Thursday, February 28, 2013

BABYLON THE GREAT – MOTHER OF HARLOTS (Post #21)

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For those truly interested in gaining the best understanding of these next two chapters, I recommend that you take the time to read Isaiah 13-14 and Jeremiah 50-51, companion scripture passages that prophesy of the final destruction of Babylon.

Revelation 17 opens with one of the angels that emptied out one of the last seven vial judgments taking John into the wilderness to show him “the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters (v1).”  This woman is later identified by the angel as “that great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth (v18).”  The angel also reveals that the waters she sits on are “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues (v15).”  In other words, her influence is worldwide.  This woman is said to have committed fornication with the kings of the earth and to have made those that dwell on earth “drunk with the wine of her fornication (v2).”  I believe context will prove the reference is primarily to spiritual adultery, though it cannot be denied that many who have followed her practiced physical adultery as well.

Jeremiah uses some of the same terminology as he prophesies of the final destruction of Babylon.

Jeremiah 51:7 & 13 “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad…. O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness.”

Note that Jeremiah reveals that the actions of Babylon have always been under the sovereign power of God and that He has used her in accomplishing His purposes.  This thought can be troubling.  Truth is, however, that God in His sovereign will chose to give man freedom of will even though He knew that man would choose to rebel against Him and follow the lead of the very first rebel—Satan.  I believe He did that because He wanted a love relationship with us; He wasn’t interested in the love of programmed robotic entities.  His plan of redemption would require that His people suffer times of judgment and discipline that He would often accomplish using the desires and choices of wicked men that chose to reject Him.  All of these wicked men were followers of the false religions that were birthed in Babylon, but I am getting ahead of myself.

When John actually sees the whore, she is sitting on a scarlet colored beast that has seven heads and ten horns; this beast is said to be full of names of blasphemy.  Note that this description mirrors that of the dragon identified as Satan in chapter 12 and the beast that arose from the sea identified as the Antichrist, the puppet of Satan.

Revelation 12:3 “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.”

Revelation 13:1 “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.”

John makes the point that the woman is sitting on the beast.  This is a picture of the fact that she is supported by and derives her power from the beast.  This woman is wearing purple and scarlet and is adorned with gold, pearls and other gems.  She is holding in her hand a golden cup “full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication.”  There is a name written on her forehead—“MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” 

I found a quote in the writings of E. W. Bullinger with which I agree.  “The cup is one.  This tells us that the corrupt streams which flow from this one fountainhead are all one in essence, character, and effect.  It is the religion originally instituted at Babylon, by Nimrod, at the instigation of Satan.  It is seen in all the great religions of the world.  They are all alike in substituting another God for the God of the Bible:  a god made either with the hands or with the imagination; but equally made.  And a religion consisting of human merit.  These things are common to all systems of false religion, and unite them in one.”

I believe the writing in her forehead affirms Bullinger’s statement.  She is the mother city, Babylon, of all harlots or false religions that developed throughout the world.  There is nothing good about these false religions; they all lead to eternal damnation.  

John is said to look at this woman with wonder much the way we are drawn to watch “terrible” accidents or situations (e.g., 9-11-01) and try to process what we are seeing.  He sees her drunk with the blood of the saints and the martyrs of Jesus.

The angel goes on to explain to John that the beast carrying her “was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition.”  We’ve already learned that the scripture uses the term “mountains” to describe both kings and kingdoms.  In this case we know that the woman represents a city, so it would make sense for the beast to represent not only Satan in the person of Antichrist but the kingdom she rules on his behalf.  Reminder—Her sphere of authority is spiritual or religious, but that influence is powerful and results in economic prosperity as well.

It’s like the angel is trying to help us understand by telling us that the seven heads of the beast are seven mountains upon which she sits.  Those seven mountains have had 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 (v10).”  It would seem that this woman has held sway in each of these kingdoms—each one rooted in the false religion of Babylon of old, the place where Nimrod led the world of that time in rebellion against God and went on to establish his kingdom.

Micah 5:5–6 “And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men. And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.”

The kings/kingdoms that had fallen were Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, MedoPersia and Greece; the kingdom that “is” to John would have been Rome.  The one “not yet come,” according to Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (as stated in Post #16), would arise from the remains of the Roman Empire as a ten-part confederacy.  This would mirror the ten horns of the beast on which the whore is sitting and are identified as ten kings who will enjoy power for a short time in confederacy with the beast (v12).

