New Birth Story (2 Kings 5:1-19)

You moms have probably told the birth story of your kids multiple times. The road to delivery can have a many twists and turns. We find the details compelling and often surprising. Maybe your story is like Mary Gorgens who delivered her fifth child in just 120 seconds (the fastest on record). Or maybe for your family it was more like Joanna Krzysztonek, who had to endure 75 days of labor, laying tilted 30 degrees backward 24 hours a day to keep her twins from delivering too early.

The Bible describes salvation being delivered and born again. Jesus said we must be born again if we want to escape death and receive the forgiveness of our sins. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Titus 3:5 – [God our Savior] saved us – not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy – through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

This amazing process of being born again is the most important thing that could possibly happen to you. Now, the Gospel is the same in every age and in every place. God reveals Himself, man is given the choice as to whether they will believe Him and trust Him and, if they will, then He gives them His righteousness. But the road to redemption is particular to each individual. Some are saved very young, some are saved very old. Some were ignorant of spiritual things, others were actively in opposition to the Lord Jesus Christ. Some people had a single event that made them realize that they were sinners in need of a Savior. Others can identify decades of plain but persistent attempts on the part of God to rescue them.

In 2 Kings, chapter 5 we have a wonderful new birth story. As we examine it we will not only be amazed at the power and grace of God, but we also get a chance to see how He involves those of us who already know Him in the process. And, for those of you who may not yet be born again, you will, hopefully, see a reflection of yourself and the state of your heart, your need for forgiveness, and that salvation is being held out to you by a God who knows you and loves you.

Our story opens in a house in the ancient kingdom of Aram – we would call it Syria today – more than 100 miles to the north of the city of Samaria, which was the Israeli capital at the time.

2 Kings 5:1 – Naaman, commander of the army for the king of Aram, was a man important to his master and highly regarded because through him, the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was a valiant warrior, but he had a skin disease.

Naaman is our main character. He is the one who will be saved at the end of the story. At the start, we learn a lot about him. He was a man of great power, great position, great ability. He was the commander-in-chief of the mighty Aramean army. He hadn’t cheated or bribed his way into this spot. He earned it through valor and victory. We find that he was a man respected and revered, both by his king and his own servants. But we learn two other very important things.

First, we see that it was by God’s grace that he had won the battles he had won. If you’re not a Christian, even if you believe there’s a God, you may not realize just how involved He is not only in the world generally, but specifically in your life. The Bible explains that God is in charge of this world and the flow of history. He has a will and it will be done. On top of that, He is directly involved in your life. It’s His breath in your lungs. You may think that you are the commander of your life, but God’s word says, “through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed.”

The most significant thing we learn about Naaman in this verse is the last thing: He had a skin disease. We would call him a leper.

In the Bible, leprosy serves as a picture of our sinful condition before God. Leprosy was a rotting decay that would start small and slowly grow, ultimately killing the victim. You could try to cover it up, but that wouldn’t do any good. In fact, it would only pollute whatever touched it. Leprosy isolated a person and deadened their senses. There was no cure anywhere on earth. Nothing could be done to clean yourself or rid yourself of the stain or effects of this terrible affliction.

That’s exactly the spiritual condition of every single human being. You see, when we’re born we inherit a sin nature and then, throughout life we commit individual acts of sin. Some worse, some not so bad in the eyes of other people, but all of them putrid and criminal in comparison to a perfect and holy God. When He sees our imperfection, our rebellion, our refusal to do what is right in every thought, word and deed, here’s His assessment: From the sole of your foot to the top of your head, no spot is clear. The whole thing is festering with our sin. It’s a plague in our hearts.

You can rise through the ranks of men, you can become a great champion, secure in your wealth and your position and your legacy. But what will cure you of the wrongs that you’ve done? If you’re not a Christian, you’re Naaman. And you’re in a world of trouble, living on borrowed time.

But, here’s the good news: Naaman was not only important to his king or his country. He was also very important to God. And God was about to do something incredible for this man.

2 Kings 5:2-3 – 2 Aram had gone on raids and brought back from the land of Israel a young girl who served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria, he would cure him of his skin disease.”

This girl is one of the most remarkable people in all the Old Testament. We don’t know her name, but look at her heart. She had been living her life when suddenly she was stolen and became a slave in the house of the very man who led the Godless soldiers who had kidnapped her. But, despite the suffering she had endured, despite the fact that the entire trajectory of her life was now completely different, she did not turn her back on God. In fact, her hope in God was alive and well. And she knew that the God of Israel would be kind and compassionate even to the Commander of Aram.

Do we present God that way to the world around us? As if He is willing to receive anyone who will come to Him? As if He is both very mindful of our present sufferings but also has plans and purposes that are far greater than our present circumstances? That’s Who God is. He is the God Who loves His enemies and does all He can to save them. This girl is a reminder to all of us who are born again that we are guaranteed trouble in this world, but at the same time, God works all things together for good in us and through us. We have hope and confidence even in defeat or suffering.

This girl had every right to hate Naaman – to pray that he would die for the evil things he had done. Instead, her heart was full of compassion. And it was full of real insight for the lost and dying people around her. She didn’t just say, “I wish things weren’t so bad for you.” She does the much more valuable thing, “I wish Naaman would go to this man in this place so that he would live and not die.”

If you’re a Christian, you know the way to salvation. You have the directions which lead to heaven. We are to go through life delivering that saving message, not coddling people or generically consoling them, but giving them the prescription for eternal life. That it is found in One place and One Person: Christ Jesus who is fully God and fully man, who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on a Roman cross, was buried and raised to life the third day and now offers freely the forgiveness of sins. That if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved.

Now, Naaman was mighty, but he was also desperate. He was a dead man walking unless he found some healing, some cure for his incurable disease. No doubt he had gone to many physicians and shamans and potion makers in an effort to escape his fate. All of them had failed miserably, as the legions spread ever-further over his body. But, he had heard that sometimes strange things happened in the land of Israel. Whispers of the impossible were shared in the barracks. Now there’s this little Hebrew girl saying, “I know how you can be totally saved from your sickness.”

2 Kings 5:4 – 4 So Naaman went and told his master what the girl from the land of Israel had said.

This must’ve been a hard meeting to schedule. To go in and ask your king for time off to go into the capital of the enemy to have a holy man heal you of a disease everyone knew couldn’t be cured based on the testimony of a little slave girl. It shows just how desperate Naaman was.

If you’re not a Christian here today, you need to realize your condition. If Naaman had thought, “It’s just a rash, it’ll go away,” then he wouldn’t have cared about what the girl said. But he knew this wasn’t just a scab. He was doomed.

Friends, if you’ve never been born again, you’re doomed. There is a way that seems right to a person but its end is the way to death. The Bible says you are rushing toward an eternity in Hell, not because God wants to send you there, but because you haven’t accepted His offer to be saved from it. God is not willing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance. But you have to realize your need – that you’re lost and guilty and hopeless but for God’s intervention.

2 Kings 5:5-6 – 5 Therefore, the king of Aram said, “Go, and I will send a letter with you to the king of Israel.” So he went and took with him 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing. 6 He brought the letter to the king of Israel, and it read: When this letter comes to you, note that I have sent you my servant Naaman for you to cure him of his skin disease.

