we then consider it being a symbolic event, we could think that this represents the total effort of Satan to exterminate the believing remnant of Israel, and the resistance of earth is the natural difficulty in executing such a campaign. The terrain in the Middle East provides many places of refuge for a fleeing group of people. Whether or not we can determine with any certainty the exact meaning of these two verses, the implication is that Satan shall strive with all of his power to wipe out the remaining faithful, believing Israelites. By divine intervention Satan is thwarted in his efforts. God tells us that He will be with us, even unto the end.
Now, could this remnant be the 144,000 witnesses? Maybe, maybe not. Not enough evidence is given to us to conclude either way. The remnant mentioned here (Greek, ton loipon), literally "the rest," is not the same term for "remnant" used elsewhere as in Romans 9:27(Greek hypoleimma) and in Romans 11:5 (Greek leimma). But all these words come from the verb leipo, but normally when used of a remnant the prefix hypo is added. Some people try to construct a distinction between the woman in verse 14 as Israel in Judea and the remnant in verse 17 as Israel elsewhere in the world. Instead of a geographical contrast of position, the difference seems to be more of the nation as a whole versus the godly remnant within the nation.
A final note, all anti-Semitism is Satan inspired and will finally climax in his making a supreme effort to destroy the nation of Israel. From the brickyards of Pharoah's Egypt, Haman's gallows, Herod's cruel edict, through Hitler's Holocaust, and to the world of the Great Tribulation, Satan has led the attack against these people because of the man-child; Jesus Christ.
That ends chapter 12 and now we move on into chapter 13 where we are confronted with two more personages.
In this chapter we will be learning about the beast out of the sea and the beast out of the earth. The first beast is both a political power and a person, the second beast is a religious leader. Here we will see the great warfare that has been going on between light and darkness, between God and Satan. It is manifested, made evident, here on earth as the Great Tribulation Period draws to a close. These two beasts are presented as wild beasts. Remember the living creatures, a contrast is made with these creatures. As you may have already suspected, there is much disagreement as to the identity of the beasts. Some consider the first Beast to be a person, while others treat him as the last form of the Roman Empire. Some treat the second Beast as the Man of Sin, while others consider him merely as the prophet, or the John-the- Baptist type, for the first Beast. The difficulties come about because it is next to impossible to separate a king from his kingdom. A dictator must have a realm over which to rule, or he is no dictator at all. It seems then, that the first Beast is the Antichrist, the ruler over the restored Roman Empire. Let's begin right there.
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy(13:1),
The first ten verses of this chapter introduce us to the leader of the revived Roman Empire. Recall the description we saw in Daniel 7:7-8? Here we find it once more. An understanding of the prophecy of Daniel is very important to understanding what is found here in Revelation. This wild beast is similar to the fourth beast, the nondescript beast, in the seventh chapter of Daniel. There it represents the Roman Empire and its future. The little horn arises. The beast seems to become dormant, hibernating. Then out of one of its heads came up ten horns, out of which came a little horn. That little horn subjugated three other horns and ruled over the rest.
At the time of the Revelation much of the prophecy of Daniel had already been fulfilled. The first three beasts had all been fulfilled historically. Now, John is being focused upon that fourth beast back in Daniel. Perhaps John could already see signs of the moral decay within the Empire of his day that would soon bring it down. Now, we can find suggestions of who this man will be. Some say Nero, or Judas Iscariot, or Hitler, Stalin, or many others. That there are so many would indicate that these suggestions are not the meaning of the passage.
There has been lots of excitement in recent years about the birth of the European Union. Throughout history there have been many who have tried to reunite Europe into a single entity. Charlemagne tried it and failed. Apparantly the Roman Catholic church tried it in the Holy Roman Empire and failed. The center of the Holy Roman Empire was in Vienna, Austria and its last emperor was Franz Josef. Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, Adolf Hitler, and Mussolini all tried and failed. God was not ready at any of those times, His appointed time had not come. Nothing happens unless God wishes it to happen at that time, He is in control.
