Ride, Harlot, Ride Upon Your Mystery Beast (Revelation 17:1-18)

Where is Sin City?

You probably thought of Las Vegas. After all, “What stays in Vegas” isn’t referring to content that is family-oriented.

I was surprised to learn that besides Vegas, nine US cities have earned the designation. No less than thirty-four cities in over thirty countries are dubbed Sin City.
If we limit ourselves to the Bible, probably the overwhelmingly popular choice would be the sinister sister cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The city that is the “mother of harlots and of the abominations on the Earth,” is Babylon.

If that comes as a surprise, you are in good company. It surprised the apostle John as well. The angel talking with John says, “I will tell you the mystery” (v7). In the Bible, a “mystery” is always the revealing of something previously unknown.

Sin City Babylon is called out for “committing fornication,” mentioned nine times in the Revelation in chapters fourteen through nineteen. Prostitution and human trafficking will be pervasive in Babylon. Her fornication is also spiritual, leading mankind to worship idols and blaspheme God.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 The Current Ruler Of This World Solicits You To Commit Fornication, and #2 The Coming Ruler Of This World Enables You To Flee Fornication.

#1 – The Current Ruler Of This World Solicits You To Commit Fornication (v1-6)

Chapters seventeen and eighteen of the Revelation require a synopsis before we go verse-by-verse.

For one thing, we don’t realize that the angel is describing “Babylon” until verse five.

For another thing, these two chapters are not in chronological order:

Chapter sixteen ended with the pouring out of the seventh and final bowl of the Wrath of God upon those who dwell on Earth. A voice from Heaven proclaimed, “It is done!” The next thing to happen chronologically is the Second Coming of Jesus in chapter nineteen.

Chapters seventeen and eighteen are an interlude to fill you in on the influence of Babylon before it is destroyed.

There are two Babylons in these chapters:

Chapter seventeen reveals Babylon in its mystery form as a global religious system.

Chapter eighteen describes Babylon in its municipal form as a global political and commercial system embodied in a city, the literal city of Babylon on the River Euphrates.

The mystery Babylon religious system has its origins in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Genesis. Led by Nimrod, nonbelievers began construction at Babel of what archeologists call a ziggurat. It is a tower of successive stories erected to worship heavenly bodies.

The Tower of Babel wasn’t an attempt to build a stairway to Heaven, but a Temple to worship the heavens.

One commentator remarked, “Babylon was the first international, political and religious ecumenical movement in the history of man, and one which has never ceased to exist in one form or another.”

Wall Street, Madison Avenue, and Hollywood are real places. Their names, however, are used as synonyms for Finance, Advertising, and Entertainment, respectively. Religious Babylon describes all false religions and idolatry throughout history.

One more thing:

The Beast (i.e., the antichrist) will make use of Religious Babylon in his rise to power but destroy it mid-Tribulation when he demands the world worship him. We will see Religious Babylon destroyed in chapter seventeen.

The city of Babylon will exist until the great earthquake we read about in chapter sixteen levels all the world’s cities just before the Second Coming of Jesus. We will see its destruction in chapter eighteen.

Rev 17:1  Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,
Rev 17:2  with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”

God considers the nation of Israel His wife. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote concerning Israel, “For your Maker is your husband, The LORD of hosts is His name” (54:5).

The angel depicts Religious Babylon as a harlot. Consorting with her is like infidelity in a marriage.

The harlot representing Babylon “sits on many waters.” We take words literally unless they are otherwise defined. In this case, “waters” is symbolic because in verse fifteen you read, “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.”

In the New Testament, the word translated “fornication” comes from the Greek word porneia. It includes any sexual activity outside of biblical marriage.

Biblical marriage is a covenant of companionship between one biological male and one biological female in a monogamous heterosexual union to remain in place as long as they live.

Rev 17:3  So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

The “Scarlet Beast” with “horns” is not the Beast who is the antichrist. The Scarlet Beast illustrates the world government that the antichrist will initially be a part of and eventually control.

From here on, I will attempt to call the antichrist the Beast while calling the government the Scarlet Beast. The government’s “seven heads and ten horns” are revealed a little later in the chapter.

Rev 17:4  The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.

“Scarlet” dominates the image. We can’t help but associate it with sin. “Though your sins be as scarlet,” we’re told in Isaiah 1:18.

Babylon is enticing. There she sits, appealing to your lusts, ready to have a drink with you. But in her cup is a spiritually filthy roofie.

In the New Testament Book of James, he writes, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (1:14). “Drawn away” and “enticed” derive from fishing.

What is on the end of a fishing line? A lure. We’re attracted; we nibble; eventually, we will become hooked.

Rev 17:5  And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

Ah. We’ve been talking about “Babylon.” It is a major subject in the Bible.

The Bible reveals the “mystery” that all idolatry and false religions have their origins in ancient Babylon, at the Tower of Babel. It was there that mankind first organized a system of worship in rebellion against God. Her illegitimate offspring are “abominations” that can only rob, steal, and kill, leading a person to perish eternally.

There is Biblical Christianity and there is Babylon, and that is all.

Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, Islam, Hinduism, Existentialism, Humanism, and the rest are Babylon.

Rev 17:6  I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.

The imagery puts the world’s nonChristian religions, godless political systems, philosophies, and psychologies in proper perspective. Following any of them is likened to giving yourself over to bloodthirsty cannibals.

Fornication is a word you don’t hear much. It sounds like one of those King James Version words that needed to be updated.

In polite society we say, for example, that a couple had “premarital sex.” We say they “slept together.”

“Premarital sex” makes it sound OK because the couple is planning on getting married. It comes across as an assignment during “premarital” counseling.

“Slept together” removes any hint of impropriety.

We need to return to calling such sexual activity outside of marriage “fornication.” Those who engage in it, “fornicators.”

#2 – The Coming Ruler Of This World Enables You To Flee Fornication (v7-18)

I don’t mean to sound sensational, but an argument can be made that we are living in the most fornicatious time in history, thanks to the World Wide Web. Factor in the Bible’s prediction that in the last days there will be a great falling away from the faith and you see the dangers we confront.

Rev 17:7  But the angel said to me, “Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.

I don’t think the angel is being condescending. He knows that John cannot understand what the vision means until he tells the mystery to him.

The question, “Why did you marvel?” is an encouragement that God will show us what we need to see if we will ask Him and wait upon Him.

Rev 17:8  The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition…

The Revelation has already introduced the Beast as a world leader who “was, and is not.” He will be assassinated, receiving a fatal head wound, but he miraculously returns to life.

He “will ascend out of the bottomless pit.” Instead of going to Hades when he dies, like every other nonbeliever, God incarcerates the Beast briefly in the Abyss. It is a prison for evil supernatural creatures.

No human being can exist in the Abyss with a normal human body; he will therefore be, in some sense, supernatural.

It reads like the origin story of a supervillain in the comics. Flint Marko comes into contact with sand that had been irradiated by an experimental reactor. His body and the radioactive sand bond, changing Marko’s molecular structure into sand. Sandman.

He will “go to perdition.” The Beast and his assistant, called the false prophet, will be the first inhabitants of Hell.

Rev 17:8  … And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

It is easy to see how nonbelievers will “marvel” at the Beast’s return from the dead with supernatural powers. Add to that, Satan is the power behind him, and he has the false prophet to boot.

We’ve previously encountered “the Book of Life”:

Since Jesus is the “Savior of all men” (First Timothy 4:10), we say that the names of everyone conceived are in the Book of Life.

Since Jesus is the “Savior of all men, especially of those who believe” (First Timothy 4:10), we say the names of everyone who dies in unbelief is removed from the Book of Life.

Rev 17:9  “Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.
Rev 17:10  There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time.

One scholar offers this simple explanation:

The seven heads and mountains are seven successive empires, with the seven kings of verse ten as heads and personifications of those empires. This view agrees with a common metaphorical use of “mountain” or “hill” in the Bible. [For example, King David in Psalm 30:7 referred to his kingdom as “my mountain”]. This is sensible because the next phrase says the heads are also seven kings (verse ten).

The “seven kings” represent seven Gentile kingdoms: (1)Egypt, (2)Assyria, (3)Babylon, (4)Medo-Persia, (5)Greece, (6)Rome, and (7)the future global kingdom of the Beast.

John wrote late in the first century AD. The first five empires, (1)Egypt, (2)Assyria, (3)Babylon, (4)Medo-Persia, and (5)Greece, had “fallen.” They were in the past.

John was living in the sixth kingdom, Rome, and that is what is meant by “one [kingdom] is.”

The one who “has not yet come” is the Beast ruling over a revived Rome. It was in the future to John. “And when he comes, he must continue a short time,” which we know to be only the last three and one-half years of the Great Tribulation.

I should mention that many commentators insist the “seven mountains” can only mean Rome, known as “the city built on seven hills.” They say “Babylon” is code for Rome.

If you look it up, many cities claim to be “built on seven hills,” including no less than thirty in the US.
“Babylon” was not used as code for Rome until much later. The apostle Peter does say, in one of his letters, that he was writing from Babylon. We take it that he was in Babylon.

Rev 17:11  The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.

Again I’ll quote a reliable scholar:

As one of the seven, the Beast is a kingdom, but as an eighth, he is the king of that kingdom who sustains the wound and ascends from the Abyss after his wound. When this occurs, he is king over an eighth kingdom because his reign following his ascent from the Abyss will be far more dynamic and dominant than before. This is the sense in which he is one of the seven, but also an eighth.

The angel talking with John wants us to know the Beast’s destiny. He is “going to perdition,” eternal conscious punishment in the Lake of Fire.

Rev 17:12  “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.

The Beast will establish ten kings over ten regions of the world. It is the final form of the global government. It is mankind returning to Babylon, you could say.

“One hour” isn’t literal; it means a short time, which we know to be three and one half years.

Wait just a minute! Don’t I stress we are to take things literally? Sure, but that doesn’t mean we are like Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy and cannot recognize common metaphors and figures of speech.

Rev 17:13  These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.

Ten nations, under godlessness, with slavery and injustice for all.

Rev 17:14  These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

The world’s armies will be gathered together by God in the Valley of Megiddo, in the Middle East, to what we like to call the Battle of Armageddon. When the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, descends, He wins. Easily.

Humans are the only creatures that are “called, chosen, and faithful.”

Human beings are born dead in trespasses and sins. No one comes to God unless they are “called.” The Good News is that Jesus, on the Cross, said that He would draw “all men” to Himself.

God, before the foundation of the world, chose to save believers through Christ and predestined them to Heaven. This grace is received through faith as God the Holy Spirit frees a person’s will that they might believe.

Saved people remain “faithful,” but I like to emphasize that Jesus is faithful and can be counted upon to complete the work of salvation He begins in us.

“Those who are with Him” at His Second Coming is us, the resurrected and raptured church.

Rev 17:15  Then he said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.

The harlot will hold sway over the population of Earth for the first half of the Great Tribulation. It would seem to embrace all faiths and beliefs, not one single religion. It will be the tolerance that all roads lead to God. Except that biblical Christianity will not be tolerated.

Rev 17:16  And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire.

The ten-nation confederacy will usurp the harlot. The Beast will declare himself ‘god,’ demanding to be worshipped.

The disturbing imagery of the harlot being hated, desolated, stripped of clothing, then BBQ’d and eaten should remind us that the hearts of men need transforming in a relationship with God. All of the world’s religions, philosophies, politics, and psychologies fall short. Far short.

Rev 17:17  For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.

One writer said, “A divine overruling controls the fate of the world’s political powers, so that at times Satan is an instrument in serving a providential purpose.”

God never causes evil. Neither does He violate our free will. Within His self-imposed limits, however, He sees to it history reaches the end He has written.

My favorite (and therefore overused) example is the story of Esther. She had free will to choose. If she would have refused to be used by God to save the Jews, God would have raised up help from another source.

Rev 17:18  And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.”

Verse seventeen is our segue from Mystery Babylon to Municipal Babylon of the future.

Listen to wisdom from the apostle Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth:

1Co 6:9  Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
1Co 6:10  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

The “unrighteous” are nonbelievers, people who have not been declared righteous by believing in Jesus.
“Fornicators” are called out, along with a list of other filthy behaviors.

People post polls on social media. How many states have you visited? If you were a dog, which dog would you be? You’re stuck in an 80s movie; which one would it be?

We could create a poll out of First Corinthians 6:9-10: “How many of these things have you done?”

1Co 6:11  And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God

“Such were some of us.” When you got saved, you were transformed. The things listed, and many others, were overcome by your becoming a new creature in Jesus Christ.

Take the poll. Are you involved in any of these things? Jesus saved you and He set you free. He can free you again.

And again, and again, and again…

Blah, Blah, Blasphemer, Have You Any Shame? (Revelation 16:1-21)

The world population is closing in on 7.9b.

Despite that hefty number, when trying to emphasize a point, we often claim, “There are only two kinds of people in the world.”

A Portuguese artist created the blog 2 Kinds of People. It is a series of paired illustrations that identify two approaches to a behavior.

Think of two Hershey’s plain candy bars, unwrapped, lying side-by-side:

One of them has a bite mark in the upper right corner.

The other is broken evenly along the indented lines in the upper right corner.

Thus there are only two kinds of people – those who bite the bar and those who break the bar.

Another paired illustration shows two iPhone screens. One has multiple apps with notifications, while the other is free from any pending notifications. Thus there are only two kinds of people – those with notifications cluttering their screen and those with an uncluttered screen.

Indulge me for one more. Do you add milk to cereal or cereal to milk?

There are only two kinds of people in chapter sixteen of the Revelation. Those whom God has blessed, and those who blaspheme God.

In verse fifteen, the Lord speaks, saying, “Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments…”

In verses nine, eleven, and twenty-one, we are told men “blaspheme” the name of God.

God has blessed those of you who are in Christ with the gift of salvation received by faith. Those of you unsaved are blaspheming God. We will discuss what that means.

One more thing. Jesus interjects in verse fifteen, saying, “Behold, I am coming as a thief.”

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Since You Are Blessed By God, Jesus Doesn’t Come Upon You As A Thief, but #2 If You Are A Blasphemer, Jesus Does Come Upon You As A Thief.

#1 – Since You Are Blessed By God, Jesus Doesn’t Come Upon You As A Thief (v1-16)

During their military operations in Lebanon in 1982 and 1996, warnings were given by Israel to the civilian population of southern Lebanon before attacks through the distribution of leaflets and via radio and loudspeakers, as well as by telephone calls.

The measures taken by Israel to warn the civilian population during the operation have been described by some as “probably the most extensive, and most specific, warnings of offensive operations over such a short period in the history of warfare.”

Jesus gives an advance warning to those who dwell on Earth, saying in verse fifteen, “I am coming as a thief.”

Rev 16:1  Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”

You know by now that Jesus took from His Father a scroll having seven seals. Beginning in chapter six, the Lord opened the seals in succession:

When Jesus opened the seventh seal, seven angels were given seven trumpets to blow in succession.
When the seventh trumpet was blown, seven angels were given seven bowls to pour out upon Earth in succession.

We have come to the bowls, late in the seven-year Great Tribulation and on the verge of Jesus’ Second Coming.