In today’s valuation this is more than $4,000,000! Naaman and the king assumed that this sort of healing would require payment. Naaman was worth every penny to Aram, so he’s sent with quite a bounty. But, it was all worthless. Money couldn’t solve his problem. Money couldn’t buy a miracle. You see, they were operating with human intuition and attitudes. They really hadn’t listened carefully to the young girl from Samaria. She said nothing about the king of Israel or a price to be paid.

For any non-believer listening: You may have to admit that you have pre-suppositions about God or about Jesus or about Christianity that aren’t in the Bible at all. Naaman had a bunch of them, as we’ll see. And for us Christians here today, it’s so important that we accurately explain the Word of God to people. It makes a very big difference.

2 Kings 5:7 – 7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and asked, “Am I God, killing and giving life, that this man expects me to cure a man of his skin disease? Recognize that he is only picking a fight with me.”

The king of Israel was, ethnically, one of ‘God’s people,’ but he was no believer. He was a pagan idolator just like Naaman. And we see just how empty he was. He didn’t even believe the other gods he worshipped would help him in this situation.

We also see his hardness of heart. He knew who Elisha was and what he was capable of. Elisha had raised the dead! But we’re told these kings of Israel “clung to their sin.” And, because of it, when this man had an opportunity to see the astonishing work of God, he missed it. It’s true, he couldn’t give life, but he should’ve known the God Who can.

If you’re one of God’s people here today, don’t become like the king of Israel – so wrapped up in wealth and pleasure and politics and selfishness that you become just like the unbelieving world around you. We’re meant to be in the world, not of it. The light of the world, pointing others to life.

2 Kings 5:8-9 – 8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king: “Why have you torn your clothes? Have him come to me, and he will know there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house.

Elisha took initiative, not for his own glory, but for the glory of God and for the sake of a suffering leper. He welcomed the chance to work in this man’s life. The stakes were high, the problem difficult, but Elisha wasn’t ruffled. He was full of faith and confidence in the Lord.

2 Kings 5:10-12 – 10 Then Elisha sent him a messenger, who said, “Go wash seven times in the Jordan and your skin will be restored and you will be clean.” 11 But Naaman got angry and left, saying, “I was telling myself: He will surely come out, stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the skin disease. 12 Aren’t Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and left in a rage.

Why the disrespect? Is Elisha just turning the screws on one of Israel’s enemies? No. What we’re seeing here is that this isn’t really a skin issue as much as it is a heart issue. It’s Naaman’s heart that needs healing more than his skin. Of course, to him the most important thing is this terminal illness. But God is showing him that there is more going on – something on a deeper level. God didn’t want to simply clear the sores off his skin. God wanted to renew Naaman’s heart, transform his life, and rescue him from the kingdom of darkness forever and ever.

That’s what God wants to do in our lives. He is mindful and does care about our physical suffering, sorrows, and difficulties. But He wants to save every part of us, transforming us from the inside out.

Naaman was a great man. A powerful man. He commanded and it was done. Naaman had the resources he needed to buy what he wanted. But salvation is not for sale. It can only be received as a gift by someone with a humble, surrendered heart. The Bible says that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. When He reaches out to a person, He says, “Follow Me.” To follow God means that we must believe Him and trust Him. That we turn away from our previous path of life, we turn away from our sin and our wickedness and instead allow God to be the Master of our lives.

Naaman wasn’t ready to submit. He had come with his own terms in mind. “He should come out, show me a certain amount of preference. He should do religious things and perform a spectacle worthy of a man as important as me.” Naaman was dying, but wanted to be in charge of the treatment. You see, he was ready to be rid of his leprosy, but he wasn’t ready to be rid of his pride. And, as a result, he flew into a rage and almost missed his chance to live and not die.

What’s holding you back from becoming a Christian? Is it that you won’t believe? Is it that you won’t surrender? Is it that you’re worried what others might think? Consider what would’ve happened to Naaman if he just went home and the story ended at verse 12. Thankfully, it didn’t.

2 Kings 5:13 – 13 But his servants approached and said to him, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more should you do it when he only tells you, ‘Wash and be clean’?”

Naaman must’ve been a good man, at least most of the time. His servants really loved him. They thought of him as a father. On the other hand, he was a proud man. A man with a temper. God knew everything about Naaman. He didn’t demand that Naaman clean himself or make himself perfect before he could be saved. But, to be healed, to be saved, meant Naaman would have to surrender to God’s way. It wasn’t complicated, but that doesn’t mean it was easy to conquer himself, lay down his arms and bow his knee to the King of Heaven. But that was his only hope.

2 Kings 5:14 – 14 So Naaman went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, according to the command of the man of God. Then his skin was restored and became like the skin of a small boy, and he was clean.

How can you go into a dirty river 7 times and come out clean? The Jordan was a brown, muddy mess. God accomplishes the impossible. Each time and Naaman went in and dunked under he came out, took a look at himself and saw no change. But he made the choice to trust the God of Elisha. His other gods had never done a thing for him. Now, he believed the word he had been told and he obeyed the command he had been given. Not on his own terms, but on God’s terms. It must’ve been a silly sight if you were there fishing on the river that day. But what may have seemed silly to some spectator was actually the transformation of a life. The saving of a man from death and hell. Naaman came up out of the water and was brand new, inside and out.

2 Kings 5:15-16 – 15 Then Naaman and his whole company went back to the man of God, stood before him, and declared, “I know there’s no God in the whole world except in Israel. Therefore, please accept a gift from your servant.” 16 But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, in whose presence I stand, I will not accept it.” Naaman urged him to accept it, but he refused.

More than his skin was transformed. We see, immediately, the marks of salvation in the heart and words and actions of Naaman. First, he was thankful. He didn’t go home, but first took the 25 mile trip back to Samaria to thank Elisha for what had happened.

Second, we see his heart was overflowing with worship and testimony about God. He went in the water as a pagan leper, he came out a righteous monotheist. He wanted people to know. He wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel.

Third, his heart was full of generosity. He wasn’t trying to bribe anyone or pay for anything. He said, “please accept this gift.” This wasn’t out of obligation or coercion, but out of a thankful heart.

Fourth, his newfound humility remained. When Elisha refused him, he was content to be refused. No flying into a rage this time.

Why did Elisha refuse? Isn’t a workman worthy of his wage? Yes, that’s true. And a heart transformed by God will be a heart full of generosity toward the Lord’s work. But God, working through Elisha, wants this to be perfectly clear: Salvation is free. It is the gift of God. You are saved by grace through faith, not of works, not of money, not of worthiness, lest any many should boast.

2 Kings 5:17 – 17 Naaman responded, “If not, please let your servant be given as much soil as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will no longer offer a burnt offering or a sacrifice to any other god but the Lord.

In these closing verses many commentators criticize Naaman for being “superstitious,” but we need not criticize. He knew nothing about how to worship the Lord. Not yet anyway. He had no Bible. He’d never been to synagogue. Instead, we see a man who wanted to do whatever he could to worship God faithfully. His life was in Syria and so he wanted to, in a sense, take a temple with him. He made a plan to worship and to honor God. He didn’t consider his relationship with Jehovah as over. He knew this was just beginning. Yes, he’d have a lot to learn, but he was ready to worship – ready to acknowledge publicly that there is one true God.