The seven heads are not so easily identified. When we get to chapter 17 we will be given more information about these seven heads but it does not narrow down anything definite concerning their identity. All seven heads obviously are guilty of blasphemy. Blasphemy manifests itself in two ways: 1) making oneself equal with God, usurping His place, and 2) slandering and taking God's name in vain. Roman emperors were guilty of the first way; the Pharisees were guilty of the second way. Some suggest that these seven heads represent forms of government through which the Roman Empire passed. These forms were kings, councils, dictators, decemvirs, military tribunes, and emperors. Or, they could represent seven great nations of history which blasphemed God: Rome, Greece, Media-Persia, Chaldea, Egypt, and Assyria. Or, they refer to the seven heads of the dragon which represent the exceptional wisdom of Satan. Confusing? How can we decide which to believe? At this point I suggest that we hold off on making any decisions, just keep these things in mind as we walk along our way.
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority(13:2).
Now we begin to see that the Antichrist combines the characteristics of the other kingdoms which Daniel saw in his vision of Daniel 7. We saw that this leopard/panther(for they are the same word in Greek) represented the Greek culture at its height. The Antichrist's kingdom will have all of the outward culture which was the glory of Greece. The bear reminds us of the Media-Persian culture with its pagan splendor and wealth. The lion reminds us of the Babylonian empire and of Nebuchadnezzar who was an autocrat, a dictator. Satan empowers this end-times beast, gives him his seat of rule, and gives him absolute authority over the nations. Is this man the incarnation of Satan? Perhaps the closest thing to it, he will be possessed by Satan. As was Judas Iscariot.
Perhaps upon pondering this some more we might want to consider the seven heads as successive phases of governmental and political history during this entire period. Or, perhaps they are successive kiings who are like subrulers under the beast? Chapter 17 might help us resolve this particular thought. Perhaps John is seeing the beast in both its historic and prophetic characters?
Shall we stop there for today? Beloved, next time we will try to figure out about the wounded head, a one world religion, who he will make war with, and perhaps a few other things. Until then, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Sun, Jan 6th - 10:43AM
Let's finish up verses 7-9, shall we? Beginning at this particular point in Revelation Satan and his hosts are excluded from the third heaven and are limited to the first and second heavens. This will cause much havoc upon earth for Satan will vent his wrath upon mankind. He will have no other object to vent upon since heaven is closed to him. This explains why the tribulation period will be so deadly. Despite all of the plagues God sends against mankind Satan's personal influence will prevent any repentence coming from men, even if some were to decide that reconsideration might be profitable. Please notice that even as Satan accused the brethren before God night and day prior to his casting down from heaven, so the four living creatures of 4:8 cease not day or night to ascribe holiness to the Lord.
These prophetic events must be taken at their face value. A major step is taken here in his ultimate defeat. First, Christ struck a blow upon His death and resurrection, creating the means for casting Satan out of heaven at this future time. And so we today who are under satanic attack and misrepresentation can take assurance of the ultimate downfall of Satan and the end of his ability to attack the saints of God.
We also are told that Satan deceives the entire world. Today he only deceives us partially, in the great tribulation period he will totally deceive the people of the world. He deceives men relative to God and the Word of God. He caused Eve to distrust God in Genesis 3:1-4. Satan deceives men relative to men. He causes us to believe that mankind is basically good and is getting better all the time. He causes us to think that we can become gods in Genesis 3:5. Satan deceives men relative to the world, to the flesh, and to the Devil. You and I, if we believe that we are big enough, tough enough, to overcome the world, the flesh, and the Devil then we have been deceived by Satan. It is painfully true. The world is too big for us, the flesh is too strong for us, and the Devil is to strong and knowledgeable for us to overcome on our own. Satan deceives men relative to the gospel. Satan does not care if we go to church or even a dozen churches. He does not care how much money we give each Sunday. He does not want us to become saved though. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them"(II Corinthians 4:4).
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time(12:10-12).
This passage heralds the coming of four great, blood-purchased, heavenly freedoms:
1. "The salvation" is consummated, or finished, in the person of Christ. This is done when we are in the presence of God as we see in I John 3:2. This could refer to when we are called to meet Him in the air, prior to the marriage feast of the Lamb.
2. "The strength" refers us to His earthly rule over all nations. Today we see how nations exercise their "strength" by taking by force what others have. Some do it through warfare openly while others do it through economics and the world of business in a much more secretive manner. All nations strive against each other, it is their nature. How much nicer it will be when Christ comes and rules over everyone! He will govern mankind with wisdom, love, and ultimate authority.