The “Wrath of God” is His divine response, in His perfect holiness, to mankind’s disobedience and sin. You could say that from cover to cover the Bible is a display of the Wrath of God, from compassion to condemnation.

The plagues in the following verses are awful. I need not describe them in detail. They speak for themselves. What I will say is that they are literal.

I’ve mentioned before in our studies that it has become popular among Christians to reject the futurist interpretation of this book:

Futurists – that’s us – believe the Revelation is primarily about future events that have not yet occurred but will occur.
The non-futurists claim that the Revelation was mostly fulfilled in the first century with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans.

The plagues in this chapter are reminiscent of the plagues that were meted out upon Egypt before Israel’s Exodus. Question: Were the ten plagues against Egypt literal? Yes, and so will be the plagues we read about today. Nothing like them in their scope and severity has happened anytime in human history.

Rev 16:2  So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.

The “Beast” is the world leader we call the antichrist. He has a considerable number of names in the Bible.
Chapter thirteen described his “image” in a way that reminds us of Artificial Intelligence.
His “mark” is something in or on your hand or forehead by which you to participate in contactless, cashless transactions.

At the very middle of the Great Tribulation, the Beast will enter the re-erected Jewish Temple and desecrate it by demanding to be worshipped.

Angels warn those who inhabit Earth to refuse to worship him or be lost for all eternity. The majority of mankind ignores God’s compassion and worships the Beast.

Rev 16:3  Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.

This is global in its scope. All bodies of water that are “seas” are affected.

The “blood” of a “dead man” pools, then separates. It leaves dark red gunk at the lowest point and a light-colored fluid above that. Add to that the putrefaction of the death of “every living creature in the sea.”

Rev 16:4  Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.

I feel for you folks in Lemoore, struggling in the aftermath of the incident that has affected your water supply. In the final months of the Great Tribulation, there will be no source of potable water on the planet.

Rev 16:5  And I heard the angel of the waters saying: “You are righteous, O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, Because You have judged these things.
Rev 16:6  For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, And You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.”

Angels are “an eye for an eye” group. Those who “shed the blood of saints and prophets” having only “blood” to drink seems about right to them.

We are not to think eye-for-an-eye in the dispensation of the Church Age. The first Christian martyr was Stephen. We read in the Book of Acts, “And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (7:59-60).

We are to expect mistreatment and respond to it with compassion for the spiritual blindness of those who are perishing.

Our Lord “is,” “was,” and “is to be.” It is a way of proclaiming God is eternal in words we can sort of understand. It speaks to us, too, of all things working together for the good of the saints. From eternity past through eternity future, God works on our behalf.

He is “righteous” to judge. It is His right to judge, but additionally, He judges in such a way that He can save sinners and remain righteous. Listen to this passage from the New Testament Book of Romans:

Rom 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Rom 3:24  being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Rom 3:25  whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,
Rom 3:26  to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

That is a mouthful. Simply put, we are all sinners, but God can receive us just-as-if-we’d never sinned because the death of Jesus on the Cross satisfied the penalty mankind deserves. God remains “just,” or righteous, while justifying believing sinners.

Before moving on, notice that there is an “angel of the waters.” Revelation 7:1 has four angels in charge of the winds, and in 9:11, an angel has authority over the Abyss. In 14:18, there is an angel with power over fire.

If we wanted to develop a devotional thought, we could talk about how we, too, as believers in Christ have our specific assignments:

Some are general, e.g., saint, husband, wife, son, daughter, employer, and employee.

Some are specific, e.g., our gifting from God the Holy Spirit, our calling in serving the Lord, our place as a living stone in His Temple on Earth, and as a member of His body on Earth.

You are blessed with glorious purpose as a child of God.

Rev 16:7  And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”

We cannot overemphasize that God is “true and righteous” in His “judgments.” There is in Him no unrighteousness. He is perfect in all His ways. Trust these things when you cannot fathom the depths of what He is doing, or allowing, in your life or the world.

God is Father. Earthly fathers know how to give good gifts to their kids. How much more does your Heavenly Father work all things together for good.

Rev 16:8  Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire.
Rev 16:9  And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.
Rev 16:10  Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.
Rev 16:11  They blasphemed the God of Heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.

I read these verses as a unit because they introduce us to blasphemy. The word connotes cursing or foul language, but that is not its meaning here. A good definition is defiant irreverence.

Blasphemy is expressed by refusing to “repent of [your] deeds,” and by not repenting to “give Him glory.”

Whatever else they might say or do to express blasphemy, it is their unbelief that blasphemes God.

There is one, and only one, unpardonable sin. It isn’t murder or suicide, or adultery, or coveting. It is unbelief in Jesus. Die rejecting Jesus in defiant irreverence, and you blaspheme, committing the unpardonable sin.

Rev 16:12  Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.

By an act of God, the Euphrates River is dried up. This makes easy the travel of the massive army of the “kings from the east” to the land of Israel to participate in the conflict.

Is this referring to China? It’s interesting to note that soon India will be the world’s most populous nation. “Kings from the east” is plural. It is a last days coalition.

Rev 16:13  And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
Rev 16:14  For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

The apostle John told us a few chapters earlier that Satan is “the dragon.”
The Beast has an assistant whom we met previously, here called “the false prophet.” Together we could call these three the unholy trinity.

Those who inhabit Earth won’t see Satan or “unclean spirits” that resemble “frogs.” John is privileged to see into their realm. It is by the agency of these supernatural creatures that the armies of the world gather “to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Although they seem to come to oppose the Beast, these armies will forget their conflicts to oppose the coming of Jesus Christ in power and glory from Heaven.

Rev 16:15  “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus said, “But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into” (24:43). The “master of the house” knew a thief was coming, just not “what part of the night the thief was coming.”

Jesus forewarns everyone that He is “coming as a thief.”

The entire seven-year Great Tribulation is a warning that Jesus is coming. He announces shock & awe in advance.

The blessed believe Him and look forward to His return.
Nonbelievers blaspheme Him, believing the dragon, the Beast, the false prophet, and the world’s combined military might can repel the thief.

“Garments” represent your salvation in the Bible. In your natural state, God sees you dressed in what the Bible calls “filthy rags.” You are unfit for Heaven. When you believe God and are saved, Jesus removes your filthy garments, and you receive a garment of salvation, illustrated as a pure white robe of righteousness.

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah said, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness…” (61:10).

You are “blessed” by God with the garment of salvation, clothed and ready.

Rev 16:16  And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.

This battle will take place in the Valley of Megiddo, in Hebrew called Armageddon. One commentator said, “This is the day of the Lord’s coming to do battle with the Beast, the climax of human history when God assumes His great power and begins to reign (11:17). It is “the great and terrible day of the LORD” (Joel 2:31).

The Lord isn’t saying it is up to you to remain saved. He is describing two kinds of people.

Are you blessed and robed or are you a naked blasphemer?

#2 – If You Are A Blasphemer, Jesus Does Come Upon You As A Thief (v16-21)

Emergency information networks send out texts or voice messages to warn a population to evacuate in the face of imminent disasters like fires or floods. Some people like to roll the dice, staying put to guard their property. It is materialism at its worst.

Despite centuries of advance warning, and seven years of judgments and invitations, blasphemers hold their ground against God during the Great Tribulation.

Rev 16:17  Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of Heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”

To state the obvious, “air” is what we breathe. Not being told precisely how this plague affects the air we breathe makes it more terrifying.

Ginomai. It is one word translated by three English words in verse seventeen, “It is done!” It isn’t the last word of the book or even the chapter. It is, however, a fitting last word for the pouring out of the seventh and final bowl. A critical movement in God’s plan, the Great Tribulation, is done.

Rev 16:18  And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.

The deadliest, most destructive earthquake ever recorded hasn’t happened.

The worst localized earthquake mankind has experienced will be insignificant compared to this global shaking.

Footnote: It is accompanied by earthquake weather – “noises and thunderings and lightnings.”

Rev 16:19  Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.

The “great city” is Jerusalem. It will be split into thirds.
The “cities of the [Gentile] nations” all around the world will fall into rubble.
“Babylon” will be the subject of a retrospective in the following two chapters. It is Babylon, not New York or Rome or Washington D.C., or any other city.

Rev 16:20  Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

These words describe incredible topographical changes. It will be a different version of the flat earth.

Rev 16:21  And great hail from Heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the record for the largest hailstone in the US belongs to an 8-inch wonder that fell near Vivian, South Dakota, in 2010. It was the size of a volleyball and weighed just under two pounds.

The Tribulation hailstones will average twenty-nine inches and weigh one-hundred thirty pounds.

A.W. Tozer said, “When God is finally ready to refine and restore the earth, everyone in Heaven and on Earth and in Hell will know that no human laboratory could compound the fire that will be poured out on the earth. God has promised that He will not hide His wrath forever. He is prepared to speak in supernatural manifestations in that coming Day of The Lord!”

Blessed or blasphemer… Believer or nonbeliever… Sheep or goat… Wheat or tare… Robed in white or naked… Heaven or Hell.

Unlike a Hershey bar, your iPhone, or cereal, what kind of person you are matters.

Singing’ Of Your Reign, What A Glorious Savior, You’re Coming Again (Revelation 15:1-8)

Wrath of Man. I Am Wrath.

The titles of those feature films signal what is coming. Someone was wronged and seeks revenge. They will take matters into their own hands – violent, vengeful hands that viciously murder those who have wronged them.

We shouldn’t, but we cheer them on. Who doesn’t like a righteous vigilante?

The Wrath of God.

Our popular use of the word “wrath” can leave us thinking God is a cosmic Punisher seeking revenge. He is not. He is compassionate, seeking repentance.

It is an essential doctrine in both Testaments. We are told, “For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18).

The phrase “the wrath of God” appears several times in chapters fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen. In the first verse of chapter sixteen we read “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”

Let’s talk about the Wrath of God. I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 God Shows You His Righteousness By Delaying Wrath, and #2 God Shows You His Righteousness By Displaying Wrath.

#1 – God Shows You Righteousness By Delaying Wrath (v1-4)

Here is a simplified but accurate working definition of what we mean by the Wrath of God:

The Wrath of God is His divine response to human sin and disobedience.

The very first time God responded to human sin and disobedience was the afternoon of Adam and Eve’s eating of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden.

Whatever else we discover about the Wrath of God must be governed by God’s first display of wrath.

God warned our original parents that if they disobeyed Him, the consequences would be death. As you read past Genesis, you discover other consequences:

• All Adam and Eve’s descendants are born with imputed sin, spiritually dead in trespasses and sin.
• All are born with a sin nature.
• Creation was ruined and requires restoration.

What was God’s divine response?

Instead of killing them, the Lord sacrificed animals in their stead to temporarily cover their sin and shame. He promised to come to Earth as a human to offer Himself as the permanent, once-for-all sacrifice for sin. His only ask is that we believe Him.

God delayed His wrath, at least to a certain extent:

• He did curse the ground and tell Adam his labor would be difficult.
• He did tell Eve that her childbirth would be painful and that she would find within herself the desire to overthrow her husband’s authority.
• God did banish them from the Garden of Eden.

He did not, however, kill them. They would die, but not right away.

The Bible tells the story of God’s delay from the Garden of Eden, to the Cross upon which He died, through the Great Tribulation and the Millennial Kingdom, into eternity.

Because God delayed His wrath, we are here today – either saved or lost.

Rev 15:1  Then I saw another sign in Heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.

Previously in the Revelation:

• Jesus opened seven seals on a scroll He was uniquely worthy to receive and execute.
• The seventh seal revealed seven angels with seven trumpets to blow.
• The seventh trumpet revealed seven angels with seven bowls to pour out.

The seals and trumpets take us from the beginning of the seven-year Great Tribulation, past mid-way, into the last half of it. The bowls are poured out rapidly during the months before Jesus returns.

They are “last… for in them the wrath of God is complete.” That is to say the centuries of delay will be over. This is it – the completion of God’s plan.

Has it taken a long time? Only by our standard of measuring time. Seven thousand years are like a single day to the Lord.

Rev 15:2  And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.

There are similarities between this chapter and the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt:

The “sea of glass” in Heaven was represented in the Tabernacle and Temple on Earth by a bronze washbasin called both the Laver of Bronze and the Sea of Bronze.
In verse three, they sing “the Song of Moses,” commemorating Israel’s deliverance. The Great Tribulation is the Day of Jacob’s Trouble when God will deliver Jews to safety and salvation.

The seven angels in Heaven with the bowls are dressed similar to an Old Testament High Priest on the Day of Atonement.

In the Exodus, God delivered the Jews from Pharaoh’s fury. They crossed over the Red Sea on solid, dry ground.

In the future Great Tribulation, God delivers Jews from Satan’s fury. We read earlier in the Revelation that the devil sends a flood to drown Jews fleeing into the wilderness. God has the Earth swallow the waters. Jews will get to safety on solid, dry ground.

“Those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name” are martyrs from the Great Tribulation. Their “victory” was to obey unto death.

God gives you grace sufficient to obey unto death.

Does it not follow that a believer can trust grace sufficient to obey in circumstances less than life-and-death?

Family and government were persecuting the recipients of the Letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament for believing Jesus. In one place, the author indicates their possessions were being seized. Listen to this piece of godly advice:

Heb 12:3  For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
Heb 12:4  You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

The author advised them to be more like Jesus because, after all, they hadn’t shed blood yet.

Our advice to one another ought to be that, like Jesus, we can find and follow the leading of God the Holy Spirit. We need to toughen spiritually.

A.W. Tozer said, “We want to be saved, but we insist that Christ do all the dying.”

Have you ever had a nightmare vacation where everything went wrong? A Planes, Trains & Automobiles experience?

Delays, difficulties, even disasters are to be expected. Eventually, you got home.

We are on a nightmarish camping trip as we walk on Earth as strangers and pilgrims. Of course you will have trials and troubles. It would be weird if you didn’t. We need to keep our thoughts and affections on our homes in the future New Jerusalem.

The “Beast” is the person we commonly call the antichrist. He is never called antichrist in the Revelation. Neither is he called by most of his other names, more than thirty of them mentioned throughout the Bible.

In chapter thirteen, we saw him as a world leader coming back to life after being assassinated. He comes directly from the Abyss (11:7), which is a prison for evil supernatural beings. It suggests that the Beast will have a supernatural body because a ‘regular’ body cannot exist in the Abyss.

His “image” seems alive. If I had to guess, I’d say it will be advanced Artificial Intelligence.

We suggest the “Mark” is something on you or in you, a biometric identifier, that will enable a global, cashless, contactless economy. Mid-Tribulation, the Beast will desecrate the re-erected Jewish Temple, demanding to be worshipped. Fail to swear allegiance to him and it will be simple for his government to lock you out of everything, track you down, incarcerate or kill you.

In chapter thirteen, we talked about the dreaded “number of his name,” 666. We suggested it was symbolic of the failure of mankind to establish a permanent kingdom. There are, in the Bible, six nations that impacted Israel in prophecy: (1)Egypt, (2)Assyria, (3)Babylon, (4)Medo-Persia, (5)Greece, and (6)Rome. In the last days, there will be a revived (6-6)Roman Empire. The revived (6-6-6)Roman Empire will be taken over by the Beast.

666 is the sixth empire, Rome, repeating itself.