2 Kings 5:18-19 – 18 However, in a particular matter may the Lord pardon your servant: When my master, the king of Aram, goes into the temple of Rimmon to bow in worship while he is leaning on my arm,, and I have to bow in the temple of Rimmon—when I bow in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” 19 So he said to him, “Go in peace.”

Naaman thinking about how his life would have to change now that he was a servant of God. He realized it wouldn’t always be easy and that people would notice the things he was doing and how that might reflect poorly on his faith.

From our vantage point we might call this compromise. But if we step back for a moment, what do we see? We see a heart enthralled with God. We see a man completely changed, wanting very much to honor God in every thought, word and action. We see Elisha speak graciously to him – he doesn’t rebuke him. Naaman knew that it wasn’t only his skin that had been cleaned, so was his heart and mind. He wanted to go forward in life just as clean and pardoned as he was in that moment.

Put yourself in this story. If you were going to be cast as one of these characters based on what’s going on in your life, who would it be? If you’re not born again choose between Naaman and the king of Israel. They both found themselves in trouble. But the king held onto his resentment toward God. He clung to his sin. He refused to believe. Naaman surrendered and he was changed forever. His life was saved. His heart was saved. He suddenly had a value no battlefield victory could give him. He was loved by God and, after years of life and leprosy, took hold of the gift of salvation God extended to him. If you’re not a Christian, God wants to redeem you. In Hosea chapter 7 God mourns over those who rebel against Him and flee from Him. He says, “I want to redeem you.” Are you willing to let Him? God loves you just as much as He loved Naaman or the servant girl or even His own Son. God so loves the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever would believe on Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

For those of us who are Christians here today, choose between the servant girl and Elisha. One is not better than the other. It’s more about circumstances. Whether you find yourself in a time of trouble or a time of peace, God can use you to do world-changing, eternal work. You may feel insignificant or pushed aside, but none of that matters when we’re talking about what God can do. Commentator Max Anders points out that the girl was everything Naaman wasn’t. He was powerful, she was powerless. He was free, she was a slave. He was a conquering Aramean, she was a despised Hebrew. She had nothing, he had everything. But which was the hero?

Or look at Elisha. Presented suddenly with the pressure of a seemingly hopeless situation. And yet, his trust in God’s ability did not flag. Both of these servants of God showed grace and compassion as they spoke the truth. They set aside resentment and prejudice and doubt and, as a result, something historic happened. More importantly, because of it, you and I will get to meet Naaman one day and hear him tell the story himself. But it requires a willingness on our part to set our minds on things above, not on our earthly circumstances. To choose to love our enemies. To remember that this is the work God does and His delight is to do it through us. Your conversations, your prayers, your acts of compassion to the people God brings into your path, those things are not wasted and they are not insignificant. They just may be the last phrase that helps bring a person into the Kingdom. You and I are part of God’s labor and delivery team.

Prophecy Update #665 – Arrogate, Mandate, Intimidate

We reserve a few minutes each Sunday to discuss current world trends that you’d expect from reading Bible prophecy.

We are futurists. We interpret the unfulfilled prophetic portions of the Book of Daniel and the Book of the Revelation, and all other unfulfilled Bible prophecies, as future events occurring in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.

Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence, cashless commerce, the manipulation of human DNA, global government, the exponential growth of human knowledge, and the rebirth of Israel as a nation are all areas we see corroborating the End Times prophecies of the Bible.

The trend this week has been mandating COVID19 vaccination and the requirement to show proof in order to function in society.

First, some international news:

In Italy, starting August 6th the unvaccinated are not allowed to access indoor facilities including restaurants, museums, cinema, gyms, etc. They are not allowed to take domestic flights or use the trains.

In Moscow, two million people in public facing jobs, including frontline health workers, have been told they must be vaccinated by the city’s mayor after a spike in cases. Businesses will be monitored to make sure they comply – at least 60% of employees must have a first dose by July 15 or firms risk being fined.

Saudi Arabia takes perhaps the hardest line: no jab, no job. In May, its government said employees in the public, private, and non-profit sectors must be vaccinated before they can return to work.

https://www.bmj.com/content/373/bmj.n1645

Starting August 8, Israelis must present a vaccination certificate or a negative Covid test if they want to attend cinemas, theaters, amusement parks, football matches or any outdoor and indoor activities involving more than 100. Synagogues are not exempt.

https://www.newstatesman.com/world/middle-east/2021/07/how-israel-s-new-vaccine-sanctions-could-boost-support-covid-19-passports

Around half of Australia’s 25 million people are in lockdown across several cities and states. The lockdown – in place until at least August 28th – bars people from leaving their home except for essential exercise, shopping, caregiving and other reasons. Australia has deployed hundreds of soldiers to Sydney to help with enforcement.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/25/covid-sydney-police-punish-anti-lockdown-protesters

Closer to home:

The Biden administration on July 29 stated that federal workers and contractors will have to show proof of vaccination against COVID19 or else wear masks, engage in social distancing, and submit to regular COVID19 testing. The Biden administration will also recommend the same model to employers across the United States.

“The US Department of Justice concluded in an opinion that federal law does not prohibit public agencies and private businesses from requiring COVID19 vaccines under the FDA’s emergency use authorization.”

On July 26, the U.S. Department of Veterans said they would require some of their government workers to get the COVID19 shot or be tested weekly. They became the first federal agency to mandate the vaccine.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/mkt_morningbrief/department-of-justice-declares-covid-19-vaccine-mandates-legal_3920759.html

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that the entire city workforce – some 340,000 people – will be mandated by mid-September to get vaccinated against the coronavirus or be tested weekly. He said, “We’ve got to shake people at this point and say ‘C’mon now.’ We tried voluntary. We could not have been more kind and compassionate as a country… free testing, incentives, friendly warm embrace – the voluntary phase is over.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky suggested that vaccine passport-style systems might be implemented in the United States.

The California State University statewide system announced they would be joining the growing list of entities and require that those students returning to campus this fall must be vaccinated against COVID19. All faculty, staff, and students are covered under the new requirement and must give vaccination certification to their school by September 30th.

https://californiaglobe.com/fr/california-state-university-makes-getting-covid-vaccine-mandatory-on-campuses/

California will soon require state employees and all healthcare workers to provide proof of COVID19 inoculation or get tested at least once a week.
There are 246,000 state employees in California who are expected to be affected by the order. Additionally, there are at least 2 million healthcare workers in the public and private sectors in the state who fall under the mandate, the Associated Press reported. 

Governor Newsom vowed California will have the “strongest vaccine verification system in the US.”

https://www.businessinsider.com/newsom-california-vaccine-verification-system-covid-19-mandate-2021-7

Set aside your personal opinions and biases about COVID19 and vaccinations and look at this trend prophetically.

During the future Great Tribulation, “all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, [must] receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 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” (Revelation 13:16-17).

In other words, citizens will be mandated to participate in a system by which they must show proof of compliance in order to be allowed to work or shop or dine or take in entertainment. Without proof, their livelihood and lifestyles will be restricted.

Citizens are – today – being mandated to participate in a system by which they must show proof of compliance in order to be allowed to work or shop or dine or take in entertainment. Without proof, their livelihood and lifestyles are being restricted.

One more piece of news. The Calvert Journal reported that in Moscow you can receive a temporary tattoo to prove your COVID19 status. “Created by food courier service Delivery Club and Everink Tattoo, the new service is aimed at Muscovites who need a QR pass to enter bars and restaurants. The link proves that the holder is either fully vaccinated, has had COVID19 in the past six months, or has had a recent negative PCR test.”