3. "And the kingdom of our God" is going to be established on the earth. No peace will ever exist over the entire planet until He comes again. Righteousness and true freedom will not be a reality until He sets up His kingdom here on earth. In America, a land of the free and home of the brave, there are not very many free individuals walking around anymore. Just think about it for a moment. The financial pressures of supporting our families, paying taxes, protecting ourselves, the loss of constitutional rights, all make us slaves to things other than freedom. We are enslaved to each of these things and the pursuit of achieving them. When Christ comes there will no longer be this form of bondage in our lives.
4. "And the power of his Christ" shows that Christ has not yet taken over the government of this world. All of these judgments are preparing for His return, giving mankind a warning and a chance to repent of their ways.
We also see victory for the accused saints shown to us:
1. "The blood of the Lamb" gives us the major avenue for overcoming. There is wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb. We should not ever forget that fact. All of the many references to the blood of the Lamb mandates it being on display in heaven. The only crudity involved here is in our sins requiring God to shed His precious blood. Our victory comes from His shed blood.
2. "The word of their testimony" reveals that they were true martyrs. If we are Christ's then we can't deny Him. Giving testimony strengthens us. Giving testimony in church is nice, but the greatest impact comes in doing so out in the godless world that surrounds us each day.
3. "They loved not their life even unto death" means that they, and us, need to make Christ the love of our lives. Put nothing and nobody before Him. With Him first in our lives we will have no problems living for Him down here on earth. Remember how Jesus asked Peter about loving Him in John 21:15-17? Service to God came after loving God, not before. We also must not forget that we are in a lifelong work, success does not come to those who run fast and then fall down and quit because they hurt, or are tired. We must endure right up to our very deaths, serve God with gladness in our hearts, even when we find ourselves faced with imminent death.
We see two radical reactions to the casting out of Satan from heaven. There is ecstatic rejoicing in all of heaven. The accuser of the saints is gone! But there is woe for all who live on earth. This is the third woe that goes through the pouring out of the seven bowls of wrath. The earth's only consolation is that this time will be very short, only 3.5 years.
And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent(12:13-14).
Here we see anti-Semitism at its worst. Why have we seen irrational fear and hatred of the Jewish people? Because from them came Jesus Christ, the Promised One, the Messiah. Satan will vent his fury upon the nation of Israel. This is most likely the Time of Jacob's Trouble and this is a good reason not to rejoice in the fact that Israel is a nation once again. They returned to that land for the Great Tribulation, not so much for the Millennium.
"Two wings of a great eagle" represent the way that the remnant of Israel will escape Satan's persecution. Some believe that it represents the wings of great big jet aircraft that will carry them to safety at Petra. I do not think that in this age of missiles, high altitude bombers, and attack helicopters that they would be safe there. This is speaking of Israel since God has used this term in the past in His dealings with the nation, as in Exodus 19:4.
"Into the wilderness, into her place." Scripture does not say that Petra will be their safe-haven. Some believe that the "wilderness" means the peoples of the world; that the worldwide scattering of Israel is being referred to. In Matthew 24:16 they were told they must flee into the mountains and so we should believe it to be a literal wilderness, perhaps the same one they spent 40 years in under Moses. This time it will only be for 3.5 years. The actual place is probably not as important as the fact that God is going to protect them from Satan by His grace. They will be fed just as they were while wandering in the wilderness those 40 years, there will not be starvation. We can safely believe that not the entire nation will flee, since in Zechariah 13:8-9 we see that only one third of the nation's people shall be refined by God. Some think that the place might be within the Garden of Eden which is a paradise. I do not think that God will allow any to enter into that Garden at this time. No scriptures indicate this as a possiblity and so we shouldn't speculate along these lines.
That is all for today, beloved. I hope and pray that you all have a glorious first day of the week, praising Christ for all that He has done for you. I hope that this message has fed you and provided you with extra areas of personal study. Until next time, peace and grace be with you all.
Fri, Jan 4th - 12:58PM
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days(12:5-6).