The angel identifies the beast “that was and is not” as the eighth that is one of the seven.  In other words, he emerges as the eighth king but was originally one of the first seven and is headed to perdition.  Just so you know, I am trying to think this through afresh as I write this.  Crazy as it seems, my first thought was that it could be a reference to Nimrod reincarnate.  As I continued to think it through, it makes more sense to be a reference to the resurrection of the Antichrist from the “apparently” fatal blow that he suffers as detailed in chapter 13.  I believe what makes him distinct after his resurrection is that he is then indwelt by Satan.  There is only one other person in scripture that is described as a son of perdition—Judas Iscariot; and he was indwelt by Satan before betraying Jesus.  Satan will declare himself to be God in the person of Antichrist and will actually end up leading the armies of the world in battle against Jesus at His return.

Point is made that those whose names are not written in the book of life will be filled with awe at the resurrection of the Antichrist.  This implies that those whose names are in the book of life will not be so awestruck.  Why?  I think it is because they will understand what is happening from the word of God.

(to be continued…)

Monday, February 25, 2013

THE FINAL PLAGUES OF GOD’S WRATH POURED OUT (Post #20)


This post will be based on the record of Revelation 16:10-21.

Once the fifth angel pours out his plague of wrath, the kingdom of the beast is covered in darkness.  The wording allows for the thought that this “darkness” could be a reference to spiritual darkness, the overwhelming evil and wickedness that covers the world at this time.  No reference is made to the sun or moon as specifically referenced in previous judgments.  Many verses in scripture use darkness as a reference to evil.

Matthew 6:23 “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Luke 11:34 “The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.”

John 3:19 “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Men are pictured gnawing their tongues for pain; they are still suffering from ulcers, scarcity of water and scorching heat—let alone the suffering caused when evil is allowed to run rampant.  Do they turn to God in repentance?  No, they actually choose to blaspheme His name rather than seek His forgiveness. 

The effects of the sixth plague will occur over a period of time.  The vial is poured over the waters of the Euphrates River to dry it up to prepare a crossing for a great army from the kings of the east. 

John also sees spirits that look like “frogs” emerge from the mouths of the dragon/Satan, the Antichrist and the False Prophet—the false trinity.  We are not left to wonder at their purpose.

Revelation 16:14 “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.”

It is significant to note that these spirits are said to work miracles.  I think this will be crucial to the success of their mission in light of the disastrous plagues striking the world during this time.  They will need to be convinced that they are joining up with a winning cause. 

The first part of the next verse is a bit harder for me to understand in light of the biblical record so readily available.

Revelation 16:15 “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”

A thief comes unexpectedly.  I think it must be that the world is so full of evil that the words of scripture will not be widely known.  The forces of evil will truly be taken by surprise when Jesus returns as King.  Once again, for those who have turned to God in faith and treasure His word, He gives a word of encouragement for them to persevere and not give up.  The next verse is also very interesting.

Revelation 16:16 “And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”

This is a very interesting “he” used here.  You immediately think of the Antichrist as the one who is gathering his forces together to do battle.  The last person speaking to whom the he would apply is Jesus.  Jesus is the one in control and has been all along—He will dictate the time and place of this gathering.  Where did He choose?  Armageddon—the hill country of Megiddo.

Once the armies of the Antichrist are gathered, or maybe while they are gathering, the seventh angel pours out his plague into the air; and a great voice from the temple declares “It is done”—God’s wrath is complete.  The time has come for Jesus to remove Satan from power and assume His kingship on earth.

David Guzik made another good point, “The fact that the bowl is poured into the air may show judgment against the prince of the power of the air and his allies.”
Ephesians 2:2 “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience….”

As with the 7th seal and 7th trumpet, there are voices, thunder, lightnings and an earthquake.  This earthquake, however, is described as the most devastating earthquake ever “since men were upon the earth.” 

Revelation 16:18-19 “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. 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.”

As I have continued to meditate in Revelation, it occurs to me that this seems to indicate that that there might have been an earthquake that would have compared to this earthquake before man was on the earth.  This again takes my thoughts back to the fall of Satan and his angels and that event’s probable impact on our planet.  (But that is another study; see my journal on Genesis 1.)

This earthquake causes Jerusalem to divide into three sections and causes the cities of the nations to fall—in fact, we are told that it causes islands and mountains to disappear.  Along with the earthquake, people are bombarded from the skies with huge hailstones weighing somewhere between 85-95 lbs.