The martyrs stand on the Sea of Glass in the heavenly Temple.

The Bronze Sea on Earth was a large basin of water where the priests washed themselves and the sacrifices to signify their being “clean” to God. Standing on the Sea communicates they are permanently washed and clean.

Rev 15:3  They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God… (Stop there)

I don’t think of Moses as a singer. After all, he complained to God that he had slowness of speech. Maybe he was like Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle), who talked one way but sang another.

Turns out, stuttering and singing are a right brain/left brain thing. Stutterers are often able to sing clearly.

I do not wish to alienate fans of Dolly Parton, but you have to admit Whitney Houston’s cover of I Will Always Love You is superior.

The martyrs will ‘cover’ the Song of Moses. Scholars split as to which song because the Old Testament records two, one in Exodus chapter fifteen and another in Deuteronomy chapter thirty-two. The Exodus song best fits the context.

Rev 15:3  They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!
Rev 15:4  Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.”

The “Lamb” the martyrs sing to is Jesus. A few thoughts about the lyrics:

His “works” include creation. All things were made by Him and for Him. His most significant work, however, is you (and me). We are His workmanship, His masterpiece. Do you ever marvel at the beauty, power, and downright awesomeness of nature? It is nothing compared to what Jesus is making you.

As “Lord Almighty,” He cannot fail to accomplish all He has prophesied and promised.

His “ways” are “just and true.” The death penalty for sin is just and true, and so is His taking our punishment upon Himself. In so doing, He justifies a believing sinner, declaring him or her righteous while remaining just in executing the death penalty.

He is, and is coming, as “King of the saints,” and all the Earth shall bow before Him.

One of the resources I consulted said, “God tolerated those who would remain in evil for the sake of those who would be saved, rather than ending the world immediately.”

God’s wrath could have ended the world in the Garden of Eden. Instead, He revealed His plan to redeem sinners by dying in their place and calling upon them to repent of sin and be saved.

In wrath, our God remembers mercy. The grace of His wrath is calling sinners to repentance.

#2 – God Shows You Righteousness By Displaying Wrath (v5-8)

History reveals moments in which God displayed His wrath:

• Adam and Eve’s exile from Eden (Genesis 3).
• The global flood (Genesis 6-9).
• The confusion of language at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11).
• The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19).

God also meted out wrath upon individuals:

• Nadab and Abihu were incinerated in the Old Testament after offering “strange fire” to the Lord (Leviticus 10).
• God struck dead Ananias and Sapphira in the New Testament for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5).

Rev 15:5  After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in Heaven was opened.

We inaccurately call the entire compound on Earth the Temple. The Temple consisted of two small rooms, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. A veil separated them.

John can see into the Holy Place and Holy of Holies in Heaven. When Jesus died on the Cross, He cried out in a loud, authoritative voice, “It is finished!” The veil that separated us from the presence of God was torn by Him from top to bottom. In Christ, we have immediate access to God.

Do not allow yourself to be drawn into any rite or ritual or religious rule that adds a layer of separation.

Rev 15:6  And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands.

The angels didn’t hang out in the Holy of Holies. It would seem that they entered for a specific purpose and will exit.

They wear garments that would remind Jews of the ministry of the High Priest on the annual Day of Atonement. The High Priest entered and exited the Holy of Holies three times.

The vision thus gets us thinking about the Day of Atonement. These “plagues” give those who inhabit Earth their last opportunity to believe the Gospel and be ‘at-one’ with God.

Rev 15:7  Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.

Ceremonies are meant to be moving. The funerals I have officiated that have military honors can take your breath away in their solemnity.

In Heaven, the coming “plagues” are put into “bowls.” It is solemn, for sure, anticipating the coming calamities.

Rev 15:8  The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.

God’s glory filled the earthly Tabernacle, and later the Temple. Here it manifests as “smoke.”

Smoke signals are an ancient form of communication. They are still in use today, e.g., the Vatican’s announcing the election of a new Pope.

The smoke from Heaven ‘signals’ the action of chapter sixteen, “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth” (v1).

“No one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.” Whatever else this may signify, it focuses our full attention on the pouring out of the plagues described in detail in the next chapter.

Earlier I said that His first response to human sin should govern our understanding of the Wrath of God. It may sound as if I am minimizing God’s wrath.

It is a common criticism leveled at evangelicals that we minimize wrath. One Reformed pastor wrote, “God’s wrath [has been] eliminated from many (or most?) twentieth-century pulpits.”

We do not minimize God’s wrath.

It’s sort of difficult to minimize (or maximize) it if we go verse-by-verse through the Bible. Doing so, we get all aspects of the Wrath of God, from its compassion to its condemnation and everything in-between.

We read in John 3:18 & 36, “He who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God…. He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Our holy and therefore perfect God will pour out his wrath upon those who have sinned against Him without repentance or faith in His Son. Those who never believe Jesus for salvation face judgment followed by eternal, conscious torment in the Lake of Fire.

On the Cross, Jesus volunteered Himself to drink the full cup of God’s wrath. As we learn from His prayers in Gethsemane, there was no other way for wrath to be removed except through His death on the Cross.

For all those who trust in Christ, this punishment is removed.

For those who refuse Christ, God’s wrath remains.

If you are in Christ, Jesus has taken the Wrath of God you deserved upon Himself.

Furthermore, He has promised you that you will not endure any portion of His wrath in the Great Tribulation. He said, “I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 3:10).

You should be Singin’ of His Reign.

Angels In The Atmos-field (Revelation 14:1-20)

What would you call Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, & Peter Lawford?

They were the Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra’s posse.

Artists and actors worthy of celebrity have an inner circle of folks that are their posse or if you prefer, entourage.

We call Jesus “the Famous One,” and He has a sizable posse in the Revelation.

Rev 14:1  Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.

The text contrasts the 144,000 with the followers of the Beast who “receive his mark on [their] forehead or on [their] hand” (v9).

The 144,000 are not the only believers Jesus writes upon.

He tells believers in the current Church Age, “I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is New Jerusalem, which comes down out of Heaven from my God: and I will write upon him My new name” (3:12).

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Walk With The Lord Knowing You Have His Name Written On You, and #2 Talk To The Lost Knowing You Have His Fame To Witness To Them.

#1 – Walk With The Lord Knowing You Have His Name Written On You (v1-5)

Putting a bumper sticker on someone else’s car that says something stupid is an OK prank. To stick one on that they might not even notice and shows up at night when lit with headlights from another car, that’s waaaayyyy better. You can Google the details on the instructables website.

The “writing on the foreheads” of the 144,000 may or may not be visible to people during the darkness of the Great Tribulation. One thing is sure: The light of Jesus Christ illuminates their witness, and everyone on Earth will ‘see’ that they belong to Him.

Rev 14:1  Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.

We met the 144,000 in chapter seven. It is not a symbolic number:

They are 12,000 from 12 tribes of Israel.
They are Jewish men, no women.
They were sealed by God and rendered untouchable by their enemies.
At the end of the Great Tribulation, they are safe and sound and successful.

The Revelation is chronological as you follow the opening of seven seals on the scroll Jesus takes from His Father:

The opening of the seventh seal results in the blowing of seven successive trumpets.
The blowing of the seventh trumpet results in the pouring out upon Earth seven successive bowls of the wrath of God.

Other notable events are interspersed as flashbacks or flash-forwards in-between the seals, trumpets, and bowls.

“Lamb” is John’s favorite name for Jesus in this book. He’s the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. What He accomplished once-for-all on the Cross is enacted in the Revelation.

Mount Zion is on Earth, and this is the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of the seven years.
The 144,000 will gather to Him and serve Him in the Millennial Kingdom.

Rev 14:2  And I heard a voice from Heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps.

The climactic events of the Great Tribulation will have a musical score. Think of certain movies you love, and you’ll realize the soundtrack played a significant role in telling the story.

Rev 14:3  They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.

The “four living creatures” are a type of angels whose joy and job it is to worship the Lord day and night.
The “elders” are most likely a divine council of supernatural beings we read about in several Old Testament passages (e.g., Psalm 89:5-7). (I refer you to our previous studies).
Don’t the 144,000 need to be in Heaven to be singing “before the throne?” No. Whenever we sing, isn’t it to God? Aren’t we before Him? Doesn’t He hear it before His throne? The 144,000 are on the earth with Jesus, on Mount Zion, at His Second Coming. Heaven is providing a live soundtrack for a song they sing.

It’s a “new” song:

We should not do things to seem “new,” or as we might say, “hip.”
Neither should we be held back by the way we’ve always done things. God the Holy Spirit can and will guide us if we listen.

Rev 14:4  These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.

These guys are untouchable by the forces of evil, but that protection would not extend to a wife and family. They are better off without those relationships.
How many movies have you seen where the hero’s family is kidnapped or killed? Enemies pressured Jack Bauer to kill President Palmer because kidnappers had his daughter.

At certain times, celibacy is advisable.

“Defiled with women” means rendered unclean by sexual contact. Jews would immediately understand this to be a ceremonial uncleanness, not a moral one. In the Old Testament Law, certain behaviors that were not themselves sinful would nevertheless prohibit a worshipper from approaching God until a prescribed time had passed or a specific offering was made.

The 144,000 abstain from marriage and the marriage bed to remain undistracted in their mission.

Athletes are encouraged to abstinence when training. Mick warned Rocky to stay away from “that pet shop dame” during his training for the upcoming fight with Apollo Creed. “Women weaken legs,” was his sage advice.

Think of “legs” as your walk with the Lord. What weakens your legs? It could be a person, a possession, a place, a practice. Whatever it is, you may need to abstain from it to serve the Lord.

When you read that “they follow the Lamb wherever He goes,” John is looking forward after the Second Coming to their work in the Kingdom.

“These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” Firstfruits are always the promise of a greater harvest. God uses them to bring forth more fruit as men, women, and children receive the Lord.

Rev 14:5  And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.

Lies and idolatry characterize the Great Tribulation. We read in Second Thessalonians that there is something called “the lie” that people who follow the Beast will believe (2:11).

The 144,000 are “without fault.” It could be translated “without blemish.”
It is a technical phrase describing the sacrifices that were worthy of being brought to God.

We are not Jews by descent. We are not the 144,000.

God the Holy Spirit seals us and we do have the Lord’s Name written on us. Like the 144,000, we are clean and without blemish.

In the Book of Ephesians, we learn that Jesus will “sanctify and cleanse [us] with the washing of water by the word [and] present [us] to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that [we] should be holy and without blemish” (5:26-27).

We cooperate with Jesus by remaining “clean” and “without blemish.” We do it by obeying Him in the empowering and enabling He provides by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Dwight Eisenhower said, “When you put on a uniform, there are certain inhibitions that you accept.”

Jesus accepted many inhibitions when He put on human flesh and became man. He did it willingly, joyfully, for you.

Supernatural beings undoubtedly can see His writing on us. Human beings ‘see’ it in a different way. The apostle Paul calls us living epistles and says other men read us. It’s up to us to determine what type of reading material we are. Endeavor to be more Bible and less Mad Magazine.

Ask yourself, “What publications do I resemble?”

#2 – Talk To The Lost Knowing You Have His Fame To Witness To Them (v6-20)

We endeavor in our study of the Revelation to highlight the grace and mercy of God. This chapter, for lack of a better word, oozes grace and mercy. God dispatches angels to “preach”… “the everlasting Gospel,” and warn the lost not to align with the Beast.

Rev 14:6  Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people –
Rev 14:7  saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”

I delight in a well-executed fly-over of jets from NAS Lemoore. The sound, the sight, the power of it.

Angel fly-overs will have everyone on the planet looking up and listening .

The Gospel must be preached to the whole world before Jesus can return. It’s true – with regards to His Second Coming, not the rapture. The Gospel will be preached to every human during the Great Tribulation by an angel.

It is “the everlasting Gospel” because “the hour of His judgment has come.” Everlasting life in Heaven or Hell is always on the line, but in the middle of the Great Tribulation, it will be on the line as never before because the clock is counting down.

The angel emphasizes that God is the Creator. God provides the “The heavens [to] declare the glory of God; And the firmament [to show] His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.”

Those are the opening words of Psalm nineteen. Creation demands a Creator, and those who seek Him will find Him. Creation does witness to mankind.

Merrill Unger called Creation, “The Oldest Testament.”

Rev 14:8  And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

A literal city of Babylon will exist in the Great Tribulation. There is also going to be a false religious system called Babylon. We’ll read all about their rise and fall in chapters seventeen and eighteen.

The city and the system make “all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” The world wants to get you drunk with its excesses.

Never underestimate your unredeemed body with its propensity to sin. It wants excessively. It lusts. It’s a monster.

The world, meaning the world system currently ruled over by Satan, tempts your flesh to indulge.

Rev 14:9  Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand… [Stop there]

A person must consciously choose to worship the Beast. An angel will warn those who inhabit Earth not to do so in language they cannot misunderstand.

Our perspective on the Mark is that, first, a global socio-economic system of cashless commerce will have been established. It will likely utilize a biometric identifier on the hand or forehead, e.g., facial recognition or palm-vein scanning. Everyone will be forced to participate.

Mid-way through the Great Tribulation, the Beast demands to be worshipped. If a person refuses, they cannot buy or sell, or travel, or work, or anything. Think of the pressure to swear allegiance to him.

BUT:


Rev 14:10  he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
Rev 14:11  And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

Eternal conscious torment in the Lake of Fire awaits the Beast. He, along with the second Beast who assists him, are the first residents of Hell, confined there at the Second Coming of Jesus.

Anyone who refuses the everlasting Gospel will eventually, eternally, join them.

Rev 14:12  Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
Rev 14:13  Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ”

The “patience” of those who refuse the Mark means their willingness to endure whatever earthly consequences follow. For multitudes, it will be martyrdom. They will be “the dead who die in the Lord.”

On Earth, trouble followed them in the form of mistreatment and martyrdom.
In Heaven, “their works follow them.”

Do you ever think of death as being “blessed?” “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

At the end of verse thirteen, you’re told the Holy Spirit speaks. That’s huge!

The Bible elsewhere describes Him ‘speaking,’ but not like this. In the Church at Antioch, He spoke to the disciples to separate and send Paul and Barnabas to go out to preach the Gospel.

We are not told how He spoke, but we are pretty sure it wasn’t audibly.

God the Holy Spirit does speak audibly here.

His precious few words are what you’d expect Him to say as the Comforter. “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”

God the Holy Spirit says “Yes.” It is more than a word of agreement. It is a reminder that everything God has said in the Bible is “Yes and Amen” (Second Corinthians 1:20). God’s Word cannot fail.
“Labors,” according to Strong’s Concordance, means pains, troubles, weariness. Those will give way to eternal “rest.” It’s as if God the Holy Spirit were singing to you, “Soon your trials will be over… We will meet in the Golden City in the New Jerusalem, All our pain and all our tears will be no more.”

There are various approaches and systems of biblical counseling. Take your cue from God the Holy Spirit.

Godly counsel, resulting in genuine comfort, should never fail to direct the heart to the believer’s homecoming.

Rev 14:14  Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.
Rev 14:15  And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”
Rev 14:16  So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.

Jesus said of Himself that the Son of Man will be seen coming upon the clouds of Heaven (Matthew 24:30). He said that He would send His angels to gather the elect (Matthew 24:31).