The woman identifued as Israel gives birth to a baby boy who is to rule over all the countries of the earth. This child is Christ. This child is not the church, for all of the identifiers point towards Jesus Christ. "Who was to rule all the nations with a rod of iron" is a clear-cut reference to Christ. Psalm 2:9 reads, "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." In Acts 4 this verse is quoted, identifying Christ as the One to rule with a rod of iron. Some people claim that the man child is the church and that this is the rapture. The Greek words for "man-child," hyion arsen, with their emphasis upon gender (arsen means "male") favor identification of this child as Christ rather than as the church which would be feminine in gender. In addition, the other expressions associated with this child do not run consistently with the church.
The catching up, or rapture, of the man-child to God and to His throne seems to be a picture of the ascension of Christ. Some people feel that this cannot be picturing the ascension of Christ since "was caught up" logically implies being delivered from danger. I do not agree with their generalization of the meaning of this word. The Greek word here, harpazo, sometimes is used to mean "to seize" or "to catch up" as a wild beast would do to its prey, as it is used in John 10:12. But the exact same word is also used in I Thessalonians 4:17 where the church is caught up to heaven, no wild beasts involved. This same word is again used of Paul being caught up to paradise in II Corinthians 12:2, 4. If, the 24 elders are properly identified as the church in heaven then it would appear a mixture of metaphors would happen if the man-child is the church also, especially when the church is regarded in chapter 19 of Revelation as the wife and bride of Christ.
Christ's death was emphasized in the Gospels, His resurrection was emphasized in the Epistles, and His ascension is emphasized in Revelation. Today we too often ignore Christ's ascension and thus do not focus upon His present ministry. The book of Revelation is the unveiling of the ascended Christ, the glorified Christ, the Christ who is returning in glory. This entire book rests upon the fact His ascension did happen. Christ is the one who has been opening the seals on the book, He is the one who has been ordering the angels to do certain things at certain times. We saints are told in Hebrews 12:2, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." What do you think that He has been doing all of this time? Twirling His thumbs? Playing with His yo-yo? He has a present ministry with the church of today.
"And the woman fled into the wilderness" directs our attention back to Israel, whom the woman represents here. Not the virgin Mary, but the nation. There are several scriptures that illuminate this point; Romans 9:4-5, Galatians 4:4-5, Galatians 3:16, Isaiah 9:6. Jesus was born unto Israel, He was an Israelite. Nation Israel is seen here in a time of tribulation, fleeing into the wilderness for safety. Will this be the entire nation, or just a remnant? I lean towards a remnant since that has been an on-going theme throughout the bible up to this point. Some dogmatically claim that they will flee to the rock-hewn city of Petra and will be preserved there for no enemy can get in. That may have been true long ago, but today with aircraft and bombs and missiles I do not think that that remains true anymore. Where this place might be is anyone's guess. We can be sure of one thing: it will be there for God is the One who prepares it for those who will flee to it. When will this flight to safety take place? Since Israel is in comparative tranquility and safety during the first 3.5 years of Daniel's Seventieth Week (Daniel 9:27), this reference must be to the second half of that prophetical week. The same period of time is used here as it has in other places within scripture, 3.5 years. We see consistency within scripture once more.
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpant, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him(12:7-9).
Some believe that this relates ancient history, a time when God threw Satan out after the incident in the Garden of Eden. Sounds good, but does it remain consistent with other scriptures? In the book of Job we are shown that Satan came with the sons of God to appear before God (Job 1-2). He apparantly had as much access as they did. He had been created the highest angelic being. We also see in Zechariah 3:1-2 "And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, the Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" Satan obviously has access to God, and he is able to carry on conversations with God. Luke 22:31 tells us: "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." There was no Western Union telegram, nor a Sprint phone call from Satan to God requesting this to be allowed. No, Satan made that request in person, in front of God in heaven.
We are given all of the important titles of Satan in verse nine. "That old serpant" refers us all the way back to the Garden of Eden. "Devil" comes from the Greek word diabolos, meaning to defame or slander. The Hebrew word for Satan means "adversary" giving us a better idea of who we are up against in these end days. Some people refuse to believe that any kind of warfare could possibly happen in heaven. But here we are given the information that open warfare will exist in heaven and the end result will be the casting out of Satan and his demons.
I will stop here for now, beloved. I will finish these thoughts concerning verses 7-9 and continue on in chapter 12. Until then, be sure that God orders the steps of a good man. God finishes the good work that He begins in each of us. All good works come from the Lord, not from us.
Thu, Jan 3rd - 1:54PM
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born(12:3-4).