The COVID19 mandates, whether necessary or not, have accelerated global acceptance of invasive social credit by which governments control all behavior.

We believe the resurrection and rapture of the church is imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it. It will happen before the Great Tribulation.

Jesus will return in the clouds.
He will raise the dead in Christ.
He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies.
We will all join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

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…

Prophecy Update #664 – Passport Surrender

We reserve a few minutes each Sunday to discuss current world trends that you’d expect from reading Bible prophecy.

We are futurists. We interpret the unfulfilled prophetic portions of the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation, and all other unfulfilled Bible prophecies, as future events occurring in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.

Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence, cashless commerce, the manipulation of human DNA, global government, the exponential growth of human knowledge, and the rebirth of Israel as a nation are all areas we see corroborating the End Times prophecies of the Bible.

There is a lot of news about Vaccine Passports. One columnist wrote the following op-ed piece:

Vaccine passports are the latest rage around the world requiring proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, or travel on public transportation. 

New York has created the “Excelsior Pass,” European countries are developing a Digital Green Certificate, and social control disguised as disease control is infecting the public domain. 

A system of passports promotes a type of social control reminiscent of what we see in dictatorships.  Can you imagine living in a world where you could be prevented from shopping, taking a bus, vacationing, visiting your family without a state sanctioned passport?  

The vaccine passport platform system currently in Israel and planned for a growing number of countries is a social credit system which is implemented currently in China that dominates the everyday lives of the Chinese people.  China’s social credit system allows the government to find “dissidents” who disagree with China’s policies and have them detained within minutes.  

The system can judge citizens’ behavior and trustworthiness. Forget to return your library books on time? Owe a parking ticket? Express your point of view too loudly?  You could lose certain rights, such as booking a flight or train ticket. 

Once vaccine passports are rolled out, adding functionalities to the backend would be simple.  Their implementation could lead to profound public manipulation and control.  Once governments and corporations get this kind of power, where does it end?   

George Orwell aptly wrote in his dystopian novel 1984, “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.”   

https://www.blueridgenow.com/story/news/2021/04/28/vaccine-passports-bad-idea/7339701002/

Obviously we will have to wait to see how far the governments of the world push Vaccine Passports.

I point to it as a trend you’d expect from reading the Bible because a system similar to this will exist in the future Great Tribulation.

Utilizing a mandatory “mark” in or on the right hand or forehead, the governments of the world will control the behaviors of all people in just the kind of ways the article I quoted states.

The technology exists to achieve this almost overnight. The COVID19 pandemic is accelerating our acceptance of this type of system.

We believe the resurrection and rapture of the church is imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it. It will happen before the Great Tribulation.

Jesus will return in the clouds.
He will raise the dead in Christ.
He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies.
We will all join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

It’s Only Natural (Genesis 3:1-24)

In most disaster movies, the opening scenes are spent establishing characters and showing them going about their regular lives. And then there is some catastrophe that changes the whole world around them. Usually, the disaster doesn’t come without warning. Instead, characters have been warned, but they shrug off the suggestions that something might go wrong, and proceed as if there’s no danger at all. By the end of the runtime, there’s been a lot of death and destruction. Usually our main characters are mostly alive, but nothing will ever be the same.

We’ve come to a great disaster in Genesis. When we left off things were great. Everyone was happy. But once this chapter comes to a close, everything will have been changed. Man’s relationship to God, man and woman’s relationship, human relationships to the world around us, our very biology, the course of history – everything is dramatically changed for the worse.

As the story unfolds, we’ll watch a small cast of characters. There’s Adam and Eve, the serpent and the Lord God. As we look at the heart and behavior of each we’ll be able to learn something about each of their natures. Knowing more about these natures will assist us as we live in this world that has been changed so dramatically by sin.

Genesis 3:1 – Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Even if you weren’t raised in church you probably associate this serpent with the Devil. That’s because we’re told in Revelation 12 and 20 that the “serpent of old” is the Devil. We’re also told in Ezekiel 28 that the Devil was in the Garden of God. At the same time, we see here that he is described as a “wild animal.” And so, it would seem that this was a real animal that was being possessed by Satan so he could come and try to con Eve.

We’re told that he was the “most cunning” of creatures. Your version may say subtle or crafty. Derek Kidner calls it, “malevolent brilliance.” Another resources describes it as: “willing to do anything.”

Already we are learning something about the nature of our enemy, the Devil. He is willing to do anything to destroy your life, your testimony and your relationships (both with God and others). His victory in the Garden was only the beginning of his long career. He still spends his time, prowling around, looking for someone he can devour.

But why, oh why would God allow him to hang out in the Garden? Isn’t that a dangerous, unfair thing to do? As we’ve touched upon before, God wanted a loving, personal relationship with human beings. Such a relationship would have to be based on free and genuine choice.

Also, as Dr. J. Vernon McGee points out, at this point in time Adam and Eve were innocent, but not righteous. To be righteous, their obedience would have to be put to the test through temptation. But God does not tempt anyone. So, God allowed the Devil to come and have this talk with Eve, offering her door number 2.

He asks her a simple question: “Did God really say?” We can find many parallels between this moment of temptation and Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the Gospels. In both situations Satan attacks the word of God. That is his nature. And we’ll see that Eve’s first error is that she does not have a firm grasp on what God has said. God’s word matters and it is specific. It’s been given as it is so that we might be shielded and strengthened and know the difference between truth and lie. As Christians and as a church we must always keep the study and application of God’s word primary.

Genesis 3:2-3 – 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’ ”

We learn a few things about human nature from Eve. First of all, some scholars believe the language indicates that she interrupted the serpent mid sentence. Certainly she doesn’t take time to weigh or prepare her response. Humans, by nature, are somewhat hasty when it comes to spiritual things. We’re prone to knee-jerk reactions before pausing, reflecting, reviewing what God has actually said.

Second, we see that Eve underestimates both the generosity of God and His judgment against sin. The Lord had used very strong language to warn Adam about death, but Eve strips away some of its seriousness. We also see a subtle difference between what God said about eating and what Eve reports. God had said, “eat freely of ANY of the trees.” Eve has shrunk that down to a “well, you MAY eat, I suppose.” One resource points out that Eve has removed the idea that she and Adam could eat any time to their hearts’ content.

It is human nature to think of God as miserly and withholding. But it isn’t true. We’ve seen in previous studies just how extravagantly generous He is. God only wants what is best for you.

Third, we see that Eve adds a restriction to the word of God. “You must not touch it.” God never said that. Was Eve exaggerating? Had Adam placed this as a sort of safe guard to keep them away from sin? We don’t know. But we’ll find that this extra layer of legalism probably backfired and contributed to their defeat, rather than keeping them spiritually safe. Robert Bergen writes, “the sad truth is that when people add to the word of God, they create confusion and trouble.”

Genesis 3:4-5 – 4 “No! You will certainly not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Now the serpent is outright lying. He’s been a liar all along. That’s his nature. And we see that he’s all about jealousy. That’s what caused all his trouble at the beginning and it led to his ruin. So, he’s using the same bait with Eve.