In my studies I found an interesting quote attributed to John Abent regarding the sixth seal and the seventh vial judgments.  He states that they “form a giant inclusio in the Greek.  With the sixth seal open we are told that the great Day of God’s/the Lamb’s wrath ‘has come’ and with the seventh vial we are told ‘it is done.’”

John then points out that God has not forgotten Babylon, the birthplace of false religion.  In the next post we will focus on this topic as God reveals to John the fall of Babylon.

(to be continued…)

Friday, February 22, 2013

THE WICKED BEGIN TO SUFFER THE FULNESS OF GOD’S WRATH (Post #19)


Please read Revelation 15-16:9 for biblical support of the thoughts presented in this post. 

John’s attention is once again turned to heaven to behold seven angels with the seven last plagues of God’s wrath against evil on earth.  Then he sees a group of people with harps standing on what looks like a glass or clear, peaceful sea mingled with fire.  The people are identified as having gotten victory over the beast and had refused to take his mark.  They may not have felt like they were on the winning side for however long they had to endure through the tribulation, but once they got to heaven they realized the great reward of their faith.  This group is distinct from those in Revelation 7:9 and are specifically identified as tribulation believers.  This tells me that those believers who die during the tribulation are immediately translated into incorruptible bodies to the presence of the Lord.

John notes that they are singing praise and worship songs authored by Moses and Jesus in honor of the Father.  Maybe Psalm 90 is one of the songs; maybe they are new songs composed in heaven.  The songs emphasize the truth and righteousness of God in light of His judgments.

Once again John sees the temple in heaven opened.  Note that the temple is identified as the place that houses the testimony, the Decalogue (from the Greek), the Ten Commandments.

Revelation 15:5 “And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened….”

This is just an affirmation to me that the ark of the covenant is in heaven as declared in chapter 11.

John then sees the angels with the seven plagues emerge from the temple; they are wearing clothing of pure and white linen with golden breast bands.  I think this is indicative of the righteous justice they will dispense.  They are not ashamed of what they are doing; they are not unwilling servants.  They are totally loyal and committed to obeying God.  They know His character.  They know His actions are holy, just and righteous.

One of the four beasts then gives them vials full of the wrath of God to mix with their plagues; this will result in the worst possible torment and destruction once they are poured out.  Jesus declared this very truth.

Matthew 24:21–22 “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”

Chapter 15 closes with a statement that reminds me of God’s appearance to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

Revelation 15:8 “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.”

Exodus 19:16–18 “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.”

The angels are commanded by a great voice from the temple to go and pour out their vials of wrath.  This Greek implies that the vials will be emptied quickly and with a drowning like impact.  All the angels receive the command to go at the same time, and the next few verses indicate that these judgments come in rapid succession. 

When the first angel empties his vial on the earth, those who have received the mark of the beast and worshipped his image will develop an ulcer-like sore that causes great anguish.
The second angel empties his vial on the sea, and it thickens or becomes semi-solid like the blood of a dead man.  This causes every living soul in the sea to die.

The third angel empties his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; these represent the fresh waters necessary for life.  They became blood; it doesn’t say “as” blood or “like” blood.  I think this is a good point to note the difference in these judgments and the trumpet judgments.  The trumpet judgments were limited in their impact (thirds).  The vial judgments are universal in their impact.  I just don’t see how you can’t accept that these judgments unfold chronologically.

It’s interesting that after the third vial is poured out, the angel of the waters (which I believe is the angel pouring out the vial) takes the time to declare the righteousness of God in using this judgment.  Water is life giving.  Unrepentant man deserves this judgment since he is responsible for taking the life, “shedding the blood,” of the saints and prophets.  They deserve being given blood to drink. 

Another angel then speaks from the area of the altar affirming God’s righteousness.

I think it is significant that the angels seem to take every opportunity to speak of God’s eternal state and praise Him as Lord God Almighty and affirm the rightness and righteousness of His judgments.

The fourth angel pours out his vial upon the sun.  He is given power to scorch men with fire.  What does man do when he experiences this great heat?  Does he repent and beg for mercy?  No.  He blasphemes the name of God, the power behind the plagues.  They still refuse to repent and give Him glory.  I found a verse in Malachi that seems to apply here.

Malachi 4:1 “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.”

(to be continued…)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

THE GREAT WINEPRESS OF GOD’S WRATH (Post #18)


In this post we continue in Revelation 14.  Again, I want to encourage you to begin at the beginning for the best understanding.  God is revealing things to us through John in a specific order for a reason.  As always, please use God’s word to determine the validity of my comments.