Another personage is introduced to us here. This one is not very delightful, nor is it very uplifting. This red dragon is not any comic strip characterization, it is a very real thing. Please notice that these are signs that are given to us, they are not literal as were the previous things that we saw. From the similar description given later in 13:1 and a parallel reference in Daniel 7:7-8, 24, it is clear that the revived Roman Empire is in view. Satan, however, is also called the dragon later in 12:9, so it is known that the dragon is both the empire and the representation of satanic power. The color red may indicate his murderous intent or his penchant for spilling blood. The seven heads and ten horns refer us to the original ten kingdoms of which three were subdued by the little horn of Daniel 7:8, who is to be identified with the world ruler of the great tribulation who rules over the revived Roman Empire.
By keeping in mind 12:9 properly identifies this red dragon as Satan, we can then see the true character of Satan revealed:
1. He is called "great" because of his vast power. He controls all of the nations of the world and offered them to the Lord Jesus if He would only worship him(see Matthew 4:8-9). Worship of himself is Satan's ultimate goal for this is what he has been after ever since his original rebellion in heaven.
2. He is called "red" because of the fact that he was a murderer from the beginning (see John 8:44). He has no regard for human life. He uses anything at all to destroy human life. Why is alcohol such a devastating agent of destruction in someone's life? It is because Satan is behind it, and he has absolutely no regard for human life.
3, He is called a "dragon" because of the viciousness of his character. He was originally created Lucifer, son of the morning (see Ezekiel 28:12-19), but he is now the epitome of evil and the depth of corruption. He is the most dangerous being in all of God's creation. He is my enemy, and he is your enemy if you are a child of God.
The reason that the Beast of chapter 13 and the dragon are so similar is that both the restored Roman Empire and Antichrist are empowered and controlled by Satan. Rome, through the instruments of Herod and Pilate, tried to destroy the child of the woman. "Seven heads" suggests the perfection of wisdom which characterized the creation of Satan who was originally the "covering cherub." Ezekiel 28:12 speaks of how he was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty originally. This reveals two of the falshoods that the world has concerning Satan. Everyone thinks that he is ugly, but in reality, he was created "perfect in beauty." If you were to see him today, you would not see the foul creature usually pictured in newspapers, movies, and comic books. Satan is smart, he's clever, and he is wise. You and I are no match for him at all. He will overcome us if we try to stand in our own strength against him.
"The third of the stars of heaven"tells us that Satan has tremendous influence within creation. Daniel makes reference to this being one third of the angels in heaven following Satan rather than following God, admittedly it is a difficult passage (Daniel 8:10). Jude 6 also tells us what happened to this third of the stars which were swiped from the heavens by the red dragon's tail.
The dragon is seen awaiting the birth of the child in order to devour it immediately. Why does the dragon hate this Man Child so much? Because it was predicted from way back in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. Satan was told directly that the child would be his undoing. "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shalt buise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel"(Genesis 3:15). Unmistakably this alludes to the circumstances that surrounded the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. As I mentioned earlier, Satan controlled Herod, who slaughtered how many baby boys? Satan controlled Rome and used it to try and get Christ off of the hook for crucifixion. Yes, your read that right. I will explain that soon. Now, Herod was an Edomite, a descendant of Esau and of the people who were the traditional enemies of Jacob and his descendants. In either case of family motivation or political considerations as king, he fulfilled Matthew 2:16-18 in the destruction of children in Bethlehem.