Now, Eve was innocent, but she wasn’t stupid. Had she thought this through she might’ve asked, “If God is afraid of us becoming like Him, why did He put this tree in the Garden in the first place?”

She’s being deceived, but we have to come to the conclusion that there’s a willingness in her heart to be deceived. After all, she wants the fruit. It’s beautiful to look at. It’s appealing. She has a tiny whisper in her heart that says, “God doesn’t want you to be happy. He wants to keep you down.” So she allows the serpent to deceive her, to lead her astray.

It’s interesting – he offered a way that they might “open their eyes,” right? But let’s remember what God had already said. Remember how He had invited them to come, behold, LOOK! in chapter 1. He had given them this wonderful commission to watch over the Garden. Their eyes were open in every good way. Not to the horrors of evil, but who would want that? Well, the Devil wanted that for them.

Here’s another thing about Satan’s nature: He is a student of God’s word. How did he know what God had said? Look at his conversation with Jesus during the wilderness temptation. Satan knows the Scripture. It doesn’t seem like he understands all of it. And, of course, he doesn’t obey it. But he’s all about using God’s word in perverse ways to devour lives. Look at the false teachings that have crept into the church for the last 2,000 years. Look at the cults. We need to be equipped with the knowledge of God to avoid those dangers and be careful in our study of it.

Genesis 3:6 – 6 The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

This isn’t just about a piece of fruit. It’s about whether they were going to trust God or not. Here, through their choice, they’re saying, “We don’t need God to get wisdom. We can find it elsewhere.”

Now here’s where their legalism backfired: She had said, “Oh if we touch that fruit, we’ll die.” But then, inevitably, she reached out, grabbed one of those figs and plucked it down and then…nothing happened! Nobody died. Now, what she had ascribed to God (this extra command) seemed to be untrue. Why? Because they had made it up. But it would’ve emboldened them to take a bite.

We get a bombshell here: Adam was there by Eve’s side the whole time! Why wasn’t he protecting his wife? Why wasn’t he intervening? We don’t know. Actually, it’s worse than that. It seems that he was maybe allowing Eve to be the guinea pig, the royal food taster. He lets her eat before he takes a bite, maybe to see if she drops dead! Humans, by nature, are deeply selfish. God had designed them to live in total harmony and mutual dependence – that they would complete one another. But now, we see they have their own desires in mind, at the expense of their spouse.

Genesis 3:7 – 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Seeing these crude coverups would’ve been silly if it weren’t so tragic. Have you ever seen a small child try to clean up a big mess they made?

They felt the guilt of their sin and immediately tried to cover it. But, notice what they did: They covered part of their bodies. Not their hearts. They couldn’t do that. But this is human nature: We feel guilty for the sin inside because God’s moral law has been written on our hearts, and so, humans go out and create all sorts of arbitrary coverings in an effort to dress up that guilt. But human religion, human effort is just as worthless in reconciling us to God as Adam and Eve putting a few leaves over their swimsuit areas.

Genesis 3:8-9 – 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

Now the Lord comes on the scene. Of course, He had seen it all. Not just the eating. He saw into their hearts and knew every thought, every emotion, every aspect of what was going on. He had been betrayed and defied. His perfect creation had been completely spoiled due to their rebellion. What was God’s response? He would’ve been justified in burning the whole thing up. Instead, He immediately came down to be with His people. He seeks them out, calling out to them in kindness.

God’s nature is compassionate love, gentleness and mercy. Yes, He must pour out wrath on sin, but His desire for human beings is always reconciliation and restoration. That’s been His way from the beginning. We see it here. Why bother with this conversation with Adam and Eve? Why bother asking where they are if He already knows the answer? It’s because He is acting in tenderness and giving them a chance to repent of what they’ve done. Let’s see what they do.

Genesis 3:10 – 10 And he said, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

Notice, as God speaks with Adam and Eve, He’ll give them all the space they need to say they’re sorry, to fall on His mercy and ask for forgiveness, but they won’t. Instead, Adam says he’s afraid. Now, remember, what had the serpent promised? “Your eyes will be open.” But what happened? Adam is in the dark. He doesn’t know what is going to happen. One commentator suggests that, perhaps Adam thinks God will come and execute them for their crime.

Genesis 3:11 – 11 Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

Look at the heart of God. He’s so patient, so gracious. Adam hasn’t repented, but God is trying to lead him there.

Genesis 3:12 – 12 The man replied, “The woman you gave to be with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.”

Rather than repent and ask God for mercy, Adam shifts the blame first to his wife then to God Himself. “It’s the lady’s fault. And, You’re the One that brought her here anyway.” Our nature is to blame-shift, to excuse ourselves, to try to wriggle out of our own responsibility for sin.

Genesis 3:13 – 13 So the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Eve also tries to pass responsibility off to someone else. But we see God’s nature here. He’s not only patient and tender, He also is firm in the truth. Notice how He emphasizes, “What have you done?” When we sin, it’s not someone else’s fault. It’s not society’s fault or because I had no other choice. Your actions are your responsibility. God wants to help you in that mess, but first you have to own it.

Now comes the consequences.

Genesis 1:14-15 – 14 So the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. 15 I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.

Immediately God’s massive plan of redemption was put into motion. Why not just erase these two people and the serpent and start again? Because God loved Adam and Eve so much He was unwilling to consign them to eternal damnation. He wanted to save them. And, as the Bible reveals, there is only one way that man can be saved. And that’s for God to come Himself, put on flesh, pay the penalty for sin and then give humans the free choice whether they will accept Him as Substitute and Savior or not. And all that takes an immense amount of time and effort and providence. But, in God’s mind, Adam and Eve were worth the trouble. And you are worth the trouble too.

There weren’t only consequences for satan. Humankind would have to lie in the beds they made.

Genesis 1:16-19 – 16 He said to the woman: I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children with painful effort. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you. 17 And he said to the man, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.”

This isn’t God being vindictive. This is simply what Adam brought into the world. The NET Bible translates God’s curse in verse 17 this way, “Cursed is the ground thanks to you.” He had tried to warn them, He had provided every single thing they could possibly need or want for a perfect life. Instead, they chose poison and death.

Even still, we see God’s grace. Because of sin, Adam and Eve immediately died spiritually. They would’ve died eternally but God made a way of escape. They deserved to face sudden physical death, but instead God allowed them to live for hundreds of years. And though they faced a now hostile environment, God’s next action was to help them be protected.

Genesis 1:20-21 – 20 The man named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all the living. 21 The Lord God made clothing from skins for the man and his wife, and he clothed them.

So we see that there has been some level of reconciling between God and man. Adam believes God and is paying attention to what He has said. That’s why he chose this name for his wife. And we see God bring His people in close and says, “Let me take these silly leaf clothes off and I will give you better clothes. Ones that fit properly. Ones that will help, rather than hinder.” Of course, for these, an animal had to die. God establishing, from the beginning, the truth of how atonement, how covering for sin is accomplished. Only one way: The death of a substitute.

Genesis 1:22-24 – 22 The Lord God said, “Since the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove the man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life.

This is another act of grace on God’s part. For them to eat of the tree of life in this condition would trap them forever in an unredeemed state. And so the Lord drives them out of the Garden and stations these fearsome angels there to block them from re-entering. Cherubim, by the way, are not little fat babies. In the Bible they appear as hybrid beings, looking part human looking and part animal. Usually with 2 or 4 faces, wings and a lot of power.

