March 31 - Hallelujah! (pt. 2)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March 31 – Hallelujah (pt. 2)
Revelation 19:6

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting …”

Take a moment to get that sensation in your mind. Allow the immensity and grandeur of those sounds to build up within you.

“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.”

Handel heard the power of that sound and responded with music from His soul. My heart can barely contain the emotion of the moment as I hear what He wrote in response to reading this text. Great multitudes, rushing waters, peals of thunder. Hallelujah!

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints)” (Rev. 19:7-8)

The bride is here. The wedding is occurring.

This wedding now focuses on the bridegroom, not the bride. The bride has made herself ready to be presented to her groom. In this day and age, the focus is completely on the bride. When I owned a printshop, I saw a lot of brides and their mothers coming in to order invitations. Everything revolved around her needs and desires, prepared to her specifications.

On that day – the church – the bride, will prepare itself for the bridegroom – the Lamb. At the end of Revelation 19:8, we see an aside, a note telling us that the righteous acts of the saints are the fine linen of the bride’s dress.

“…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Phil. 3:9)

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10)

Every single righteous act that a Christian performs becomes part of this wedding gown. Think about that! As overwhelming as this entire book of the Bible can be as we read it, each of us individually is part of the whole. Our righteousness in Jesus Christ – through God – is a part of the raiment of the Bride. All of this is being done so that we can be in the throne room participating in worship.

March 30 - Hallelujah! (pt. 1)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 30 – Hallelujah! (pt. 1)
Revelation 19:1-5

Just at the point of complete exhaustion because of all of the terrible things we have experienced in the last chapters of Revelation, we arrive at a new point.

The great multitude has returned in its worship of God. What John hears is a ‘great roar!’ The word that he hears them sing, ‘Hallelujah,’ has never before been heard since the ‘Hallel’ Psalms of the Old Testament. In fact, even in those Psalms, the word is generally translated as ‘Praise the Lord.’

As I think about this word and the fact that it is used for the first time here in Revelation, I think about Handel writing that glorious ‘Hallelujah Chorus.’ The passion and excitement that were his as he was writing “The Messiah” had to have just exploded as he wrote that piece of music. As I’m writing these lessons, I come to this passage and feel a surge of joy and thanksgiving.

“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God!” (Rev. 19:1)

I would like to stop right there, but the next few verses describe the righteous act of vengeance and judgment on Babylon.

Rev. 19:2 tells us that “true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

Only God’s judgment is true and just. Ours are simply acts of retribution. God never calls us to sit in judgment of another, no matter what they have done to us or someone we love. Never. We call ourselves to be judges, but that is not part of God’s plan for our lives.

After many verses and chapters, we return to the throne room along with the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures. They fall down and worship God, crying out, “Amen, Hallelujah!”

So be it. Praise God.

March 29 - The Fall of Babylon (pt. 4)

Monday, March 29, 2010

March 29 – The Fall of Babylon (pt. 4)
Revelation 18:20-24

“Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.” (Rev. 18:20)

Babylon has fallen, God has judged her. Everyone rejoice.

The mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone (Rev. 18:21). Do you know what this is? Our land in central Iowa was the site of a former grist mill. Farmers would bring the grain to have the miller grind it. We discovered the millstone in the river one day. To pull it out, we needed six rather strong men and a tractor. A huge piece of stone. In New Testament times, a millstone would be turned by a donkey (it was turned by the movement of the river here in Iowa). It was probably four to five feet in diameter, about 12” thick and weighed thousands of pounds.

Jesus spoke of a millstone in Mark 9:42 when he said that anyone causing a child to stone would be better off with a large millstone around his neck being tossed into the sea. This sin in Mark and the sin of extravagance and luxury are similar? Interesting how scripture places the punishment for them in the same arena.

The angel made a point in Revelation 18 of throwing the boulder into the sea. That same amount of violence will be used to destroy Babylon.

What are some things which will be lost when Babylon is destroyed?

“The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard from again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again.” (Rev. 18:22-23)

From Isaiah 24:8, “The gaiety of the tambourines is stilled, the noise of the revelers has stopped, the joyful harp is silent.”

In Ezekiel 26:13, we read, “I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more.”

Jeremiah 25:10, “I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of the bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp.”

Eerily reminiscent of the Revelation 18 passage. Arts and entertainment, work and the simple things that bring us joy in our home life are all finished because of the punishment that Babylon deserves.

Babylon is destroyed. All that brings any joy to life on earth is gone. The destruction is nearly complete. I’m exhausted. Death and destruction are difficult to face. It’s hard to accept utter annihilation coming from God, but here we are.