Jesus and His holy angels are depicted as reapers coming to harvest souls with their sickles in hand.
The harvest is first compared to a crop of grain and then to a crop of grapes. Each focuses on a particular aspect of the final harvest of judgment at the Second Coming:

The harvest of grain illustrates the separating of believers from nonbelievers.
The harvest of grapes illustrates the crushing of the armies gathered against the Lord in the Valley of Megiddo (Revelation 19:19).

Rev 14:17  Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
Rev 14:18  And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.”
Rev 14:19  So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
Rev 14:20  And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.

Seven mentions of sickles. Wielded by the mythical Grim Reaper, death personified, the reaper sickle is the iconic representation of death.

Not the Grim Reaper, but angels will assist Jesus by gathering the human race and by separating believers from nonbelievers.

More cowbell or not, nonbelievers should Fear the Reaper.

The “blood” of verse twenty describes the Battle of Armageddon at the Lord’s Second Coming. It won’t be much of a battle. As Thor said to Bruce Banner of his contest with the Hulk, “I won, easily.”

The harvest is overripe. Throughout history, extending into the Great Tribulation, God is patient, striving with sinners, seeking them to save them. He’s waiting, waiting, waiting to provide opportunity to be saved, because the alternative is so drastic, so final, so tragic. One day His longsuffering must end.

The church is not Jesus’ posse.

We are His bride, His building, His field, His body. We are the ones who spread His fame. His name is on us, visible to supernaturals, seen by our behaviors by mere humans.

A.W. Tozer said it best: “If we cooperate with Him in loving obedience, God will manifest Himself to us, and that manifestation will be the difference between a nominal Christian life and a life radiant with the light of His face.”

666 Is The Manliest Number That You’ll Ever Do (Revelation 13:1-18)

007’s villains employed henchmen to do their bidding.

Goldfinger had Oddjob. His signature weapon was a razor-edged bowler hat, which he wore at all times and could throw with deadly accuracy.
Two of James Bond’s villains employed Jaws. He was a skilled killer relying on brute strength and steel teeth to dispatch his victims.

Satan will employ two henchmen to do his bidding in the future Great Tribulation.

“I saw a Beast rising up out of the sea… Then I saw another Beast coming up out of ‘the earth” (v1&11).

The dragon empowers the Beastie Boys to convince those who inhabit Earth to worship him.

It serves to remind us that Satan hates us and has a terrible plan for our lives.

I’ll organize my comments around two questions: #1 What Are You Being Offered To Worship Satan?, and #2 How Are You Being Oppressed To Worship Satan?

#1 – What Are You Being Offered To Worship Satan? (v1-10)

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia.

It is the fear of the number 666.

The number of the Beast isn’t the most crucial thing in this chapter. It is something in the Bible that piques our curiosity. Let’s break with expository protocol and start in verse eighteen.

Rev 13:18  Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the Beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.

The number ‘6’ in the Bible is associated with mankind:

Man was created on the sixth day.
In Israel, men were to work six out of every seven days.
A Hebrew could only be held in servitude for a maximum of six years.
After six consecutive years of sowing a field, it was required to lay fallow.

In the Bible, men establish 6 empires that are prominent in relation to national Israel. They are, in succession, (1)Egypt, (2) Assyria, (3) Babylon, (4) Medo-Persia, (5)Greece, and (6)Rome.

The Roman Empire is going to repeat two more times in the future:

There will be a Revived Roman Empire.
The Revived Roman Empire will be taken over by Satan’s Agent 666.

(6) Rome; (6) Revived Rome; (6)Revived Rome ruled by the Beast, is 6 repeating two more times – 666.

666 is the number of “man” attempting to establish a godless kingdom on Earth. It will be the number of “a” man, the Beast, in a final desperate attempt to rule the world.

666 is as far as mankind can go. The true 7th kingdom will be established by Jesus at His Second Coming.

Rev 13:1  Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a Beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.

A better translation is, “The dragon stood on the shore of the sea.” Satan was expelled from Heaven in chapter twelve and cast down to Earth.

A Beast rises up “out of the sea.” Or does he??

In Revelation 11:7, we were told that the Beast “ascends out of the bottomless pit.”
In chapter seventeen, we will read, “the Beast that you saw… will ascend out of the bottomless pit” (v8).

The bottomless pit is the Abyss. The Abyss is a place of confinement for evil beings.

Which is it – the bottomless pit or the sea? Since the Bible uses them interchangeably, we conclude that the “sea” in these passages represents the Abyss.

In chapter seventeen we’ll read, “[An] angel said to me… “I will tell you the mystery… of the Beast… which has the seven heads and the ten horns” (v7).

If we are not raptured, we will talk about heads and horns when we get to chapter seventeen. For now, it’s enough to say this is the description of mankind’s attempts to establish a kingdom without God.

Rev 13:2  Now the Beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.

Daniel described the flow of history using these animals associated with Babylon, then Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. God’s Word tells one story throughout.

Rev 13:3  And I saw one of his heads…

Does this guy have more than one head? No. That would be weird even for the Revelation.

At first the Beast is identified with other national leaders in a coalition government. He is one “head” among them.

Something happens to his “head” that elevates him to be “head” over all the “heads.”

Rev 13:3  And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the Beast.
The Beast will be killed but return to life.

Revelation 17:8 makes it clear he dies when you read, “The Beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition.” He was alive, he died, he was sent to the Abyss, he returned from the Abyss, and in the end he will be cast into “perdition,” another name for the Lake of Fire we commonly refer to as Hell.

Something to ponder. We know from the teaching of Jesus that when nonbelievers die, they go to Hades to await resurrection and judgment. All nonbelievers from all human existence will afterward be raised, given an immortal body, and judged at the Great White Throne. They will be consigned to eternal conscious punishment in the Lake of Fire.

No Hades for you, Beast. He goes to the Abyss and returns from there to the wonder of the world.

A mortal human body cannot survive in the Abyss. It suggests that when the Beast returns he will have an immortal body.

At the Second Coming of Jesus, both Beasts become the first occupants of the Lake of Fire, which demands that they have immortal bodies (19:20).

The ascended Beast will have supernatural abilities. No wonder “all the world marveled and followed the Beast.”

Rev 13:4  So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the Beast; and they worshiped the Beast, saying, “Who is like the Beast? Who is able to make war with him?”
Rev 13:5  And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months.

“Forty-two months” are 1260 days, or a time times and half a time. They are the last half of the Great Tribulation. The malevolent, blaspheming Beast will be the champion for all those who refuse to repent and believe the testimony of the Gospel. Nonbelievers will have false hope that the dragon who is credited with this miracle can contend with, and defeat, Jesus.

Rev 13:6  Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.

Daniel and Jesus predict that the Beast will defile the Holy of Holies in the Tribulation Temple. They label the incident, “The Abomination of Desolation.” The Beast demands worship which is, in fact, worship of his boss, Satan.

Rev 13:7  It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.

“Granted,” “given to him,” reminds us that God remains in charge. The outcome of the Great Tribulation is never in question.

Martyrdom is never a defeat. It is a testimony.

Rev 13:8  All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Jesus’ sacrificial death on the Cross is understood to have occurred “from the foundation of the world.” He is, “The Savior of all men, especially of those who believe” (First Timothy 4:10).

“Have not been written” can be worded, “the name does not remain written.” We argue that everyone’s name is written in the Book from eternity past. The names of those who never believe in Jesus will not “remain” in the Book. Their names will not be found when they are raised to face judgment.

Rev 13:9  If anyone has an ear, let him hear.

Sound familiar? Seven times in chapters two & three, to the seven churches of Asia, we read, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

There is no mention of the Spirit & the churches because the church was resurrected and raptured before the Great Tribulation.

Rev 13:10  He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

Sometimes a condemned person will be asked, “Do you have any last words?” The first part of verse ten may be the last words of the Tribulation saints before their martyrdom. They testify with their lives by “faith,” with “patience.”

You might have noticed that I haven’t at all used the title “antichrist.” The Revelation never uses it.

This first Beast is the antichrist. He has over forty names in the Bible. A few of them: The Man of Sin, The Lawless One, The Bloody & Deceitful Man, The Wicked One, The Man of the Earth, The Mighty Man, The Violent Man, The Assyrian, The Spoiler, The Little Horn, The Prince that Shall Come, The Willful King, and The Idol Shepherd. (A.W. Pink, The Antichrist).

When Jesus was on Earth, Satan offered Him all the kingdoms of the world if the Lord would worship him. Jesus did not dispute Satan’s temporary rulership.

We can expect the devil to make us offers.

What worldly “kingdom” has Satan offered you to weaken your walk with Jesus? Is it the kingdom of happiness, if you will break your marriage vows?

It isn’t a rebuke. It is a reminder. Be ready.

#2 – How Are You Being Oppressed To Worship Satan? (v11-18)

Beast One won’t be working alone. He will have the help of Beast Two.

Rev 13:11  Then I saw another Beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon.

The second Beast comes from “Earth,” meaning he doesn’t spend time in the Abyss. At some point, however, he, too, will need an immortal body before being cast into the Lake of Fire. We are not told when he receives it.

Beast Two’s description as having “two horns like a lamb” is interesting in that everywhere else the word “lamb” is used in the Revelation it refers to Jesus.

Beast Two is a Jesus impersonator.

He will speak “like a dragon.” Why is the world’s best selling dictation software called Dragon?

Rev 13:12 And he exercises all the authority of the first Beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first Beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

“In his presence” means on his behalf. He has authority and makes things happen in this evil administration.

One thing that he makes happen is to cause “the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first Beast whose deadly wound was healed.” We are told how he does it in verse thirteen:

Rev 13:13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.

“Performs” is in a tense that indicates repeated activity. He does sign after sign. The “signs” are designed to persuade mankind to worship the first Beast.

Commentators get all wound up trying to prove that Satan and his minions are incapable of doing anything truly miraculous. The Great Tribulation, especially the last half of it, will be a very unusual time, unlike any other that the world has ever or will ever know. It’s likely that God will allow Satan to perform limited miracles.

One of the “signs” is “he… makes fire come down from Heaven in the sight of men.” God’s two witnesses, who we met in a previous study, can kill with fire. In the Old Testament, Moses performed various signs that were mimicked by the magicians of Egypt. This could be something similar, as if to say, “Anything God can do, I can do.”

Rev 13:14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth – by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the Beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the Beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.

“Deceives” means to lead astray. Miracles, signs, and wonders can validate God’s Word; or they can lead you astray. God’s Word must be used to judge their source by the message associated with them.

The people on earth will be led “to make an image to the Beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.” They will help “make” it.

Remember the Golden Calf? Early in the Exodus from Egypt, Aaron, Moses’ brother, had the Israelites bring their gold and jewelry in order to use them for making the idol they would worship. They helped “make” it.

Could this be Artificial Intelligence? In one of our Prophecy Updates, we reported on Xian’er, the robotic monk. He was developed by a team of monks, volunteers and AI experts from Longquan Monastery in Beijing, China. He can follow human instructions to make body movements, read scriptures, and play Buddhist music. He can chat and respond to people’s emotional and spiritual questions with Buddhist wisdom.

Insofar as helping make it, one article noted, “firms achieve the most significant performance improvements when humans and machines work together. Through such collaborative intelligence, humans and AI actively enhance each other’s complementary strengths.”

Rev 13:15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the Beast, that the image of the Beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the Beast to be killed.

Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest translates “give breath” as animate. It won’t be sentient life as we know it but something akin to AI.

Those who refuse to worship the Beast are killed. Notice that it is the image itself which causes the non-worshippers to be killed. How???

Rev 13:16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads,

“Causes,” not forces. A contemporary example would be our governor’s mask mandates.

You aren’t being forced to wear a mask, but the mandates cause you to wear one if you want to do anything.

It’s “The Mask of the Beast.”

In the Great Tribulation people will already be utilizing some sort of technology to conduct contactless, cashless business. Mid-way into the Great Tribulation, people will make a decision to worship the Beast or be excluded from all participation in society.

It’ll be a choice. No one ever takes the mark accidentally, or without knowing what they are doing (14:9-10).

How might the image kill people? Referring again to a recent Prophecy Update, we reported on Slaughterbots. They are weaponized drones that can find and kill their targets using only facial recognition.

“All” in verse sixteen means all types and classes of people. They are described in contrasting pairs:

“Small and great.” It won’t matter if you are educated or uneducated, white collar or blue collar or no collar. Those distinctions will still exist but being “great” will not exempt you, nor will being “small” exclude you.
“Rich and poor.” There will always be disparity of wealth. Wealth will be useless unless you are participating in the system.
“Free and slave.” A little later we’ll read that men trafficked in “the souls of men” (18:13). Human trafficking is a malignant problem in the world. It will worsen. If you’re “free,” you’re not free to refuse the mark.

John specifically mentions the “right hand” and the “forehead.” I see no reason this should not be taken literally. Whether it is some sort of visible branding, or one of the modern technologies, it will involve the head and the hand.

Rev 13:17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the Beast, or the number of his name.

Micro-chipping… RFID… Fingerprints… Facial recognition… Palm scans… Retinal scans.

Those are a sampling of technologies that would, in our estimation, fit the bill.

A person will not be able to conduct any business or utilize any services unless they worship the Beast.

Rev 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the Beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.

It’s true that the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are assigned a numerical value. It is why we see so many attempts to determine if any current world leader’s name might add-up to 666.

Will the name of Beast One need to add-up to 666 in order for future believers to recognize him? I think that his coming back from the dead from the Abyss with supernatural powers might give him away.

Believers in the Great Tribulation will be oppressed to worship the Beast and through him, the dragon.

In the Church Age, we can expect to be pressed.

The apostle Paul captures our pressures:

2Co 4:7  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
2Co 4:8  We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
2Co 4:9  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed –
2Co 4:10  always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
2Co 4:11  For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

You will be under pressure from the dragon to disobey God. The devil is certain you will fail if he can turn up the heat:

He tried it with Job, saying to God, “Stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face! (1:11).
He asked for permission to “sift Peter like wheat” (Luke 22:31).

The Lord kept them. He will keep you.

Where Eagles Dare To Fled (Revelation 12:6-17)

Vesna Vulović holds the record.

On January 26, 1972, Vesna was a Serbian flight attendant. She was the sole survivor after a briefcase bomb exploded in the baggage compartment of JAT Flight 367.

She holds the Guinness world record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute: 33,330ft

She suffered a fractured skull, three broken vertebrae, broken legs, broken ribs, and a broken pelvis. She made an almost complete recovery except for walking with a limp.

Thirty years earlier, in January 1942, Luftwaffe fighters attacked Ivan Chisov’s Soviet bomber, forcing him to bail out at an altitude of approximately 23,000ft. With the air battle still raging around him, Chisov intentionally did not open his parachute. He feared that he would be an easy target. He planned to drop below the level of the air battle before pulling the ripcord. He lost consciousness before he could.

Despite his injuries, he was able to fly again three months later.

Bear Grylls was skydiving in Zambia in 1996 when his parachute failed. He fell 16,000ft. Grylls went through a year of rehabilitation for a broken back.

The ‘highest fall’ record is going to be broken one more time by a massive margin in the future.