So, in this text we see our enemy’s nature is to lie and to ruin and to attack God’s word. God’s nature is to come with grace and compassion, even though we are absolutely guilty of rebellion. Our nature is to focus on the wrong things, to stray from God and to then try to avoid personal responsibility.

Does that mean when we’re tempted it’s hopeless? No. As Christians we’re given a new nature, provided by God like a garment to help us navigate this world with all its temptations. Paul tells us in both Ephesians and Colossians to “Put on your new nature,” so that we can be like God and so we can be renewed according to the image of our Creator.

Temptation is still going to come. The Devil isn’t done doing his nasty work. When it does, we can learn from this scene about how to overcome. First, always remember that God is not withholding any good thing from you. Nor does He tempt you to sin. Our enemy does. And when he does, he is lying. He may have great arguments or shiny bait, but it’s a lie.

One example: Today some secular psychologists suggest that having an “open marriage,” where you go out and explore romantic liaisons with people who aren’t your spouse will actually help your marriage. In Psychology Today, a Ph.D. college professor wrote about various “studies” being done in this terrible field. His conclusion is that “well, more research is needed, but this seems to be a positive thing. (Paraphrase)” He suggests it will actually increase your trust and communication while lowering levels of jealousy. It’s a lie from the pit of hell.

Now here’s what Adam and Eve should have remembered: First, that God is good and only wants what’s good for you. Second, that they had power over the serpent. He was under their dominion! What about us? When temptation comes around, remember this truth: Resist the devil and he will flee from you. The devil couldn’t make Adam and Eve sin and he can’t make you sin either. As a Christian, God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear and He will provide for you the way out.

Finally, when we sin, which we all still do, remember this: There’s nothing you can do to cover what you’ve done before an all-knowing, holy God. But you don’t need to cover it. He has done the covering. Your part is to repent. But repentance is an act of the will. It’s a choice we make. It’s what we must do to avoid the disaster of sin. And when we do, God is ready to take us into the safety of His love and provision and make right what we have done wrong.

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.

Prophecy Update #663 – Vac La France

We reserve a few minutes each Sunday to discuss current world trends that you’d expect from reading Bible prophecy.

We are futurists. We interpret the unfulfilled prophetic portions of the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation, and all other unfulfilled Bible prophecies, as future events occurring in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.

Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence, cashless commerce, the manipulation of human DNA, global government, the exponential growth of human knowledge, and the rebirth of Israel as a nation are all areas we see corroborating the End Times prophecies of the Bible.

The article I was drawn to this week was titled, French President Sets Stricter Health Rules.

Excerpts:

French president Emmanuel Macron has announced new health rules to contain the spread of the Delta variant of COVID19.

The key measure announced by Macron will make the EU Digital Covid Certificate – commonly called “health pass” – mandatory in all cultural venues, including cinemas, theaters and concert halls starting on July 21. Starting in August, the health pass will be mandatory in cafes, shops, restaurants, as well as trains and planes, among other places.

Until now, the certificate was only required at festivals and any events gathering more than 5,000 people.

Macron is also making the vaccine mandatory for all doctors, nurses and caregivers, as well as people with health conditions or those considered “vulnerable.”

https://variety.com/2021/global/news/emmanuel-macron-covid-health-pass-mandatory-1235017731/

Another article was titled, Prepare for mandatory COVID vaccines in September, US Army tells command.

Mandatory vaccination that will require proof for a person to travel, for employment, dining, entertainment, and anything else that a government deems necessary, sounds too much like the Last Days prediction that at some point everyone on Earth will be subjected to a contactless, cashless system of commerce involving a ‘mark’ on your hand or forehead. And all of it is becoming more global in scope.

COVID19 vaccination is not the Mark of the Beast. Whether or not you get vaccinated is up to you.

I am pointing to the trend the pandemic has set in terms of accelerating acceptance of the kind of system described in the Revelation.

We believe the resurrection and rapture of the church is imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it. It will happen before the Great Tribulation.

Jesus will return in the clouds.
He will raise the dead in Christ.
He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies.
We will all join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

The Garden State (Genesis 2:4-25)

Elon Musk is always in the news for one reason or another. Recently he made headlines on account of the house he lives in while working at SpaceX’s facility. Actually, Musk is in the process of creating a new town in the rural area. They call it Starbase, Texas. Musk tweeted, “Please consider moving to Starbase…encourage friends to do so!” His house on the SpaceX campus is a 20 foot by 20 foot, foldable dwelling. No matter. He’s not planning on staying on earth anyway. Musk has repeatedly declared his intention to bring humans to Mars. His outlook isn’t too cheery. While he considers it a “glorious adventure,” he also says that the first inhabitants there will face danger, discomfort, lack of supplies and other hardships. “Honestly,’ he says, “a bunch of people will probably die in the beginning.” Not exactly an encouraging assessment from the architect of a new world.

In contrast, tonight we’ll see God bring His special creation into a Garden. And rather than having to eke out their survival in a wasteland, we’ll find that God has provided everything they need lavishly. Not only for man’s subsistence, but for human relationships, human purpose and enjoyment in life.

God is our Maker. He is our Sovereign. He is the Decider. He must be obeyed if we want to live and not die. But, make no mistake, He is a gracious and generous Provider. A Giver of extravagant, beautiful gifts that keep giving more and more to us as we receive them. That fantastic generosity is on full display in our passage tonight, starting in the second half of verse 4.

Genesis 2:4b-5 – At the time that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5 no shrub of the field had yet grown on the land, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not made it rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground.

Genesis 1:1 through 2:4a can serve as a prologue to the Book. Now we zoom in to see more of the specifics of what was presented in the last chapter. Some say, “Wait, I thought the earth had been filled with vegetation on day 3 of the Creation week?” It was. Now the focus of the text is going to shift to God’s dealings with man. And we’ll see the Lord build a special base of operations in a special Garden that He plants in the land of Eden. In verse 5, Eden is in view, not the world at large.

There’s another important addition here. Previously (in the Hebrew) God had simply been referred to by the word Elohim. Now, He is called “Yahweh Elohim.” And we’ll see a focus on naming and calling and God’s personal interaction with humanity. God is a relational God. The Bible reveals that He wants to have a personal, heart-to-heart relationship with you. He knows you by name and His desire is that you know Him intimately as well.

Genesis 2:6 – 6 But mist would come up from the earth and water all the ground.

It seems that the world was one big greenhouse. Anywhere you went, if you stuck a shovel in the ground and turned it over a few times, water would bubble up. It reminds us of the life-giving Word of God. Turn anywhere in these 66 books and do a little digging, you’re going to find water for your soul. You’ll find all that you need for life and Godliness, that you might cultivate your heart and bear spiritual fruit. In Isaiah 58 we read that, as the Lord leads us and directs us, He makes our lives like a well-watered garden. He provides all we need to be strong and satisfied and never dry.

Genesis 2:7 – 7 Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.

Man was a special project in God’s creation. The term used is one that describes the delicate, artistic work of a potter. Here, God is pictured as coming down Himself, to hand-craft a human being, getting close enough to breathe His own life into the nostrils of Adam. This is no withdrawn, far off God. This is a God with us, near at hand.