Another ploy of Satan's during the crucifixion, since he failed to kill the Man Child before this point, was to try and prevent prophecy from becoming fulfilled. In Matthew 27:2 we see Christ bound and led away to stand before Pilate the governor. In the ensuing verses we see that the chief priests took counsel trying to figure out how to kill Christ, yet at the same time Pilate was seeking ways to free Him. Strange, isn't it? Who was serving Satan's purposes at this point in history? In verse 17 of Matthew 27 we see Pntius Pilate trying to free Jesus but to no avail. The Sanhedrin were vehement in crucifying Him. If we leap ahead several verses to verse 39 we then begin seeing Satan's subtle plan to thwart salvation. Those people passing by the knoll of Golgotha called to Jesus to save Himself, to come down from the cross. Now also, the Sanhedrin mocked Him and sought for Him to save Himself by coming down from the cross. We see the same record in Mark 15:29-32, again in Luke 23:35-39. Can you see Satan lurking in the back fringes of the crowd? Can you see how he has finally figured out what the "trap" for him is? For so long Satan has tried to kill Christ that it took him too long to figure out that by this point in time death is exactly what Christ is here for. Christ came to die for mankind and now it can not be allowed to happen! But Satan was not in control anymore, God was. It was the appointed time, finally. Now Satan wanted Jesus to come down off of that cross, needed Him to decide to come down from off of that cross. As wise as Satan is he failed to understand what form his fate would appear in. It had been there in the Tabernacle rituals and ordinances for centuries, hidden in plain sight. It was too late for Satan, his doom hung on a cross right in front of him and he could do absolutely nothing to stop it. How futile he must have felt at that point. How angry he must have been that day, and still is to this very day! He roams to and fro in this world, seeking whom he may devour. If he can't have Christ, then he will settle on taking as many of us as he possibly can. That is also why we must put on the whole armor of God. Protect yourselves, beloved! Ask God for spiritual protection.
That is all for today, my friends. Until next time, Be thankful for God's wisdom which surpasses our wildest imaginations.
Wed, Jan 2nd - 2:43PM
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth(11:15-18).
The sounding of the seventh trumpet is very significant and ought to help us to understand the remainder of the book of Revelation. In God's plans it brings us time-wise to the absolutely breathtaking entrance of eternity where the mystery of God is revealed. There is a broad outline of events given to us in these verses, given by the Holy Spirit. This is like a syllabus, a capsule, of the events up to the entryway of eternity. Eight things are listed here:
1. "Great voices in heaven" follow the blowing of the trumpet. At the opening of the seventh seal there was silence in all of heaven. Here there are declarations made. All of the heavenly host can see the end now and are rejoicing in anticipation of the termination of all evil.
2. "The kingdoms of the world" means that earthly rule will pass into the hands of God. Up to now all of the nations have been under Satan's power, but now all become subject to God's authority. Satan's condemned civilization becomes the kingdom of God. Rebellion broke out against the Lord and His Christ at the arrest of Jesus. The Lord Jesus is coming to put down the rebellion, once and for all.
3. "And the twenty-four elders, sitting before God on their thrones" shows the celebration and worshipping that shall take place amongst believers in heaven. Now these elders have appeared seven times in this book up to this point. Here they reaffirm God's eternal nature, giving thanks for the fulfillment of Psalm 2:9. Two times in verse 17 our attention is directed to the power of God, almighty and power are used in combination to describe the strength of our Lord. This verse also answers our current day prayer, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven"(Matthew 6:10).
4. "The nations were angry" reveals the sorry fact that the stubborn rebellion of man will go on right down to the very end. Stiffnecked. Hardhearted. Unrepentent. This old nature, this carnal nature that you and I have, is not obedient to God. You cannot make this old nature obey God. This is what Paul wrote to us about in Romans 8:7. This is why God is getting rid of our old nature one day. To free us totally. There is also a bit of a play on words if we look at the word used to translate angry and wrath. The same Greek word is used and points out the impotence of man's anger versus the omnipotence of God's wrath. The wrath of men is wicked; the wrath of God is holy.
5. The nations were angry because "thy wrath came." They had heard for years and years how God is all about love and meekness and humbleness, how God will save everyone and that man is getting better and better each day. Now the reality is hitting home, that man is getting worse all of the time and that God will punish sin and hold everyone accountable for their actions.
6. "And the time of the dead to be judged" apparantly brings us to the time when believers are judged for rewards to be given. Mention is made of servants, prophets, saints, and those who fear God's name. This does not include those who are unbelievers. This seemingly refers to the rapture, which in turn would point us to concluding that the rapture may not happen until the end of tribulation. If you remember, I said earlier that there was apparantly a point in Revelation where the church must have been raptured out since it is not mentioned anymore. This passage could refute that conclusion. But it still remains that there will be a rapture, we just have difficulties in identifying the exact point in the tribulation period where it actually will happen. Obviously, God does not want us to know exactly when we will be taken out of this eroding world, it is not the important point in all of God's Word. We are to look toward His return, be ready for whenever it actually occurs. Some people claim that this passage shows that all of the dead will be judged at this time. But it does not claim that. It is contradicted by the fact that the end of verse 18 speaks of God then destroying them which destroy the earth. If all of the wicked dead are judged before this, then what happens to those wicked dead from the last half of verse 18? You can see the problem created by assuming this point. What we are left with is that this a time of divine wrath, a time of resurrection of the dead and their reward, and a time of special dealing with those living upon the earth. Believers shall receive their just reward at this time.