In verse nine, we’re told, “the great dragon was cast out [of Heaven], that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

From Heaven to Earth the hard way. I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Your Accuser Will Fall From Heaven, and #2 Your Accuser Will Fail On Earth.

#1 – Your Accuser Will Fall From Heaven (v6-9)

Superheroes are always falling huge distances. Both Thor and the Hulk survive falling from a S.H.I.E.L.D. hellicarrier in The Avengers.

The supervillain, Satan, will be cast down from Heaven along with the ⅓ of the angels who followed him in his initial rebellion.

Rev 12:6  Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

We commented on verse six in our last study. In Genesis 37:9-10, Joseph says, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?” (37:9-10).

The “sun and the moon” are Joesph’s parents, Jacob and Rachel.
The “eleven stars” are his eleven brothers, the patriarchs of eleven tribes of Israel.
Joseph is the twelfth star.

The woman clothed with the sun, the moon, and the twelve stars is national Israel.

Satan’s wrath will force Jews living in the Holy Land to flee “into the wilderness.” God will prepares a place where they will be safe for “one thousand two hundred and sixty days,” which is the last half of the Great Tribulation.

Rev 12:7  And war broke out in Heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” It is mind-boggling to realize that Satan has access to Heaven.

Satan is in Heaven in the opening chapters of the Book of Job. “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them… Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD” (1:6 & 2:1).

“War” will break out “in Heaven” mid-way through the Great Tribulation. What will that be like? The Book of Daniel mentions a conflict between Gabriel and another angel, the evil Prince of Persia (10:13). He “withstood” Gabriel, hindering his coming to Daniel. How he withstood him is a mystery.

There was a Star Trek original series episode in which two civilizations fight by computer. If you were ‘hit,’ you surrendered yourself to a death chamber.
In the film Hook, an adult Peter Pan has an insult fight with Rufio.
More recently, StarLord challenged Ronan the Accuser to a winner-take-all dance-off in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

Rev 12:8  but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in Heaven any longer.

“They did not prevail” is in the running for the greatest understatement of all time. The outcome of the conflict is never in question.

You might still be doubtful that Satan and his angels could be in Heaven. We read, “Nor was a place found for them in Heaven any longer.” There must be a place for them, i.e., access, until this future time.

Rev 12:9  So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Satan is called “dragon” thirteen times in the Bible, and eight are in this chapter. In the end, the once beautiful anointed cherub (Ezekiel 28:14) who transforms into an angel of light (Second Corinthians 11:14) is a monster.

We are given an incredible insight into thinking about the world we inhabit with concerning nonbelievers.

The devil “deceives the whole world.” This word translated as “deceived” has an intriguing possible definition: roam from safety, truth, or virtue.

God’s reveals His truth in the Bible. The devil is deceiving nonbelievers to question God’s Word. “Has God indeed said” are the first recorded words of Satan. He is still prefacing his deception the same way in order to deceive folks into questioning God.

Nonbelievers roam about, settling on some philosophy or politics or psychology invented by sinful men in rebellion against God.

Nothing that they find in their roaming can save them, transform them, or bring them peace.

The farther they roam, the weirder their beliefs and behaviors become. Nonbelievers have been roaming far away from biblical marriage.

Biblical marriage is a covenant of companionship between one biological male and one biological female in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship intended to last as long as they live.

Biblical marriage is safe, built upon the truth, promoting virtue.

Nonbelievers need the truth. They need Jesus.

#2 – Your Accuser Will Fail On Earth (v10-17)

We shouldn’t laugh at it or use it in sarcasm, but there is something funny about the phrase, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.”

In Heaven, Satan’s fall won’t provoke laughter, but it will produce rejoicing.

Rev 12:10  Then I heard a loud voice saying in Heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

The “loud voice” presents a hymn of praise. “Salvation… strength…the kingdom of God… the power of Christ” are constants in the created universe. They have always been true of our God.

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, Satan became the temporary ruler of this world within boundaries God sets. History is the account of God regaining what Adam and Eve forfeited. “Salvation… strength…the kingdom of God… the power of Christ” will be returned. The Revelation explains when and how.

If you are in Christ, you have salvation, spiritual strength, and can do all things through Christ’s power. You are already a citizen of His kingdom. You’re waiting for it to come fully.

We quoted from the first two chapters in Job. Read them and you get a typical example of Satan as the “accuser.” He has been accusing believers since the beginning.

We love a good courtroom drama. When court is in session, the accused doesn’t speak to the judge.
An advocate represents him or her. If the defendant does talk, he or she is out of order.

We should keep our mouths shut more often and let our Advocate, Jesus, do the talking.

The judge sustains all Jesus’ objections. He has never lost a case. We are always declared, “Not guilty!” To be biblical, we are declared “justified.” Thanks to Jesus taking our place in death, God sees me just-as-if-I’d never sinned.

Rev 12:11  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

This is true of all martyrs. The focus is probably on the Tribulation martyrs. A great number of Jews will die during the Great Tribulation:

Zechariah 13:8 And it shall come to pass in all the land,” Says the LORD, “That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, But one-third shall be left in it:
Zechariah 13:9 I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; And each one will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’ ”

A martyr is someone who “did not love their lives to the death.” The apostle Paul amplifies that into a way of life when he says, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:21&23).

Martyrdom is not contrary to God’s salvation, strength, and power. The bold testimony of a martyr is a tribute to those attributes.

I doubt any of us will be martyred, at least not anytime soon. Make it a question, and ask yourself, “Do I love my life more than dying? More than dying to self?”

The rich young ruler comes to mind. He sincerely desired to follow Jesus. Nevertheless, we read,

Luk 18:22  … Jesus… said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Luk 18:23  But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.
Luk 18:24  And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”

You can be sure that Lord will tell you something like he told the rich young ruler. It may be about wealth and possessions. It may be about something, or someone, else, that is an obstacle in your walk.

If Jesus asked you to do something, would you? Only you can answer that.

We would have counseled the rich young ruler to take the Lord’s advice. What riches could compare with walking with the Savior? A.W. Tozer wrote, “God wants us to know that when we have Him, we have everything.”

When Jesus asks, be ready to give up that you may gain.

Rev 12:12  Therefore rejoice, O Heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

The “sea” might refer to islands. The casting out of the dragon and its aftermath is not local, limited to the Middle East. It is global. Because it is global, we know it hasn’t happened yet.

“Great wrath” is beyond anger. It is outrage. Satan will no longer be content to lay traps and set snares. He won’t have the luxury of being patient. He will go 5150. He will be in a road-rage state of mind, pulling out all the stops to shed blood – especially Jewish blood.

His “short time” is yet another reminder that this is looking to the future. It hasn’t happened yet.

Rev 12:13  Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.

Satan is stunned for a moment. He sees that he has been “cast to the earth.” Shaking off his bewilderment, he realizes he has landed in chapter twelve of the Revelation.

We saw last week that the “male Child” born to national Israel as their Messiah, and the Savior of the world, is Jesus. Throughout history, the devil tried to prevent Jesus from being born. Having failed, his only strategy in the future will be to try to exterminate Jews. If he can kill every Jew, God cannot fulfill the unconditional promises He has made to them.

Rev 12:14  But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.

It is good to be reminded of two things:

The Bible is the best commentary on the Bible.
The Revelation draws heavily from the Old Testament.

Let’s see how this applies to the “eagle.” “Two wings of a great eagle” is a biblical image that was well-known to Jews:

In Exodus 19:4, we read, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.”
In Deuteronomy 32:11, God says of Himself, “As an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its young, Spreading out its wings, taking them up, Carrying them on its wings…”

The eagle is not from The Lord of the Rings. It won’t be an airlift provided by the United States. It is a well-known biblical metaphor.

Jews will flee to a “place” to be safe from Satan. Earlier in the chapter, we are told that God will prepare it. The present popular pick is Petra. “Nourished” conveys the idea of health and prosperity.

“A time and times and half a time” is one of the three ways of describing the two three and one-half years of the seven year Great Tribulation. The other two are “One thousand two hundred and sixty days,” and “Forty-two months.”

God the Holy Spirit went to great lengths to establish that the Revelation is talking about a literal, not figurative, period.

One proponent of the figurative position says that the last three and one-half years of the Great Tribulation corresponds “with the exact time frame of the worst tribulation in Jewish history, the Jewish-Roman War (66-70AD).”

As awful as that period of history was for Israel, it did not last precisely three and one-half years. Jesus said, “Then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). Jesus went on to say,

Mat 24:29  “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from Heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Mat 24:30  Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in Heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory.
Mat 24:31  And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of Heaven to the other.”

Did anything remotely like that happen in 70AD? Has it happened at any point in history? No, it is future.

Rev 12:15  So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.

There are two possibilities concerning the “flood”:

Floods are a biblical metaphor for invasion. In Jeremiah 47:2, God describes the approaching Babylonian army by saying, “Behold, waters rise out of the north, And shall be an overflowing flood; They shall overflow the land and all that is in it, The city and those who dwell within; Then the men shall cry, And all the inhabitants of the land shall wail.”
The second possibility is that the devil does unleash a flood of water against those who are fleeing. In every excellent disaster film, there is a moment when the wave or the lava is about to reach the heroes as they run for their lives.

Rev 12:16  But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.

It wouldn’t be the first time in the history of Israel that God caused the ground to open and swallow opposition. However this is accomplished, it will be by divine interference and not by natural means.

Rev 12:17  And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

The TV Bruce Banner is famous for saying, “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” An “enraged” dragon is terrifying.

“The rest of her offspring” is believed by some scholars to refer to the 144,000 Jewish evangelists we met earlier in the Revelation. They don’t flee to safety because God sealed them, and they cannot be harmed.

Satan is a miserable failure in his campaign against them. Every one of the 144,000 survives to the end.

Another Bible gem is, “Who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be able to be described in those terms once my work on Earth ends.

The worst of times for Earth are coming in the subsequent chapters. So is Jesus.

The stunt was called “Heaven Sent.” Luke Aikins in 2016 jumped 25,000ft. from a plane without a parachute or wingsuit. The daredevil had to direct his body in free fall using only the air currents around him.

He wasn’t completely crazy. He laid out a high-tech 10,000-square-foot net to catch him.

I don’t want to push the analogy too far, but there are elements in Aikins’ chuteless jump similar to our walk with Jesus.

We walk by faith:

It isn’t blind faith; it isn’t ignorant faith; it isn’t reckless faith.
We aren’t jumping off of precipices tempting angels to save us.

We can, however, trust too much in parachutes.

Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). The alternative is to build your house on sand, storing up this world’s wealth in barns.

Take off worldly parachutes. You are “Heaven sent” to represent Jesus. The Lord is your net.

“Might as well jump.”

How To Restrain Your Dragon (Revelation 12:1-6)

The most recognizable brand logo in the United States is what?

Two thousand Americans who were asked chose the Apple icon.

Company logos are expensive and valuable:

Symantec paid $1.2m for a stylized checkmark in a circle. Symantec is the company that brought us Norton Anti-Virus.
The Nike Swoosh is worth $67b. The logo, not the company.

The genuinely great logos are symbols without words. Besides the Apple and the Swoosh, the Golden Arches and the Two-tailed Mermaid round out the top four.

Our text in the Revelation presents a spectacular sign.

Rev 12:1  Now a great sign appeared in Heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.
Rev 12:2  Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.
Rev 12:3  And another sign appeared in Heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.
Rev 12:4  His tail drew a third of the stars of Heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.

Anyone familiar with the Book of Genesis knows immediately what this image illustrates.
If you don’t see it, that’s OK. You will see it a few minutes into our study.

The spectacular sign is the ‘logo’ for Satan’s constant interference with God’s plan of salvation throughout human history.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Jesus Came Through Israel As Your Savior Despite Satan’s Continual Interference, and #2 Jesus Comes To Israel As Your Sovereign Despite Satan’s Continuing Interference.

#1 – Jesus Came Through Israel As Your Savior Despite Satan’s Continual Interference (v1-5)

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve defied God’s one undemanding request. Choosing self and Satan over God, they plunged creatures and creation into ruin.

Our merciful God, without hesitation, disclosed His plan to redeem creatures and restore creation. He said to Satan, “I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise [literally, crush] your head, And you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15).

Scholars call this statement the protoevangelium. It means the first Good News. The Bible Knowledge Commentary describes it this way:

God said there would be a perpetual struggle between satanic forces and mankind. It would be between Satan and the woman and their respective offspring or “seeds.” The “offspring” of the woman was Cain, then all humanity at large, and then Jesus Christ and those collectively in Him. The “offspring” of the serpent includes demons and anyone serving his kingdom of darkness, those whose “father” is the Devil (John 8:44). Satan would cripple mankind (“you shall bruise his heel”), but the Seed, Jesus Christ, would deliver the fatal blow (“He will [crush] your head”).

Another commentary said, “As the acorn contains the mighty oak, so these words contain the entire plan of salvation.”
English preacher Charles Simeon went even further calling this verse, “The sum and summary of the whole Bible.”

The “great sign” conveys the protoevangelium and its effect on the history of the world.

Rev 12:1  Now a great sign appeared in Heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.

The purpose of using a “sign” is to clarify, not confuse. The signs in the Revelation reveal, not conceal.

The signs are defined for us either in the book itself or elsewhere in the Bible. We will see an example of that in verse nine.

Our attention is drawn to the woman with the dragon antagonist.

If you have ever read the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis, you have met this woman.

Joseph said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me. So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?” (37:9-10).

The “sun and the moon” are Joesph’s parents, Jacob and Rachel.
The “eleven stars” are his eleven brothers, the patriarchs of eleven tribes of Israel.
Joseph is the twelfth star.

No other passage in the Bible contains this precise imagery.

The woman clothed with the sun, the moon, and the twelve stars is national Israel.

Rev 12:2  Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.

The “Seed” God spoke about in the Garden of Eden is the “Child” born to national Israel in verse two.

As the Bible narrative progresses through history, God continually narrows down the lineage of the promised Seed.

He would be born through Noah’s son Shem, by a descendant of Abraham, coming from the Tribe of Judah, and be in the line of King David. The Messiah can only be Jesus.

The “woman” is not a reference to Mary. Yes, she gave birth to Jesus. Notwithstanding that, if you drop down to verse seventeen, you read, “the rest of [the woman’s] offspring” flee from Satan during the Great Tribulation. This woman illustrates national Israel, not a particular Jewish mom like Mary.

Her “labor and pain” in childbirth is an understatement of the continuous persecution against Jews throughout history.

Enter the dragon:

Rev 12:3  And another sign appeared in Heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.

No need to guess at the identity of the dragon. In verse nine we read, “The great dragon… that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan.”

In chapter twenty we will read, “The dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan” (20:2).

He is “great” because he has authority over hoards of malevolent supernatural beings and has been granted limited rule over Earth.

He is “fiery.” The word is pyro. Fire-breathing dragons most certainly existed at one time. Satan is similar to them in terms of the destructive lies he spews out of his mouth.

“Red” denotes Satan’s bloodlust. He was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44), and he continues to kill.

Don’t look to The Rolling Stones for theology, but when Mick Jagger sings Symphony for the Devil, he recognizes the truth that Satan has been at work behind history to rob, kill, and destroy.