Scholars point out that the term used for “breath” is one the Bible applies to God and humans, not animals. We are not just another animal. We are made in the image of God. With intellect, morality and capability of critical and abstract and spiritual thought. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Genesis 2:8-9 – 8 The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he placed the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God caused to grow out of the ground every tree pleasing in appearance and good for food, including the tree of life in the middle of the garden, as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Eden means paradise, or pleasantness – garden of delight. It was going to be man’s home, his temple, and his workplace. Naturally, he’d be able to venture out if he wanted, but this was his base of operations. It would be here that he would begin to cultivate and administrate the planet. Meanwhile, we see that God stocked it full of fruit trees. Adam wouldn’t have to wait to eat until he grew the grain himself. All that he needed on a practical level was supplied.

At the same time, the Garden wasn’t just a utilitarian place. It was a place of pleasure and aesthetic beauty. The fruit trees weren’t just for eating, God wanted Adam to enjoy looking at them too.

This idea that true Christianity means living in a burlap tunic, out in a hut somewhere with no pleasure, no enjoyment, no delight, that’s not what God wants. Obviously God doesn’t want us to worship material things or obsess over food and clothing. But He gave us these things for our enjoyment. Being an ascetic monk does not make you spiritual. In fact, in many ways it makes you an ingrate. Enjoying and creating beauty in this world is important and it’s Godly. Beautiful music, beautiful stories, pure and beautiful works of art. These are expressions of the image of God.

What’s a way of applying that if you’re not a creative person? Well, for one, guys – let your wives decorate your house! I know money can get tight and sometimes people fall into the Pinterest trap of comparison and discontent. But there’s nothing wrong with a beautiful home or a beautiful church building. In fact, it can reflect the work of God.

There were two trees in the middle of the Garden. It was a reminder that all of life is to be centered on a relationship with God who made us. A relationship in which we enjoy His abundant provision and submit to His perfect direction and allow Him to define reality.

We’ll never eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But you and I will eat from the tree of life (that is, if you’ve been born again). In Revelation 22 we’re told that, in the New Jerusalem, these trees are lining the river of life which flows from the throne of God. They will bear twelve different kinds of fruit, producing one each month. Now, that’s just downright fun!

Genesis 2:10-14 – 10 A river went out from Eden to water the garden. From there it divided and became the source of four rivers. 11 The name of the first is Pishon, which flows through the entire land of Havilah,, where there is gold. 12 Gold from that land is pure; bdellium and onyx are also there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon, which flows through the entire land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Tigris, which runs east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

We don’t know where Eden was. The truth is, earth’s geography was undoubtedly very different before the flood. But, remember, Moses is speaking to a real audience somewhere in the wilderness of Sinai. And, even though we can’t be sure the rivers listed still existed, it’s clear that the general direction was somewhat known to the children of Israel. He said, “It would’ve been east of us. Over near where the Assyrians are and near these other regions.”

There’s a lot of speculation, we just don’t know where to put the pin in the map. But here’s what’s more important: This is a record of places which were actual, geographical locations. Now, Peter said in 2 Peter 3 that the world as it was known before Noah perished with the flood. And we see here that verses 11 through 14 speaks in the present tense. This gives us indication that it is Adam writing the account which has been delivered to Moses. But, the important thing is that this is clearly not meant to be read as a myth, but a report. It talks about certain places and directions and deposits of minerals and the quality of the minerals there.

Speaking of which, that clues us in to the idea that Adam and Eve understood something about the mining and refining of gold. How to access gemstones. These weren’t cavemen. They were incredibly intelligent, astute people.

Genesis 2:15 – 15 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it.

It’s exciting to see here is how God brought man into this special place. It reminds us of those moments on shows like Fixer Upper where they bring the family home and reveal the splendor of the build and then say, “Welcome home, it’s all yours!” In ancient Israel, there would be a time of betrothal between a man and a woman. The man would go, for quite some time, and prepare a home. Then one day he would show up again to lead the bridal procession and show his wife the home he had prepared. We see this personal, romantic element in God’s actions toward man.

Of course, we know the same thing is going to happen for us, but in an even more glorious way. The Bridegroom has been away, busy preparing a place for us, and He will return and we will be brought home to paradise where we will be with the Lord forever, in joy and worship and service.

The terms used for “work” and “watch” are the same used later in serving God and worshipping Him. Though man has been driven from the garden, we’re still to work and watch for the Lord. Meanwhile, God watches over us and works on our behalf.

Genesis 2:16-17 – 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”

We know the story, but let’s look at this command for a moment. It opens with liberty. “Here is My command: You are free to eat of any tree!” Those who picture God as an angry, withholding, rule-making accountant do not know the God of the Bible. He begins by commanding Adam to enjoy freedom and abundance and the many delights of what God had provided. But then there is a limitation given. Of the multiplied thousands of trees, there is just one that they must not eat from. Why? So that man could choose whether he would trust God or not – whether he would obey God or not – whether he would reciprocate selfless love toward God or not.

Perhaps Adam asked, “Wait, what’s ‘evil’?” We know what evil is, thanks to Adam and Eve’s failure. They had “good” all around them. God had pronounced creation very good. So if Adam were to say, “what is good?” God could answer, “All you see around you.” If he asked, “What is evil?” God would say, “You don’t need to know what evil is, only that it is the most dangerous thing imaginable.”

A fish doesn’t need to know what air is, only that being out in the air will kill it. Same with Adam and Eve when it came to evil. The boundary God was giving them was a good thing. It was a necessary thing. They must not eat it because if they ate it “dying they would die.”

The same choice is still presented to human beings today. There’s not a real, physical tree of the knowledge of good and evil anymore, but we’re still presented with the option: Will we trust God and obey His commands which show us how to have a full and blessed life, or will we go another way? Moses would later put this choice before the Israelites and say, “I’m setting before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life! Love the Lord and obey Him…for He is your life.”

Genesis 2:18 – 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him.”

It’s not that God forgot to make a companion for Adam. Rather, in the creation of woman, God wanted to show just how perfect she would be for him, that there was no other, better way.

At the same time, we see that God was providing for Adam that which would allow him to fulfill his purpose. God had told man, “be fruitful and multiply, fill the whole earth.” But, at this moment, it was impossible for Adam to fulfill that command. God did not say, “Figure it out!” Instead, He Himself provided all that was needed so that man could do what he was being asked to do.

Genesis 2:19-20 – 19 The Lord God formed out of the ground every wild animal and every bird of the sky, and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the sky, and to every wild animal; but for the man no helper was found corresponding to him.

Adam was the first biologist. It is astonishing to read, ‘Whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.” God gave true ownership and authority to man. At the same time, the Lord was showing man how unique he was and how hopeless he was without God’s intervention. Adam could not create a companion for himself. He could not fulfill his purpose without the Lord accomplishing it. And he would have to wait on God’s timing and God’s provision.

Genesis 2:21-22 – 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place. 22 Then the Lord God made the rib he had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man.

The word used for “rib” here is never translated as “rib” in any other passage. Rather, it speaks of an entire side. It seems that a big chunk of Adam was taken out. Why put Adam to sleep? There’s no pain in the garden. Well, this action accomplishes a lot of things. It pictures the death of Christ thousands of years later, whose wounded side led to the creation of His Bride. It demonstrated to Adam that God still exerts His power and will over the physical universe. It also shows that, in some things, there is nothing that man contributes to the work of God. Yes, man would contribute cultivation and dominion. But this act was all God.