7. "And to give the reward to your servants..." continues our thought from the last point #6. I would think that this could very well refer to Old Testament believers since the terminology used is very similiar. Servants, prophets, them that fear your name. All are used in the Old Testament to speak of those who had utmost faith in God. It also seemingly includes saints of our day. Tribulation maryrs? Could be.
8. "And to destroy those who destroy the earth" could refer to both man and Satan. Man is a destroyer of the earth, as is Satan. We are not told that all other people on earth are destroyed at this time. That is assuming more than what is actually said here. I think that this refers to the armies of the Beast and Antichrist who encircled Jerusalem and we discovered earlier will be consumed with fire from God.
And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail(11:19).
Here we see the temple of God up in heaven whereas later on we will see that in the New Jerusalem there will be no temple. The temple which Moses made a copy of was made after the pattern in heaven. The temple was opened to worship and access to the presence of God. This is pointed toward Israel since the church today has no temple building as such. This should alert us to the fact that the coming things could quite possibly have to do with nation Israel. The mention of the ark of His testimony furthers this thought, and also should remind us that we deal with a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. He said that He would keep His covenant with Israel and that He would make a New Covenant with them at this time. He will write the Law in their hearts instead of on cold tablets of stone(Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-13).
The lightnings, voices, thunderings, and great hail all speak of judgments yet to come. They remind us that God is speaking from His throne in heaven.
That finishes chapter 11, and now we move into chapter 12 where the narrative is not advanced but rather, we are given greater detail of the tribulation period. Several personages are introduced to us; the woman, the dragon, the man-child, Michael, Israel, the beast out of the sea, the beast out of the earth. Much has been written about what these represent symbolically.
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
And she being with child cried, travailing birth, and pained to be delivered(12:1-2).
This first personality will illustrate the fact that proper identification and clarification of each of these personages is essential for a proper understanding of this book. One minister long ago said, "If you tell me your interpretation of the woman in the 12th chapter of Revelation, then I'll tell you your interpretation of prophecy." Makes lots of sense, doesn't it? This woman is a key.
The $64 Million dollar question here is, "Who is this woman?" The Roman Catholic Church believes that she is the Virgin Mary. Most Protestants believe that she is the church of all ages. There have been several female founders of cults who could not resist the temptation of seeing themselves pictured in this woman. Joanna Southcott said that she herself was the woman in chapter 12 and that in October, 1814, she would have the man child. She never did have the man child, but she did attract 200,000 followers. Several instances have occured here in the United States. Some have been in southern California, but they weren't this woman.
This woman has specific marks; the sun, the moon, and twelve stars. In Genesis 37:9-10 we see this: "And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?" See, Jacob knew what that dream indicated. He had no doubts whatsoever.
This woman is a sign in heaven although her occupation is here on earth. This is not a literal woman; she is a symbol. She corresponds to Israel, for it was Israel that gave birth to Christ, who is the Child. At Christmastime we use Isaiah 9:6 to highlight Jesus' birth. Does this verse concern the birth of Christ? Yes, it does. Does this verse concern the church? No, it does not. Isaiah was not speaking to the church but to nation Israel. He was not speaking about a Savior, but about a Ruler, a King, One who was to come and rule over the nation. To Israel was born a child, but to Israel was given a Son from God. In Romans 9:4-5 we can read, "Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." We could also look at Micah 5:2-3 and at Isaiah 66:7-8 to gain even more understanding of this second verse in chapter 12.
And so we identify the woman as the nation Israel. If we remain consistent we know that this represents something other than the church of all ages. "Being tormented" could very well refer to the anti-Semitism from the time of the birth of Christ to the present time, perhaps even before that for Satan knew that Christ had to come from Israel.
We will stop there for today. Next time we will look at the dragon, the red dragon. We will also look at the child of the woman. Until then,beloved, be ready in season, out of season, to give proof of your hope.
Tue, Jan 1st - 10:40AM
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified(11:7-8).