The “heads,” “horns,” and “diadems” will be explained fully in chapter seventeen. Here is a preview:

The “seven heads” with “seven diadems” are seven successive kingdoms in biblical history that persecute Israel. (1)Egypt, (2)Assyria, (3)Babylon, (4)Persia, (5)Greece, (6)Rome, and (7)a future kingdom with ties to the Roman Empire that will exist during the Great Tribulation.

The “ten horns” elaborate on the seventh future kingdom. The prophet Daniel wrote, “The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this [final] kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings” (7:24).
The one who rises from this future kingdom and subdues three kings is the antichrist.

History’s logo contains this series of world kingdoms that persecuted and will persecute national Israel.

Company logos often contain additional information as you look closely:

Look closely at the FedEx logo and you will see in the space between the E and the X an arrow pointing forward, suggesting speedy delivery.
In the Tostitos logo, the dot over the “i” is a bowl of salsa. The two “t’s” are people, and the yellow triangle in between them is a chip. It’s represents people coming together to share a tasty snack.
The great sign of the Revelation is complex but simple to understand.

Rev 12:4  His tail drew a third of the stars of Heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.

“Stars” is a designation used in the Bible for angels. In the Book of Job, we read of a time “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (38:7). It is parallelism in which “stars” and “sons of God” mean the same thing.

Satan drawing “a third of the stars of Heaven” is where we get the idea that a third of the created angels joined him in his rebellion against God.

I am aware that it is popular today to claim that this verse is not enough to prove that a third of the angels fell with the Devil. It is enough. In verse nine, we will read that Satan “was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

There are many biblical examples of the dragon seeking to devour the child:

Cain’s murder of Abel (Genesis 4:8). First John 3:12 says, “Cain… was of that wicked one, and slew his brother.” When Cain killed Abel, Satan was attempting to exterminate the line through which the Savior would be born.
The marriages of fallen angels with human females leading to the birth of Nephilim giants (Genesis 6:1-4) was a strategy to interfere with the birth of the child. These unions were corrupting human DNA to destroy humanity. It came close to success in that only eight souls entered the Ark.
Pharaoh’s order to murder the male children in Egypt (Exodus 1:15-22).
The attempted murders of David by King Saul and others (e.g., First Samuel 18:10-11).
Queen Athaliah’s attempt to destroy the royal seed (Second Chronicles 22:10).
Haman’s attempt to slaughter the Jews recorded in the Book of Esther.
King Herod’s order to murder the male children of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16).

Anti-semitism is prevalent in history after the completion of the Bible:

The Crusader army swept through Jewish communities looting, raping, and massacring Jews as they went. Thus was born what historians call the pogrom – the organized massacre of a targeted group of people.
In the middle of the fourteenth century, Jews were accused of spreading the bubonic plague. In Germany and Austria, it is estimated that 100,000 Jews were burned alive.
Martin Luther wrote a pamphlet in 1545 entitled The Jews and Their Lies, claiming that Jews thirsted for Christian blood and urging the killing of Jews. The Nazis reprinted it in 1935.

Whether it’s the Holocaust or Hamas, anti-Semitism is a theme running through human history.

The decisive satanic interference was the murder of Jesus on the Cross. Or was it?

Little did Satan understand that the Cross was the instrument that would “crush [Satan’s] head.”

Rev 12:5  She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.

The “rod of iron” belongs to the promised Messiah. Psalm 2:9 says of Him, “You shall break them [the rebellious nations] with a rod of iron.”

Jesus is the “male Child,” the promised Seed of the woman. The heavenly sign contains His life and ministry, His death and resurrection, when it shows Him “caught up to God and His throne.”

It’s a logo with motion. Remember those dot-drawings that you stare at until an image comes into focus? Or maybe the living pictures in The Daily Prophet newspaper in Harry Potter.

Of late, there has been an attempt to include the church in this catching up. It’s true that the word used for “caught up” is harpazō, from which we get rapture. That observation is not significant:

The Bible uses harpazō to describe the snatching away of Philip after dealing with the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:39).
The Bible uses harpazō to describe the catching up of the apostle Paul to Heaven (Second Corinthians 12:2&4).

The great sign is about national Israel.

I’ve told you the story of my Tae Kwon Do days.

A Korean champion, Master Pak bu Kwon, visited our dojo. I had the privilege to spar with him. I couldn’t touch him. What was worse, he would tell me what he was about to do on offense, but there was nothing I could do to block him.

Satan knows what God is doing. He can’t win on offense or defense. His days are numbered.

#2 – Jesus Comes To Israel As Your Sovereign Despite Satan’s Continuing Interference (v6)

FailArmy is a guilty pleasure. It is a YouTube channel that purports to be the world’s #1 source for epic fail videos. For instance, the guy who tried to back out a riding lawnmower from his pick-up. The wheels go off the ramps causing the mower to fall and tip over on him.

Satan is the undisputed leader of the most epic FailArmy of all time.

Despite his strength and strategies, in the four thousand or so years from Adam until the first coming of our Lord, he and his army had one job. They failed to accomplish their primary objective.

Rev 12:6  Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

Review is more necessary in the Revelation than in any other book of the Bible. I’ll be brief.

Jesus took a scroll from His Father and began to open its seven seals one at a time.
Opening the first five seals revealed things to happen on Earth during the first one thousand two hundred and sixty days of the Great Tribulation.
The sixth seal was a preview of things to come with opening the seventh seal.
The opening of the seventh seal revealed seven angels with seven trumpets.
The blowing of the first six trumpets revealed things to happen on Earth during the final one thousand two hundred and sixty days of the Great Tribulation.
The blowing of the seventh trumpet prompted the phenomenal proleptic proclamation, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
Before Jesus returns in His Second Coming to “reign forever and ever,” seven additional angels will pour out upon the inhabitants of Earth seven bowls of the wrath of God.
When the angel pours out bowl number seven we read “It is done” (16:17).

One more thing to bear in mind. The Great Tribulation lasts precisely seven years. It is divided into two halves that are variously described as:

Three-and-one-half years.
A time times and half a time.
One thousand two hundred and sixty days.

It is divided in half by the antichrist defiling the rebuilt Jewish Temple when he demands to be worshipped in an event called “The Abomination of Desolation.”

The action in verse six occurs during the second half of the Great Tribulation.
In what we call “The Little Apocalypse” for its brevity while covering this same material, Jesus said:

Mat 24:15  “Therefore when you see the ‘ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),
Mat 24:16  “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Mat 24:17  Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.
Mat 24:18  And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.
Mat 24:19  But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
Mat 24:20  And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
Mat 24:21  For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.

There seems to be a specific “place prepared by God” where Jews will be kept safe. The popular guess is modern-day Petra, the famous rock city of Edom.

Petra is located sixty to one hundred miles to the south of Jerusalem in a mountain chain. The site remained unknown to the Western world until Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt discovered it in 1812.

There is a story that evangelist W.E. Blackstone spent $8000 in the 1920s to have copies of the New Testament and Gospel tracts placed at Petra so that Jews who flee there will recognize Jesus as their Savior at the final hour.

Someone will stock Petra, or a location like it that is within the geography Jesus mentioned.

I used to think that the ‘S’ on his chest stood for Superman. In recent years we’ve been told it is the Kryptonian symbol for Hope.

The great sign, history’s logo, is Hope on steroids. God will bring His plan to its glorious completion.

Meanwhile, humans suffer. It is a problem we often discuss since it touches each of us, and it is the primary reason nonbelievers offer for rejecting God.

What about God’s suffering?

In the Garden of Eden, while the wound of their willful disobedience was fresh, God promised to come and save us. His plan, really the only possible plan, the protoevangelium, would cause Him suffering on a scale we cannot begin to gauge.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem because they rejected Him as their Messiah, thereby refusing His offer of the kingdom. Instead of enjoying blessing, they would be overrun by Rome, have their city and Temple destroyed, and be dispersed without a home in hostile nations all over the Earth.

If that tragedy evoked tears, how much more does the total suffering of every person ever conceived for whom God desires salvation?

God determined to save us by the only means possible. He would become a man through the virgin birth. He would be fully God and fully man, the unique God-man, to substitute Himself for us in a psychologically and physically vicious Crucifixion, abandoned by all but one of His apostles, after having been betrayed by one of them and denied by another.

Jesus knows suffering, AND He knows your pain and suffering.

Love hurts. Nevertheless, while we were yet sinners, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to save us.

He gave His life, O what more could He give
O how He loves you O how He loves me
O how He loves you and me

One King To Rule Them All, One King To Bind Them, One King To Bring Them All And In His Likeness Find Them

World domination. Who knew it could be so funny?

✏ Marvin the Martian wanted to destroy Earth because it interfered with his view of Venus. We owe Bugs Bunny an outstanding debt of gratitude.

✏ Mad-scientist Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz oversees Evil, Incorporated. He is bent on dominating what he calls the Tri-State Area. Agent P, aka, Perry the Platypus, foils his ‘inators’ every time.

✏ The most extraordinary cartoon menace is The Brain, a genius lab mouse whose genes have been spliced. One of his brilliant schemes for taking over the world was creating Brainania, a fictional island nation, in an attempt to exploit the United States for billions of dollars in foreign aid.

If only world domination or destruction was comical.

Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Attila the Hun, Charlemagne, Cyrus the Great, Napoleon, the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire, Adolf Hitler, and Khan Noonien Singh. There was nothing funny in any of their incursions.

One Man will rule the world.

He is the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Look at verse fifteen: “The world’s kingdom has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will rule forever and ever” (ISV).

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 When You Hear The Seventh Trumpet Our God Reigns, and #2 When You Hear The Seventh Trumpet Our God Returns.

#1 – When You Hear The Seventh Trumpet Our God Reigns (v15)

Éschatos in the Greek language means last. The study of Bible prophecy is called Eschatology. Like any discipline of study, Eschatology has its vocabulary. Dispensationalism and parousia are terms you don’t use every day.

Proleptic is a word common in Eschatology. It describes a future event as if it has already taken place. A character in a drama might address someone and say, “You’re a dead man.”

Jesus’ rule over the world’s kingdom is represented as already having taken place even though it remains in the future.

Rev 11:15  Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in Heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”

The apostle John was in Heaven to receive the Revelation of Jesus Christ. A call went out from Heaven to every creature for someone worthy to take a scroll out of the right hand of God the Father.

No one was found worthy… Except one!

Jesus took the scroll. The scroll was sealed with seven seals. As Jesus opened each seal, the Great Tribulation advanced upon Earth.

The first five seals proceeded at a relatively slow pace bringing plagues upon the inhabitants of Earth from the natural world and supernatural creatures.
When the sixth seal was opened, we had a preview of what was contained in the seventh seal.
When the seventh seal was opened, we were made aware that seven angels had seven trumpets to sound.

The sounding of the seventh trumpet is still not the end. We will see seven additional angels who pour out seven bowls of the last of God’s wrath upon those who inhabit Earth. Then Jesus will return.

We won’t see the bowls until chapter sixteen. The chronological action is paused to reveal additional information and insight about events transpiring on Earth during the Great Tribulation. One commentator calls them “underplots.”

“Loud voices… in Heaven” make the proleptic proclamation. I love the drama in all this. I envision the inhabitants of Heaven in great joy chanting, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”

I’m not a big fan of over-exuberance. It’s overdone. This chant is a once-in-a-creation declaration that ought to inspire over over-exuberance.

You’ve been paying attention and are wondering why in quoting verse fifteen I have said both “The kingdoms of this world,” plural, and “The kingdom,” singular. The singular is the preferred translation.

It better communicates the extent of Jesus’ kingship. Nations and kingdoms (with a small ‘k’) will exist on Earth. Jesus rules them all from Jerusalem. To paraphrase the Brits, “The Sun never sets on the Son of God.”

“Kingdom” refers to the reign and rule of the entire Earth that God intended to be under man’s stewardship. Adam and Eve forfeited they’re stewardship for a fig. Satan became “the god of this world” (Second Corinthians 4:4) and “the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working [as a ruling king] in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).

How did it come to this? One scholar said,

In the Garden [of Eden], one can see a perfect kingdom state that man was intended to enjoy for all eternity, but listening to the enemy of the King, Satan, man rebelled against the King and forsook His righteous rule. The just King threw the rebels out of the Garden denouncing their citizenship with its rights and privileges. This rebellion of pseudo-independence lead to mankind becoming a rogue city-state. All of history is then the story of the King humbling Himself to reconcile this rebellious rogue faction of earth back into His Kingdom.

Jesus humbled Himself to enter our world as a man. As the God-man, He died on the Cross. He arose from the dead, thereby defeating sin and death and the devil. It is why He uniquely can open the seals and redeem humanity, restoring creation in the process.

Jesus will establish His Kingdom on Earth for one thousand years. We will see the Millennial Kingdom in chapter twenty. After the thousand years are finished, He will rule over new heavens and a new Earth forever and ever.

If you are looking for a way to start a conversation about Eschatology, try this. The next time someone asks, “How are you?” tell them you are proleptic. It should open the door to a sympathetic follow-up question.

#2 – When You Hear The Seventh Trumpet Our God Returns (v16-19)

Israel was familiar with trumpets. Trumpeters trumpeted for many purposes:

To assemble people
To give direction to people
To alert people to coming danger or judgment
To celebrate holy days and sacred events
To direct troop movements
To signal an announcement or proclamation

In his masterful chapter on the resurrection and rapture of the church, the apostle Paul writes, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet… the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (First Corinthians 15:52).

We be humble Gentiles easily confused by trumpets.

The “last trumpet” of the Church Age is not the seventh trumpet in the Great Tribulation. The two events are separated by at least seven years.

The last trumpet of the Church Age resurrects and raptures the bride of Jesus before the Great Tribulation.
The last trumpet in the Great Tribulation releases God’s final wrath upon those who inhabit Earth, preparing the way for Jesus to return from Heaven with us.

Rev 11:16  And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God,

Nowhere are we told the identity of the twenty-four elders. Some suggestions have more credibility than others, but they are all speculation.

The elders could be human beings who represent the church. My best guess is that they are created supernatural beings, probably an order of angels.

God has supernatural beings around Him.

The Old Testament describes what some call a “Divine Council” or “Divine Assembly” of supernatural beings:

Psalm 82:1 says that “God takes His stand in the divine assembly; among the divine beings He renders judgment” (ISV).

Psalm 89 asks, “Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared.”
One translation of Deuteronomy 32:8 reads, “When the High God gave the nations their stake, gave them their place on Earth, He put each of the peoples within boundaries under the care of divine guardians” (MSG).

One of the commentaries gave two solid reasons to think they are probably not human:

“Throughout the [Revelation] they are distinguished from the saints” (7:13-14; 14:3; 19:4-8).

“They are seated on their thrones already, but humans will not be so positioned until some point in the future” (20:4).

It makes more biblical sense that a Divine Council occupy these thrones. It’s anyone’s guess.

We’re the bride of Christ and are probably in the bride’s room getting ready to return with Him.

Rev 11:17  saying: “We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.

The heartfelt criticism many have against God is that He doesn’t stop bad things from happening. Far from being thanked, men revile God for His apparent lack of involvement and concern.