In the previous posts we have come to the point that the beast and his false prophet possess worldwide power and authority.  God’s two powerful witnesses in Jerusalem and the 144,000 Jewish evangelists are now in heaven with the previously raptured body of believers.  God has sent out angels to declare the everlasting gospel throughout the earth, to announce the destruction of Babylon, to warn people on earth that taking the mark of the beast will result in eternal condemnation and to encourage people of faith to persevere in these hard times because the reward will be far greater than the suffering they may endure for a time.

John now hears a declaration from heaven that those believers who die during the last half of the tribulation will be blessed; they will be at rest and free from the struggle and suffering that will characterize the life of every believer on the planet during this time—except the Jewish remnant that is being supernaturally nurtured and protected in the wilderness.  This reminds me of a precious verse in Isaiah.

Isaiah 57:1–2 “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace….”

At this point, John seems to be getting an explanation of what is going to happen as the angels pour out the last plagues on planet earth.  The judgment will be so great that it will seem like the men of earth are being pressed in a great winepress.  He sees one like unto the Son of man, Jesus, sitting on the cloud and wearing the crown of a victor; He has won the right to judge.  He is holding in His hand a sharp sickle.

Another angel comes out of the heavenly temple and tells Jesus that the time has come for Him to put His sickle to use and reap the harvest of the earth.  It is obvious to me that the angel is serving as a messenger from God the Father.  Jesus readily complies since he is the Father’s chosen instrument of judgment.

John 5:22 “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son….”
John 5:26-27 “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.”

I think it is significant that there is a time that has been predetermined as right for this judgment.  It seems that sin has reached its fullness worldwide.  I think that God’s statement regarding the withholding of judgment from the Amorites establishes the precedent for revealing God’s timing for exacting judgment.

Genesis 15:13–16 “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”

Next John watches as the angels begin to complete the process authorized by the thrust of the sickle from Jesus.  One angel emerges from the temple carrying a sharp sickle and another angel invested with power over fire comes forth from the altar.  The angel from the altar commands the angel with the sickle to reap the earth and cast the harvest into the great winepress of God.  This is obviously a picture of judgment that I think summarizes the wrath of God being poured out on the wicked and culminating in the last seven judgments.  I think this section parallels the teaching of Jesus recorded in Matthew 13.

Matthew 13:36–43 & 49-50 “Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear….So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The passage in Matthew also seems to provide a clue as to why the angel in charge of fire is give direction to the angel with the sickle—he is likely in charge of the fires of hell.

The winepress is identified as being located without the city (of Jerusalem, I believe).  I think this verse is making reference to the last great battle at Armaggedon in the Valley of Megiddo and appears to include the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the Valley of Decision, if the verses in Joel apply here.
Joel 3:12-14 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.  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.

Another section of verses that seems to be related to this verse is found in Isaiah:
Is. 63:1-4 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.  Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?  I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.  For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.

The statement regarding the amount of blood indicates the intensity of the battle that will take place.  I have a hard time not accepting that the amount of bloodshed stated is not an actual figure since the figure is specific. 

Joseph Seiss gives a possible explanation:  “The probabilities are…that a line of encamped forces shall extend from Bozrah, on the southeast, to Megiddo, on the northwest.  And, singularly enough, this would measure exactly 1600 stadia (furlongs), the distance named in the text as that over which the blood from this great winepress of Jehovah’s anger flows.” 

This meshes with the verses from Isaiah that picture Jesus headed to Jerusalem from Bozrah in garments drenched in blood.  Bozrah is a reference to Petra, a place that many believe scripture indicates will be that special place in the wilderness in which God will protect the Jewish remnant.

(to be continued…)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

THE EMERGENCE OF THE SECOND BEAST/THE FALSE PROPHET, AND THE VISION OF THE 144,000 WITNESSES IN HEAVEN (Post #17)


As with all the post in this series, it builds directly on the last post.  I recommend that you begin at the beginning for proper understanding of the thoughts that follow.

John’s attention is now directed to the emergence of a second beast arising out of the earth.  This beast has two horns like a lamb but speaks with the mouth of a dragon.  Again, notice Satan’s continued agenda to mirror the Christ.  Jesus is known as the Lamb of God, and horns represent power and authority.  It would seem that this “beast” will emerge as a powerful spiritual leader, but his words will prove him to be in league with the dragon, Satan.  In action he will actually mirror the work of the Holy Spirit in that this man will be empowered to perform great wonders with the purpose of getting people to worship the Antichrist.  One of the wonders he is able to do—call down fire from heaven.  This will show that he is as powerful as Elijah and Moses (who had just been killed).  John reveals that his deception will be successful.