These two witnesses will finish their appointed testimony before the nations and then be killed by the beast. In the midst of Daniel's Seventieth Week, the Antichrist, who is the Beast, the Man of Sin who is moving to power, will first bring back the Roman Empire. Then, once he gains the whole world and places it under his control, he will overcome and destroy these two witnesses. He will be permitted to do so by Christ. It will fulfill prophecy and also suit His purposes. This is a temporary victory of darkness over light, evil over righteousness, hell over heaven, and Satan over God, simply because God is going to allow Satan freedom during this period of time.
Martus is the Greek word for "witness"; we get our English word martyr from that. They truly are martyrs in that they are killed out in public view and not even given a proper burial. Their bodies are to be left out in the street of Jerusalem where they were killed. A public spectacle so that all may see the power of the Man of Sin and be awed. It also reveals the crude, barbaric nature of these last days on earth. In Moscow two bodies of men lay on display in Red Square, Lenin and Stalin. Only Lenin lays there now, Stalin's body was removed many years ago. What kind of thinking does these sorts of things?
The word used for bodies, "carcasses", highlights the contempt and hatred poured towards these two witnesses. They are treated as dead animals.
"The great city" is none other than Jerusalem. Isaiah likened it to Sodom in Is. 1:10. It is called Egypt because the world has entered into every fiber of its life; social and political. The last phrase in verse 8 positively identifies it for us, "where also their Lord was crucified."
And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
And they tht dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth(11:9-10).
The entire world is going to be watching these two witnesses. Obviously something like CNN or Headline News will still be functioning and broadcasting up to the minute coverage of events as they are happening around the globe. Some people will be skeptical, some startled to see, or hear, that these two persons are now dead. People are going to be glued to their televisions watching these two marytrs lay in the street for three and a half days. A godless society will gloat and relish the fate of these two prophets of God. A godless world system will need this opportunity to gloat after being subjected for 3.5 years to the testimony coming from these prophets. Possibly to prevent another "empty tomb" episode, Satan does not allow for any burial to take place. Let's keep them right out in plain view of everyone.
People will not only be watching out of morbid curiosity, they are going to be celebrating their deaths, giving gifts to each other! Imagine! Partying will be happening around the planet. I picture a global Mardi Gras going on the entire three and half days. Man's true nature being revealed in all of its ugly splendor. Mankind celebrates what Satan has done rather than celebrate the second coming of Christ to our earth. But wait, something happens to rain upon their merry parade!
And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them(11:11).
I can imagine the shock that must appear on their faces. A world wide jubilee coming crashing to a halt. How will the commentators of that day try to spin that event? How will they now regret having their cameras panned upon these two men! The scriptural word for resurrection is used here in this verse--the Greek word histeme--"they stood upon their feet." This news is a reporter's dream come true, a scoop! Can you see the headlines atop all of the newspapers? "THEY STOOD UPON THEIR FEET!" Perhaps by this date these things will be broadcast upon huge screens in city squares across the world. Fear and awe will strike the hearts of mankind worldwide once again.
And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them(11:12).
Christ calls them home, to heaven. And in front of the entire world no less! No room for denials of what just took place, everyone sees what takes place. We have the resurrection of the two witnesses, and we have the ascension of the two witnesses, and we have the cloud of glory taking them up to heaven. Sort of sound like Jesus Christ? God does not want people to not get the picture. He gave them the Gospel message for 3.5 years, then He gives them a visual reminder of His Son's gift to all of them.
And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven(11:13).
A fourth of the world's population had been slain at first, then a third of the population remaining was slain, and now 7,000 more are added to the total, more than one half of all of the billions of people are now dead. This particular earthquake seems to be limited to the Jerusalem area, just as it apparantly was during His crucifixion. The question I wonder is whether or not these 7,000 who died were random, or were they folk who had embraced and encouraged the policies of the Antichrist? Speculation on my part.
The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly(11:14).
Here we have the ending of the second woe and the third woe is right on its heels. But we will soon see that the third woe is not spoken of until chapter 12, verse 12. Something else occurs before that next woe affects earth.
We will finish exploring chapter 11 next time, beloved. Until then, remember that the same promise God gave to Abraham He has given to each of us who through faith have believed Christ died for us so that we could have eternal life through Him. So, beloved, build yourselves up on your holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.
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