Just the opposite is true. We were in Adam when he sinned. God was with Adam in the Garden, promising to redeem us and restore Earth though the price for Him would be dear.

He so loved the world that He sent Jesus to suffer and die in our place. Not only has God done something about sin, death, and Satan. He conquered them in making the ultimate sacrifice and did so to save the very people who revile Him.

It is a testament to God’s compassion that He has held our rebellious planet together while He providentially worked out His plan to “reign forever and ever.”

Rev 11:18  The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come…

The Bible is its own best commentary. Psalm Two is a better commentary than I can provide.

Psa 2:1  Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?
Psa 2:2  The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
Psa 2:3  “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.”
Psa 2:4  He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision.
Psa 2:5  Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure:
Psa 2:6  “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.”

Mankind rebelled. God responded with mercy and grace. He took His wrath against sin upon Himself for our sake. The Great Tribulation is a time when “He shall speak to [mankind] in His wrath.” The plagues and the judgments are God saying, “Repent and be saved.”

Rev 11:18 …And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, And those who fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those who destroy the earth.”

The prophets and saints of the Old Testament do not receive their glorified physical I-can-live-in-Heaven bodies until the Lord returns. The rewarding here has to do with them.

Don’t worry. We will be rewarded, too, and earlier than these guys. Our rewarding occurs after the resurrection and rapture of the church.
We will have our rewards when we return from Heaven to Earth with Jesus.

“And those who fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those who destroy the earth.” Jesus described His Second Coming as a time of separating who He called “sheep” or “goats,” meaning believers or nonbelievers.

Believers who survive the Great Tribulation will become the first settlers of the Millennial Kingdom. They will remain in their human bodies.
Nonbelievers who survive the Great Tribulation will be consigned to Hades to await their final eternal judgment.

This declaration of the final judgment comes with time to repent. In wrath God remembers mercy and seeks to save. He keeps warning that a day is coming when all offers to be saved will be off the table. But until then, He is not willing that any should perish.

“Those who destroy the Earth” are the main antagonists in the Great Tribulation, e.g., the devil, the beast, the false prophet, etc.

Rev 11:19  Then the Temple of God was opened in Heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His Temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.

The earthly Tabernacle, and later the Jerusalem Temples, were designed to illustrate God’s great salvation. The penalty for sin is death. In the Temple, a sacrificed lamb could die in your stead. After the lamb was slain, it was up to the priest to perform what was necessary as your mediator.

It illustrated that Jesus is the Lamb, sacrificed in your stead. He is also the Priest, your Mediator in your relationship with God.

The Tabernacle and Temples were copies of a Temple in Heaven. It served to illustrate God’s great salvation to the inhabitants of Heaven.

There will be a Temple on Earth during the Millennial Kingdom. It, too, will illustrate God’s great salvation for the generations born during the Kingdom Age.

Thomas Ice is a commentator we heartily recommend. He said:

The purpose for a Temple throughout Scripture has been to establish a location upon Earth for the presence of God that reveals through its ritual God’s great holiness. God’s plan for Israel, His earthly people, includes a relation to them through a Temple. Currently the church is God’s spiritual Temple made of living stones until the rapture. The Millennium will return history to a focus upon Israel and will continue to be a time in which sin will be present upon the earth. Thus, God will include a new Temple, a new priesthood, a new Law, etc., at this future time because He will be present in Israel and still desires to teach that holiness is required to approach Him. This is contrasted with the fact that no Temple will exist in eternity (Revelation 21:22) because God and the Lamb are its Temple and there will be no sin in Heaven, thus no need for Temple ritual.

We think of the Temple as a massive complex. Its essence was a 675sq.ft. Sanctuary that was initially a portable tent. It consists of two chambers, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, separated by a thick curtain.

With its separate lid called the Mercy Seat, the Ark of the Covenant was the only article of furniture in the Holy of Holies. It was the place on Earth God met with Israel through the representation of the High Priest.

The Ark disappeared from history by the time of the Babylonian Captivity in the sixth century BC. The Holy of Holies in the Second Temple was an empty chamber. When Roman General Pompey conquered Jerusalem around 63BC, he demanded the privilege of entering the Holy of Holies. When he did, he came out saying that he could not understand what all the interest was about the sanctuary when it was only an empty room.

Where is the lost Ark?

Jeremiah may have hidden the Ark in a cave in Mt. Nebo before the Babylonians looted the Temple.

Others suggest the Ark is hidden in a cave near the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Temple Institute in Jerusalem’s Old City is an Ultra-Orthodox organization dedicated to rebuilding the Jewish Temple. The last time I checked, they say the Ark is under the Temple Mount and will be found when the Temple is rebuilt.

Another theory is that the Ark was taken from ancient Jerusalem in the days of King Solomon. While there are numerous variations of the story, the common thread centers on Menelik, a son fathered by King Solomon born to the Queen of Sheba. Ancient Sheba corresponds to Ethiopia. While this union is not mentioned in the biblical account of the meeting between these two, it has a long tradition in Ethiopia. In an entry preserved in the Ethiopian royal chronicles, Menelik brought the Ark to his country for safekeeping.

The Ethiopians insist they have the Ark and will bring it to the Messiah when He sets up His Kingdom. Interestingly we read in Zephaniah 3:10, “From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshipers, The daughter of My dispersed ones, Shall bring My offering” [i.e., the Ark].

We may never find the Ark:

Jeremiah 3:16 “Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,” says the LORD, “that they will say no more, ‘The Ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore.’ ”

The Second Temple stood for over 500 years without the Ark. Building the Tribulation Temple is not dependent upon discovering the lost Ark.

The main import of seeing the Ark of the Covenant in Heaven is the word “covenant.” Its revealed presence reminds Israel that God is keeping His covenants with them. God made unconditional promises to Abraham, Moses, and David. He has not, will not, can not abandon them. All Israel is saved through the Great Tribulation.

Meanwhile, on Earth “there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.” It is the prelude to the finale.

Summarizing these verses, one commentator wrote,

Apart from the outpourings of the bowls, which occur in rapid succession, there is little chronological movement from this point until chapter nineteen and the Second Coming of Christ. Events and situations are now introduced which are concurrent with the seals and the trumpets. These serve to emphasize the dramatic climax of this period in the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We are proleptic. We live in the present, knowing God’s prophecies and promises of God are a certainty.

You are sitting in the mortgage-free building of Calvary Hanford.
The apostle Paul said, “[God] raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).

We are to represent in the present what we will be in the future. It is impossible to do that, apart from yielding to the indwelling Holy Spirit. With him, you can do all things through Christ Who strengthens you.

We Are Two Reviled And Preachy Guys (Revelation 11:1-14)

It was a $125m error.

On September 23, 1999, NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter crashed into the red planet. After an investigation it was determined that a piece of software had calculated the force of the thrusters in imperial measurements instead of metric.

In 2001 the Los Angeles Zoo lent Clarence, a 75-year-old Galapagos tortoise, to Moorpark College. The school would need to build an enclosure.

They asked how big the tortoise was. The zoo told folks at Moorpark College that Clarence weighed 250. They assumed Clarence weighed 250 pounds. Clarence weighed 250 kilograms, or roughly 551 pounds. Clarence escaped but happily he did not get far.

The United States is the last nation to use imperial units. The solution is obvious. The rest of the world should switch.

John is called upon to take measurements.

Rev 11:1  Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the Temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.”

Measuring the “Temple” is straightforward enough.
Measuring “those who worship there” adds an illustrative element.

As we work through the text, we will do a little measuring of our own. I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 God The Holy Spirit Is Your Measure, and #2 God The Holy Spirit Is Yours Without Measure.

#1 – God The Holy Spirit Is Your Measure (v1-2)

God the Holy Spirit is in verse four where we read, “These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.” The words come directly from the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah. The prophet saw “a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left” (v2-3).

Lampstands with a constant supply of oil illustrate the unlimited resource of God the Holy Spirit available to the Jews who had returned from captivity in Babylon to rebuild their Temple.

Zechariah would be told, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts” (v6).

Knowing that John was alluding to Zechariah, we ‘see’ God the Holy Spirit at work.

Rev 11:1  Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the Temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.

One first century system of measure was the “reed.”The “reed” given to John would be about 10’ long by our way of measuring.

Daniel and Jesus confirm that there will be a Temple in the Great Tribulation. They both refer to a particular event that occurs in the inner chamber called the Holy of Holies. The man we popularly call the antichrist will enter it and defile it by proclaiming himself ‘god’ and demanding worship. His actions are ominously described as “the Abomination of Desolation.”

A Muslim Temple, Dome of the Rock, is said to be built on the site of the Holy of Holies. Does it have to be destroyed for the Jews to build their Temple?

Not necessarily. In 1969 there was construction work in the vicinity of the Dome of the Rock. Dr. Ze’ev Yeivin went to the site and made some drawings of an exposed ancient wall.


Not long after, Dr. Asher Kaufman identified the section of wall seen by Dr. Yeivin as the eastern wall of the Temple’s Court of the Women. Kaufman concluded that the site of the Temple is not where we suppose.

The Dome of the Rock is not on the site of the Holy of Holies.

Other sites have been proposed based on more recent research. Both structures could coexist.

Remember, too, that the Jewish Temple consists of two small chambers called the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. Together they measure 675sq feet. A makeshift Temple, e.g., a tent, could quickly be erected. The Temple Institute in Jerusalem has manufactured all the implements needed to begin sacrifices, and they have trained the priests.

The measuring includes the “altar.” Since Jews could gather there, this must be the brazen altar outside the Temple upon which animals are sacrificed. Animal sacrifice will occur during a portion of the Great Tribulation.

Merely bringing a sacrifice does not indicate that someone is a believer. They may be going through the motions, performing empty rituals. Thus John was told to “measure… those who worship there.”

Were they sheep? Or were they goats?

This measuring of Temple, altar, and worshippers leave no doubt that there will be a Temple in Jerusalem during the Great Tribulation. To us, that information is interesting. To Jews, it is awesome. John wrote after the Romans destroyed the Temple. It was in ruin and they were dispersed. The hope of a return to Israel and worshipping in Jerusalem – huge.

Rev 11:2  But leave out the court which is outside the Temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.

“Given to the Gentiles” indicates a time of cooperation. It will be short-lived. For a period of “forty-two months,” Jerusalem will fall into Gentile control and Jews will be a target of persecution.

Forty-two months is three-and-one-half years and it is one thousand two hundred and sixty days. The Great Tribulation lasts for seven years separated into a first half and a second half by the Abomination of Desolation that occurs at the mid-point. Jesus described it this way:

Mat 24:15  “Therefore when you see the ‘ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),
Mat 24:16  “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Mat 24:17  Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.
Mat 24:18  And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.
Mat 24:19  But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
Mat 24:20  And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
Mat 24:21  For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

The opening of the first five seals occurs slowly in the first half of the Great Tribulation.
The opening of the sixth seal is a preview of things to come in the second half of the Great Tribulation.
The opening of the seventh seal releases the seven trumpets and the seven bowls coming at an accelerated pace in the second half of the Great Tribulation. Jesus compared it to a woman’s labor pains.

We have the Word of God as our measure for life and godliness. We have indwelling us God the Holy Spirit to use God’s Word to measure our beliefs and behaviors:

Thanks to the Word of God, we know what to think and do, and we know what not to think or do.
Thanks to God the Holy Spirit, we can think and do what we ought to.

We can measure some things by verses. A common need for measuring is when presented with behavior that strikes us as questionable. We can measure it by a verse like First Corinthians 10:23, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.”
Our measurement is the “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit” standard.

#2 – God The Holy Spirit Is Yours Without Measure (v3-14)

Jesus is the main actor throughout this great drama. There are multiple supporting roles; an ensemble cast. John introduces “My Two Witnesses.”

Rev 11:3  And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”

Jehovah will empower two prophets as special witnesses.

They are the true & unique Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“Sackcloth” was a kind of uniform for Old Testament prophets of woe. It was uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable circumstances are often necessary for the Gospel to be brought into focus.

It’s pretty clear that these guys prophesy in at least part of the second half of the Great Tribulation. They may start sometime in the first half and go for “one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” It the same number of days as either half of the Great Tribulation, but that doesn’t mean their days of ministry can’t overlap both halves.

Rev 11:4  These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.

More Zechariah. The Jews had stalled in the rebuilding of their Temple. God promised to provide His Holy Spirit to empower the two leaders, Zerubbabel and Joshua. He said, “These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth” (4:14).

The connecting of the lamps to the trees is intended to depict a constant, spontaneous, automatic supply of oil flowing into the lamps. Better than cold-fusion.

Their ministry looked forward to, and was a figure of, the ministry of the Two Witnesses of the Revelation. Their light is the prophecy they share and it will be empowered without measure by God the Holy Spirit.

Rev 11:5  And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner.

Fire is a favorite superhero power: The Human Torch, Ghost Rider, Phoenix, and Drew Barrymore (in Firestarter).

There is that scene in every superhero movie where the police or military shoot the super bad guy only to have their bullets bounce off. He then kills them in some horrific manner. The Two Witnesses originated that genre.

They give an entirely new meaning to being “on fire for the Lord.”

Rev 11:6  These have power to shut Heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.

Right here is an excellent verse to launch into the question, “Who are those guys?”
We are not told who they are.

It’s telling of our curiosity that right after commentators admit the identity of the Two Witnesses cannot be known, they dedicate most of their comments deciding who they are.

I’ll satisfy our curiosity, but only a little. The casting call includes the following:

On account of the miracles performed, they seem like Elijah and Moses. Another point in that column is that Elijah and Moses met with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration to discuss the End Times.

A lot of folks believe that the Old Testament patriarch Enoch, not Moses, will join Elijah. God took both to Heaven without ever dying. The ancient church, including Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Hippolytus, was consistent in identifying the two witnesses as Enoch and Elijah.

A tiny minority of scholars say they are Zerubbabel and Joshua based on a super-literal reading of Zechariah.

They could be two ordinary believers that God anoints. I like this more-and-more because it is just like the Lord to raise up nobodies.

I like not knowing.

It is better to stay a “whosoever” than to make a name for yourself. (You-so-ever?).

Rev 11:7  When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.

Some ministries have a definite, even abrupt, ending. The ending can seem a defeat. The important thing is that the Holy Spirit leads it.

“The beast” is mentioned for the first time. Critics of the literal, futurist approach to the Revelation might ask you this trick question: “How many times is the antichrist mentioned in the Revelation?” The answer is, “None.” This same person, however, is called the beast thirty-six times. He has a bunch of names in the Bible: Man of sin, man of destruction, the little horn, the Assyrian, etc., etc.

“Make war against them, overcome them, and kill them” describes an extended campaign. We can only wonder how many special operatives or squads or units or armies are incinerated. The Two Witnesses will be indestructible until their ministry ends.

The Two Witnesses had the Holy Spirit without measure. They were indestructible and performed amazing acts. Having the Holy Spirit without measure did not save them from martyrdom.

Having the Holy Spirit without measure doesn’t mean you will do the miraculous. Especially in the Church Age in which we are living.

Rev 11:8  And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

Not lying in state to honor them, though they deserve nothing less. Lying “in the street,” lying in shame.

Jerusalem is the city where “our Lord was crucified.” If words mean anything at all, this is literal, not symbolic.