Revelation 13:14 “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.”

John then tells us that this false prophet will create some type of image of the beast that will be able to speak—not at all surprising with today’s technology.  He will then put to death those that refuse to worship this image.  He will also implement a system of buying and selling that requires one to have a mark in his forehead or right hand that identifies him/her as a follower of the beast in order to make transactions.  That mark will be either the name of the beast or the number of his name—666, the number of man.  Again, with today’s technology that is quite feasible. 

It is always amazing to me as I see how graciously God so carefully reveals future events so as to testify to the truth of His word and to encourage people to repent and turn to Him in faith and salvation.  I’ll never understand why people choose to ignore such revelation to their own peril when once they are made aware of the past accuracy of the biblical record.  Obviously, these words of warning from John are specifically directed to those who will be living during that terrible time.

Chapter 14 opens with a vision before John of the 144,000 standing on Mt. Sion with Jesus.  As explained in Post #15, I believe these are the witnesses that were identified and sealed in their foreheads in chapter seven to protect them so that they could testify of God’s truth during the first part of the tribulation.  Once Satan takes control in the person of the Antichrist, he is given the power to “overcome the saints.”

Revelation 13:7 “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them….”

These men have completed their ministry and died as martyrs and are now reaping their eternal reward. In light of the context and a verse in Hebrews, I believe these witnesses are on Mt. Sion in heaven in this vision.  God has accepted them as the first fruits of the harvest of the redeemed remnant of Israel that will enter the Messiah’s Kingdom.  They will not have to endure the hardships of the “great” tribulation, the last 3.5 years before Jesus returns as King of kings.

Hebrews 12:22 “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels….”

Point is made that these men are singing a special worship song that only they can learn.  These men are identified as celibate and totally committed to following the Lamb. 

As always, God provides a witness to the message of salvation.  The 144,000 witnesses and the two prophets are no longer on the scene, so God sends an angel to fly throughout the heavens urging the people on earth to worship the one true God, Creator of heaven and earth.

Revelation 14:6–7 “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.”

Questions arise because of the message preached by the angel.  It’s not Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”  The word “everlasting” (perpetual, eternal) indicates to me that the gospel/good news has always been essentially the same.  The full revelation of that gospel has come in increments.  In every “increment” the required response of the individual is faith in God for salvation—even when how He will do that was not fully known or understood.  I am at peace in the knowledge that God is righteous and is the One Who determines whether one has responded in faith to His revelation or not.

The angel that declares the gospel is followed by another angel that announces the destruction of the city of Babylon—the birthplace of false religion.  This will be discussed in more detail when we reach chapters 17-18; but, yes, I believe it will be the rebuilt city of Babylon in the land today known as Iraq.

Yet a third angel follows loudly warning that anyone that worships the beast or his image and receives his mark in hand or forehead will suffer the wrath of God and be unrelentingly tormented by fire and brimstone forever—time without end.  This announcement is also to serve as encouragement to the saints to persevere in their faith and obedience to God.  I believe that everyone that is saved at any time past, present or future is saved by faith.  We in the church today are privileged to be sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.  In Old Testament times that was not true; David feared having the Spirit of God taken from him. 

Psalms 51:10–11 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.”

Ephesians 1:13–14 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

It makes sense to me that this 70th week of Daniel is an extension of Old Testament times as were the first 69 weeks.  I tend to think (and I most certainly could be wrong) that the seal of the Spirit is unique to the church age.  Scripture is clear in declaring that the One that indwells the believer today is greater than he that is “the god of this world.”

1 John 4:2–4 “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.  Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

2 Corinthians 4:3–4 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 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.”

It is for this reason that I think John is inspired to add these words of encouragement for people of faith to hold on to their faith just as he did when it was revealed that the Antichrist would be allowed to overcome the saints.  The troubles of that time will be so bad that one would be tempted to give up and/or question God’s word.  God is so gracious; He supernaturally provides for the gospel to be declared throughout the world with a warning of the dire consequences of worshipping the Antichrist and with extra encouragement for people of faith to hang on and persevere to the end—because there will be an end and the reward is great!