The aftermath would also give Adam a lot to think about. He would go through life with his side unprotected. In some sense, it would be best for him to keep his wife close to his heart as a shield and a help.

God fashioned this woman and then brought her as yet another gift to man. It was God’s greatest gift to Adam. We can see how excited and involved and personal God was about all of this.

Genesis 1:23-24 – 23 And the man said: This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called “woman,” for she was taken from man. 24 This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.

Adam was also the first poet! He agrees with God here that man was not made to be solitary. Lots of animals out there are. They cruise around, only interacting with others of their kind every now and then. Not humans. And certainly not the people of God. God made us to be in community and to live with one another and to interact in significant ways, truly living life side by side.

The primary way we do so is in a marriage relationship. That is the first relationship God established for human beings. Now, listen, Adam had to have a wife, otherwise there is no human race. This text is meant to be a general explanation, not a universal mandate. As we read the rest of Scripture it becomes clear that God directs some of His people to remain single. And, if that is the case, you are not more or less human or more or less Christian. But, generally speaking, people get married. And the standard for what that is has been established from the beginning of human history. Marriage as God intended, which leads to a meaningful and fulfilled life, is one biological man and one biological woman living together in a unified, monogamous relationship. That is the standard and the ideal. Sin has ruined that in many, many cases. But this is the design we’re seeing. Two people, unified together in a special way that trumps every other human relationship.

But what does this mean for us? Time only permits me to speak to those who are not married. If you’re not married, here’s what this means: First, seek God on whether He wants you to get married. Adam didn’t go out and find Eve, God brought her to him. If God’s will is for you to get married, then He has a specific spouse in mind for you. It is very important that you allow Him to bring that spouse to you. If He does, that person will be a believer, of the opposite gender, who is ready to commit their lives to you and vice versa. Together, you are meant to bond in affection and understanding and spiritual pursuits and on every human level.

Genesis 1:25 – 25 Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.

Unsullied by sin, they were completely open and uninhibited. They had no need to feel vulnerable because there was no threat.

Look at all God had provided for this couple! The place they were in, the provisions for their life, the purpose He gave them, the partnership found in one another. They had it all.

Now, for some application as we close. If you’re like me maybe you thought, “Well, shoot. These people had everything perfect and they still messed everything up. How can I hope to live up to God’s want for my life?”

It’s true, sin has fouled up a lot. Our world is ruined by it. Our minds and hearts are infected with it. But God is still the same. The generous, caring love He had for our first parents is the same He has for you and me. He has provided all we need to enjoy everlasting life, life more abundantly. He sets it all before us in His word. We can still choose to go His way. Or we can choose to die.

Going God’s way has become harder now that sin is in the picture, but God still gives all the power and provision we need to receive the life He’s made for us. It won’t be without difficulty. But His provision and tenderness has not been cheapened in any way. Instead, knowing how intricately He wants to be involved in our lives and how much He has provided, we should allow Him to bring us into the places and relationships that He desires and then we should seek His will in our jobs, our marriages, our interactions with this world.

“But I want to do my own thing.” You can do your own thing. It’s just going to lead to death and ruin. God’s commands are for our good and so that we can lay hold of the incredible, lavish gifts He wants to give us. Along the way, He uses our homes, our words, our relationships, our efforts to bless us, to bless this world, to beautify whatever corner of the Garden in which He’s placed us. And we look forward to that day when He finally brings us to our forever home, a place with no more shame, no more pain, no more shortcomings. Where at last all will be made right and perfect and we commune with God face to face.

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.

Prophecy Update #662 – Knock, Knock, It’s The President

We reserve a few minutes each Sunday to discuss current trends in the light of Bible prophecy.

We are futurists. We interpret the unfulfilled prophetic portions of the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation, and all other unfulfilled prophecies, as future events occurring in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.

Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence, cashless commerce, the manipulation of human DNA, global government, and the exponential growth of human knowledge are all areas we see corroborating the End Times prophecies of the Bible.

We have for many decades understood from Bible prophecy that the End Times would feature a cashless, contactless global system of economics. Something in or on a person’s hand or forehead will allow them to conduct all necessary business and commerce.

The world leader we commonly call the antichrist will take control of this system and thereby take control of his citizens.

One pretty good argument against this ever happening was that the world’s governments would never be able to force everyone into participation. It’s an argument that is being undermined before our eyes, thanks to the global pandemic.

I read a post on MedicalExpress.com titled, Compulsory jabs: Pressure grows on anti-vaxxers.

Excerpts:

A growing number of countries and territories around the world are forcing people to be vaccinated against COVID19.

Tajikistan and the Vatican are among the rare countries imposing vaccinations on all adults. In ex-Soviet Tajikistan the official news agency has published a government decree obliging all over 18s to be vaccinated, without giving further details.

In the Vatican, the world’s smallest state, vaccinations were made obligatory for residents and workers in February, with those refusing liable to be sacked.

Italian doctors and health workers in the public and private sector must get vaccinated or face being banned from working directly with patients.

On June 16 the British government announced all care home staff in England will need to be fully vaccinated. If approved by parliament, the new legislation means anyone working in a care home must have two doses of a vaccine from October unless they have a medical exemption. The rules will apply to all workers employed directly by the care home, as well as to agency workers and volunteers.

The mayor of Moscow ordered mandatory jabs for residents of the Russian capital working in the service industry on June 16. Some 60 percent of all service industry workers in Moscow – just over two million people – were ordered to be fully vaccinated by August 15.

Since then other localities have taken similar measures, including badly-hit Saint Petersburg.

Kazakhstan on July 1 ordered mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for a wide range of workers who come into contact with others. Those who refuse will be restricted from working face-to-face with other people.

The city of San Francisco has announced it will require all municipal employees to be vaccinated or they could face penalties up to and including dismissal. The new rule will not take effect until the vaccines have received full approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, which has so far given the green light for their use on an emergency basis due to the pandemic.

More than 150 employees at the Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas have already been fired or resigned after failing to comply with orders to get a shot.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-compulsory-jabs-pressure-anti-vaxxers.html

I listened to a short clip of an official in New Zealand saying they would be “chasing out” those without vaccination or who “missed their bookings” to be vaccinated. He said “everyone will be able to get a vaccination,” noting that some of them “we will have to go out and look for… Go out and find.”

The NY Times reported, “Faced with a steep decline in vaccination rates, President Biden said on Tuesday that his administration would send people door to door, set up clinics at workplaces and urge employers to offer paid time off as part of a renewed push to reach tens of millions of unvaccinated Americans. But top health experts say that it is simply not enough, and that the president needs to take the potentially unpopular step of encouraging states, employers and colleges and universities to require vaccinations to slow the spread of the coronavirus.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/06/us/politics/biden-vaccines.html

I’m presenting a prophecy update, not giving you opinions about COVID19 and whether or not to be vaccinated. Those are your personal choices.

I’m pointing to how easy it is becoming to force participation upon the entire global community.

COVID19 has accelerated acceptance of invasive methods that could easily be the precursor to the global cashless, contactless system of commerce we have long expected from reading the Bible.

We believe the resurrection and rapture of the church is imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it. It will happen before the Great Tribulation.

• Jesus will return in the clouds.
• He will raise the dead in Christ.
• He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies.
• We will all join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!