Jerusalem is likened to “Sodom and Egypt” due to its spiritual condition in the Great Tribulation. It will be a place where people are held captive by the unbridled immorality of their flesh.

Rev 11:9  Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves.

How could “peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations” simultaneously for “three-and-a-half days” see the Two Witnesses? They couldn’t. Not until almost the mid-1960s.

John predicted the advance of instantaneous global telecommunications technology. John was a prophet accurately predicting the future of mankind.

This book is a prophecy not an apocalyptic allegory.

They would “not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves” means they did not intend to bury them but to keep them on display. Think of big game hunters and their taxidermied prey.

Rev 11:10  And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

We’ve all seen footage of protestors dancing in the streets, burning effigies, and shouting “Death” to their enemy. (Usually the United States for using imperial units).

What would be an appropriate “gift?” How will they celebrate? Will Hallmark have time to produce cards? It’s sick, indicative of the values of the inhabitants of Earth.

The Good News of salvation is not a “torment.” It’s the greatest news anyone can give you. You can have your sins forgiven, be a new creation, and live forever in a blissful eternity with a glorified body. To John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, “Tell me more, tell me more.”

Rev 11:11  Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.

Can you imagine being in the queue, shuffling past the bodies, when suddenly they are raised from the dead? Heart attack.

Rev 11:12  And they heard a loud voice from Heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they ascended to Heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.

These Eternals, in glorified bodies, ascend to Heaven similar to Jesus in His ascension. The inhabitants of Earth don’t have much time to reflect because,

Rev 11:13  In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of Heaven.

These are precise numbers, not symbolic. God required a “tenth,” a tithe, from Israel. Once the damage is calculated, and they realize it is a tithe, the people will know that the “earthquake” was the hand of God.

“Seven thousand people” can be translated as “seven thousand names of men.” These are men of some renown.

The likelihood is that world dignitaries are gathered together as representatives of their nations at this horrible antiChristmas. They will be killed, probably in the earthquake and maybe all in one location.

Many in Jerusalem repent and turn to God. Robert Thomas writes, “It comes here as an encouragement just before the last blast of the seventh trumpet falls. Since the inhabitants of Jerusalem will be mostly Jewish, this could very well be the future repentance of Israel that will accompany Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.”

Rev 11:14  The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.

The second of three “woe[s]” that is “coming quickly” is the blast of the seventh trumpet in the very next verse.

There are three Persons in the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit is a Person.

Never treat God the Holy Spirit as if He were something rather than Someone.

It is biblical to “ask” for more of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised, “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
It’s OK to call it a fresh filling or pouring out upon us.

The Bible uses those as illustrations of the result of yielding to Him. We shouldn’t come away from them thinking that He is a commodity, like the Force in Star Wars.

It might help to think of our relationship to God the Holy Spirit in romantic terms.

Listen to this stanza lifted from a love poem by American poet Sara Teasdale:

Oh plunge me deep in love – put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind

She compared an all-consuming passionate relationship to a deep plunge into depths of water that would overwhelm her senses of sight and sound. It isn’t a ‘something’ she could tap into; it was ‘someone’ to love.

Asking for God the Holy Spirit, asking to be filled afresh, is a plunge into a Person, not a request for resources.

When I am with my wife, and she wants to relate and talk, I can pay full attention or no attention. I’m usually somewhere in between. I don’t experience her as much as I could. I’m not immersed in her.

God the Holy Spirit is yours without measure. He is always paying attention to you, always ready for you to take the plunge.

BitterSweet Talkin’ Guy (Revelation 10:1-11)

Adele Edwards, an otherwise normal Florida mother of five children, has been eating the foam inside cushions for more than twenty years. She keeps pieces of foam in her purse to snack on throughout the day.

Last year she ate twelve couches.

People with pica compulsively eat items that have no nutritional value. They might eat relatively harmless items.

Or they might eat potentially dangerous items, like flakes of dried paint or pieces of metal.

A 62-year-old Frenchman used his stomach as a piggy bank over the course of ten years, swallowing 350 francs and Euro coins totaling $650. His family said he would steal coins when he visited others’ houses to save for a snack. He needed every bit of it, and lots more, for the surgery to have them removed.

There are two Old Testament Bible characters who ate scrolls.

Jeremiah said, “Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts” (15:16).

Ezekiel wrote, “Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll. And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness (3:1-3).

The apostle John ate a scroll.

“Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter” (v10).

Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and John did not have prophet-pica.

These prophets ate God’s Word to strengthen them for their service.

John was at a crucial moment in the Revelation. He was about to hear the blast of the seventh trumpet. It will release seven angels to pour out upon the inhabitants of Earth seven bowls of the last of God’s wrath in rapid succession. He was told, “there should be delay no longer” (v6). It makes sense he get some nourishment for the grand finale.

Before the finale, however, there will be a slight delay: John “must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings” (v11). It makes sense he get some nourishment to finish strong.

Focus, John, and finish strong.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 A Steady Intake Of God’s Word Helps You Focus, and #2 A Steady Intake Of God’s Word Helps You Finish.

#1 – A Steady Intake Of God’s Word Helps You Focus (v1-7)

Monster promises you it will Unleash the beast.

Red Bull Gives you wings.

Other energy drinks promise Go full throttle or go home, AMP yourself, Enjoy the power, and The massive hit that improves you a bit.

We can relate to times during the day when a hit of energy can help our focus.

God’s Word is compared to many foods. Milk, honey, bread, and meat are the most common.

Jesus frequently employed food as an illustration: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

Jesus defeated the devil’s wilderness temptations by quoting the Old Testament, “man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

God’s Word provides 100% of our complete spiritual nourishment.

Chapter nine ended with the blowing of the sixth trumpet. We are understandably excited for the seventh and final blast. Not so fast.

Rev 10:1  I saw still another mighty angel coming down from Heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.

We don’t know how many angels can dance on the end of a pin, but we can speculate that angels are on pins and needles waiting for the resurrection and rapture of the church. Once we are gone, their workload increases, and they are excited for it.

We’ve been suggesting that the things John sees are like a dramatic performance.

Costumes and wardrobe make an important contribution to any dramatic performance.

This “mighty angel” is arrayed with impressive clothing and accessories befitting his mission.

“Clothed with a cloud” is reminiscent of the cloud of the glory of God that guided and protected Israel during their Exodus from Egypt.

The “rainbow” is reminiscent of the covenant God made with Noah after the global flood.

A glowing face communicated that, like Moses, the mighty angel had recently been in the presence of God.

A “pillar of fire” was over the camp of Israel at night.

More important than trying to nail down each symbol to one meaning is the big picture idea that the mighty angel was dressed for his part.

Every provision is made by God to fulfill His plan of redemption to the most minute detail.

In Christ, we have outfits to choose from:

We are the bride of Jesus and have opportunity to adorn our wedding garments.

We have the whole armor of God to stand against our enemy.

We are commanded to “put on Christ.”

Bottom line: God equips you for your service. In Him, you lack nothing that is necessary.

Rev 10:2  He had a little book open in his hand.

Theories abound as to the contents of this “little book” (a scroll). We are not told, therefore we cannot know. The import of it is that it will be given John to eat. Whatever it contains is nourishment for him to focus and finish the work.

Rev 10:2  He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land,

Whether this mighty angel was huge or regular sized is debated. John will approach him and take the little scroll out of his hand. He can’t be too big.

His stance represents a claim upon the entire Earth.

Rev 10:3  and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices.

The lion has the loudest roar of all the big cats. It can be heard from as far away as five miles. It is at once majestic and terrifying.

We don’t know what the mighty angel “cried with a loud voice,” but the mention of the “lion[s] roar” reminds us that the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Jesus Christ, is coming as King to rule His kingdom and none will be able to withstand Him.

C.S. Lewis got it right when he chose Aslan the lion to represent Jesus in his Narnia series.

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

Rev 10:4  Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from Heaven saying to me, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.”

The “seven thunders” must have been intelligible because John was going to write down their content. God wanted the information sealed. One commentary suggests, “Besides the terrors foretold, there are others unutterable and more horrifying lying in the background… So terrible are they that God in mercy withholds them.”

There are things which you will never know in this life. While not knowing might confuse or frustrate you, sometimes it’s good not knowing:

Not knowing keeps you humble. If you think you know everything, and have all of the answers, you have a tendency to get puffed up with pride. Not knowing some things keeps you humble as you must depend upon the Lord each step of the way.

Not knowing keeps you moving. God has a plan for you, but the road can take some weird twists and turns. If you knew some of the difficulties you faced you might draw back. Not knowing keeps you trusting God through each one.

Leon Morris: “Let us not proceed as though all has been revealed.” It’s better to know Who rather than how or why.

Rev 10:5  The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to Heaven
Rev 10:6  and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created Heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer,

If you are doing some reading on your own as we study the Revelation you might encounter commentators who say this is Jesus. It isn’t. He need not swear an oath. Besides, when the mighty angel was first introduced John said he was “another,” a word meaning another of the same kind. He is an angel.

God’s creation is a theme of the mighty angel’s oath. God created the universe and put Adam and Eve in a beautiful garden paradise and declared, “It is good.” Our original parents sinned and it became “bad.” From that very moment until today God has been working providentially to redeem and restore what was ruined.

In the Book of Romans we are told that, “the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (8:21-22).

It’s the kind of thing that takes a few thousand years.

When the seventh trumpet sounds, the timing will rapidly accelerate to the Second Coming of Jesus.

Rev 10:7  but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.

The Old Testament prophets spoke often about the “finish,” the glorious return of the Son of God and the establishment of His kingdom of righteousness and peace on the earth. The details, however, were not fully revealed to them.

In the Bible, a “mystery” is something you cannot know except by revelation from God. In Matthew 13:11 and Luke 8:10 Jesus tells His first century disciples that “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God…”

The apostle Paul tells you in First Corinthians 4:1 that you are “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”

Let’s go on a brief biblical mystery tour:

First Timothy 3:16 says, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh…” The incarnation of Jesus is a mystery revealed.

In Colossians 1:26-28, Paul speaks of another mystery which had been hid from ages and from generations, but was then made manifest to the saints. He calls it the mystery of “Christ in you.”

In his letter to the saints at Ephesus (3:1-11), Paul says that God by revelation made known to him the mystery which in other ages had not been made known, “that the Gentiles should be ‘fellow heirs,’ and of the ‘same body,’ and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel.” It was a revelation that God was going to, in this dispensation, take some Jews and some Gentiles and form of them a “new body” called the Church.

The rapture of the church is a mystery revealed. “Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump” (First Corinthians 15:51-52).

There are other mysteries, but you get the general drift. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself by means of a plan no one could ever have begun to imagine. It was a mystery, but is fully revealed in the Revelation. It culminates in the end with the Lord reigning forever and ever.

Scholar Robert Thomas writes, “The mystery of God consists of the heretofore unrevealed details unfolded in the chapters from here to the end, chapters that tell of the institution of God’s kingdom on earth and eventually in the new heavens and new earth.”

It has become popular for churches to remove future prophecy from their menu. Or to treat it like a child eating his or her vegetables.

If ever there was a time to retain a healthy portion of prophecy on your plates, it is now. At the very least, since prophecy overall occupies 30% of God’s Word, at least that much ought to be in your meal plan.

Taking in prophecy keeps you focused on things above. Without it we tend to get Earth ‘bound,’ focusing on self and not service. We get spiritual indigestion. A daily dose of Ready or not, Jesus is coming, is the pick-me-up we need (pun intended).

#2 – A Steady Intake Of God’s Word Helps You Finish (v8-11)

If Marie Osmond says, “Join NutriSystem,” but looks just the same after as she did before, you’re disinclined to join.

If God’s Word isn’t changing us, why would folks want to join?

The Word of God is powerful, it is alive, it does not return void. God uses it despite the failures of His servants. He can even use it in the mouths of nonbelievers.

Ideally, however, we are to ingest God’s Word, be nourished by it, then grow in order to provide an example to go along with our exposition and exhortation.

Warren Wiersbe suggests that the illustration of eating the Word is intended to remind us to make the Word flesh; to make it incarnate for others to see.

Rev 10:8  Then the voice which I heard from Heaven spoke to me again and said, “Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth.”

Same voice – God’s voice. Hearing from God, directly, gave John boldness to approach a mighty angel and ask for the scroll.

The Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God in you will give you spiritual boldness.

Ever been to a dinner theater where they involve audience members? John becomes a participant. Up till now he had been a spectator.

God will ask you to participate in ways you feel totally inadequate. In ways that require boldness that can only come from Him. He wants to prove His strength and sufficiency.

Rev 10:9  So I went to the angel and said to him, “Give me the little book.” And he said to me, “Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.”

It was written in the BSV – the Bitter Sweet Version.

The description of the Word as bitter-sweet surprises us at first. But it is always that way. John himself was experiencing the sweet joy of having Jesus revealed to him, of seeing the future rule of Jesus on earth. Yet he was exiled on the Island of Patmos, being persecuted for the Word of God.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ is inherently bitter-sweet. It is full of beasts and bowls and battles while simultaneously promising a blessing for reading it. Everything in it reveals God’s mercy towards Christ-rejecting men but also His wrath against sin and His judgment upon it.

Rev 10:10  Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter.

Yes, we take this literally. Why not? For all we know this scroll was made from edible material. Even if it wasn’t, you can eat paper. Didn’t you ever get caught with a note that had been passed to you in class and have to eat it? Or swallow a spit wad to destroy the evidence?

Rev 10:11  And he said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”

We haven’t met God’s two witnesses.
Or the antichrist.
Or the false prophet.
We haven’t seen the global, cashless economic system.
Or the attempt at a one-world government and religion.
We haven’t seen the rise and fall of another “mystery” – Babylon, as both a city and a system.
We haven’t seen the return of Jesus Christ in His Second Coming to establish His kingdom on the earth.
Or the final disposition of the saved and the lost to Heaven or to Hell for all eternity.
We haven’t seen the new heavens and the new Earth.
Or the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from Heaven.

There is a thing called the Internet. While it holds great potential, its primary use is to publish what are called Fails. These are video clips showing people wiping out, or some such failure. We shouldn’t, but we laugh.

Fails of another nature are no laughing matter.

Too frequently “another one bites the dust” as a Christian leader finishes poorly. It’s not an excuse, but a lot of our favorite Bible heroes bit the dust either along the way, or in the end. Noah, Samson, Gideon, and David, are guys with huge fails. Let’s double-down and finish well.

When we say that a steady intake of God’s Word helps your focus and your finish, it doesn’t mean reading the Bible stands alone. The Donut-Man gets it right when he sings, “I read it and I do it.”

The balanced-Bible-diet should encourage you to pray, and to regularly fellowship in a local church, and to tell others about Jesus. Doing those things, in turn, tend to motivate you to stay in God’s Word. They work together.

Do we suffer from pica? It’s possible. We mentioned the Frenchman who ate paper money and coins. If you are laying up treasures for yourself on Earth rather than in Heaven, it’s pica.

Likewise anything that you turn to for strength or satisfaction that is not God’s Word.

Like Jesus, we have food the world knows nothing about – to do God’s will and finish the work.

Jesus said, “he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from Heaven… He who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:56-57).