(to be continued…)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

THE DRAGON AND THE BEAST KNOWN AS ANTICHRIST (Post #16)

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It will be helpful to have read Revelation 13 and Daniel 2 & 7-8 in connection with this post.  Verse-by-verse commentary on Daniel and Revelation can be found on my website.  I am trying to be clear and succinct in presenting the information in this blog series.

If you have been following along with the previous posts in this series, it will make sense to see the Antichrist being shown as a beast at this point in John’s narrative.  It is at the mid-point of the tribulation that he reveals his true colors.  Remember, he arose on the world stage as a man championing peace. 

John now sees a great beast arising from the sea that has seven heads and ten horns wearing ten crowns; the heads are described as displaying blasphemous names.  The beast is described as looking like a leopard with the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion.  John reveals that this beast is empowered with the authority of the dragon—identified in the previous post as Satan.

This description of the beast is directly connected to Daniel’s vision (described in Daniel 7).

Daniel 7:7–8 “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.”

I think it is significant to note that the first three beasts in Daniel’s vision were of a leopard with four wings and four heads, a bear and a lion with eagle’s wings.  These beasts are identified as representing four kings.  The first three are interpreted in chapters 2&8 of Daniel as Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Cyrus of Medo-Persia and Alexander the Great of Greece.  The fourth kingdom is a reference to Rome, but the fourth king is in reference to the Antichrist, the most powerful ruler to emerge from that empire (depicted by the legs and feet of the image from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2). 

I know—the Roman Empire fell long ago.  That is true, but scripture declares that there will be a confederacy of ten kings or rulers (pictured by the ten toes of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream) that will once again come to power from the remains of that fallen empire that will unite under the leadership of the Antichrist to control the world.  Daniel seems to indicate that the Antichrist, “another little horn,” will begin to assume more control by usurping three of these kings and taking control of the areas they governed.

I believe that the Antichrist is indwelt by Satan at the time he gains worldwide authority and establishes his throne in the temple at the midpoint of the tribulation.  Note that the beast has seven heads.  I believe these heads represent the seven major kings/kingdoms that have had direct impact on the nation of Israel—Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome and the final tenfold confederacy of the Antichrist.  The fact that they are pictured as heads on the beast controlled by the dragon affirm that they were under Satan’s influence as well.

Why were other great kings/kingdoms of the world (e.g., the Ottomans or Mongols) not included in Daniel’s/John’s visions?  Because God is using the scripture to tell His-story as reflected through His dealings with the nation of Israel.  After 70 AD that nation no longer existed.  After it once again becomes an active nation on the world scene (as of 1948), we can look for the last world kingdom/empire and its interaction with Israel to be used by God to fulfill scripture and fulfill the promises of God to Abraham.

I think it is significant that we are told at this point that one of the heads appeared to have suffered a deadly wound, but was healed.  According to verse 12 this seems to reference an apparent resurrection of the first beast, the Antichrist, from the dead.

Revelation 13:12 “It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence; and it makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, the one whose fatal wound had been healed.”

It is probably this apparent miracle that will convince the world as a whole to invest him with the authority of leading a “new world order.”  John tells us that the world will worship the dragon (Satan) and the beast (Antichrist) since he appears to be invincible.  John again specifically declares that this beast will be allowed his authority for 42 months, or 3.5 years.  Significant point—his time of authority is limited by God in accordance with the fulfillment of His plan.

It seems obvious to me that the Antichrist is trying to mirror Christ in every way possible.  He credits his authority as “god” to Satan in the same way that Jesus accredited His authority to His Father in heaven.  He works lying wonders to deceive in contrast to the true miracles Jesus worked to inspire faith.  He stages an apparent resurrection from the dead in light of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

As Satan always does, he blasphemes God and everything connected to Him.  He is even allowed to assert his authority over the saints, those who have placed their faith in the Son of God during the tribulation.  Sad note, John tells us that those who choose to worship the beast face eternal damnation because their names are not included in the Lamb’s book of life—that Lamb, Jesus the Son of God, whose death and resurrection for our sin was determined before creation.  He declares himself to be “god” just as Jesus declared Himself to be God.  The HUGE difference—Satan is a liar with no real authority and Jesus is righteous and true in all He represented Himself to be.

John now records a warning for those who are reading this scripture during the tribulation to pay careful attention to what he is about to read.  Many saints will suffer captivity and death during this time.  They are to be prepared for this and persevere in their faith; in the end, they will emerge as overcomers.

1 John 5:4 “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

Revelation 2:11 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”

Revelation 21:7 “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”

(to be continued…)