March 28 - The Fall of Babylon (pt. 3)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 28 – The Fall of Babylon (pt. 3)
Revelation 18:9-19

Before Christ returns to reign as King, we have to see the destruction of the world. The final verses of Revelation 18 show us the beginnings of this destruction. This is split into three sections, plus a postlude. In each of these sections, we see the same things occurring, yet to different groups of people.

In Rev. 18:9-10, the kings of the earth lose control of Babylon. In Revelation 18:11-17, the merchants of the earth lose all their wealth and are brought down with the destruction of Babylon. In Rev. 18:17b-19, the seafaring industry is brought down.

In Rev. 18:10, 16, 19 a phrase repeats itself, making us aware of what is to come. “Woe! Woe, O great city …”

For the kings Babylon is a city of power (Rev. 18:10). For the merchants, Babylon is described as dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. (Rev. 18:16) and for the seafaring industry, Babylon is the city where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth.” (Rev. 18:19)

The thing that connects these is the final sentence of the ‘woe.’ For the kings, “In one hour your doom has come!” For the merchants, “In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!” For the sea captains, “In one hour she (Babylon who provided them wealth) has been brought to ruin!”

Each group reacts in exactly the same manner. They are terrified at her torment. The kings stand far off and cry (Rev. 18:9), the merchants weep and mourn (Rev. 18:15) and the sea captains throw dust on their heads, weep and mourn (Rev. 18:19).

Everyone is at a loss as to what to do. It’s over for them. The kings and merchants stand far off from the scene and make scenes. They don’t have the courage to stand in and fight for recovery. They run far away and stand like fools crying out in terror.

The sea captains speak of Babylon and say, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ (Rev. 18:18)

Don’t believe for a second that this is a single city. When Babylon is restored before the end of the world, it will be represented in every part of this earth. We see the beginnings of its restoration now with the extreme luxury that is presented to us. I read an article about expensive things that can be purchased on Amazon.

From June of 2009:
Russian Sable Fur Jacket - Wing Collar - $29,995.00
Charades- Micro Fiber Plush Bunny - $9,999.99
Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt Etching Original Old Master - $275,000.00
Classic Grey Sevruga Caviar - 4.00 lb. / 1800 gr. (Free Overnight Shipping!) - $13,290.50
Queen Anne Cast Iron Table Base: Standard Height: 28.5" - $1,724,998.28
HOE HNDL 54" W/FERRLE ASH - $2,555,557.99
Platinum Sapphire and Diamond Necklace VAN CLEEF & ARPELS - $1,500,000.00
Moschino Vernice Luce A7407 Shoulder Bag - $7,695.00
Princess Mega Series Modular Playground 5 Inch Posts - $43,102.33
Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Mens Watch 25984OR.OO.1138OR.01 - $380,000.00

We are definitely buying into what Babylon represents. The warning from this chapter to us is that it will all be destroyed. God is in control of everything and even though we try to control our little parts of the world, we will ultimately fail.

March 27 - The Fall of Babylon (pt. 2)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

March 27 – The Fall of Babylon (pt. 2)
Revelation 18:4-8

“Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.

Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her own cup. Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.’

Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.”

God has called His people out of sin since the beginning of His relationship with them. Abraham was called to leave His home (Gen 12:1), Lot was called out of Sodom (Gen. 19), the church is called to separate itself from the world (Rom. 16:17-18, 2 Cor. 6:14, 7:1).

Again, the prophet Jeremiah calls the people out of Babylon. Jeremiah 50:4-9 is a prophecy that will be fulfilled at the end of times. Jeremiah 51:6 says, “Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins." And in Jeremiah 51:45 we read, “Come out of her, my people! Run for your lives! Run from the fierce anger of the Lord.”

God doesn’t want us participating in the extravagance and sins of Babylon. Whether it is a physical location or an attitude, He is calling us to run for our lives from its influence!

Babylon’s sins are piled up to heaven (Rev. 18:5). I thought of the Tower of Babel as I read this, but John remembers other passages from the Old Testament.

In Ezra 9:6, we read that their sins were higher than our heads and guilt reached to the heavens. In Jeremiah 51:9b, the judgment of Babylon reaches to the skies, as high as the clouds.

In Rev. 18:6, the angel is given a command from God. The whore of Babylon is about to receive her recompense. When the angel repeated itself in Rev. 18:1 (Fallen, fallen), it was a signal that the payback would be double. All of the glittering raiment that the whore clothed herself in (Rev. 17) will be returned as torture and grief.

Jeremiah 16:18, “I will repay them double for their wickedness and their sin …”

Isaiah 40:2, “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”

When we deliberately sin against the Lord, He must punish us. Does the impact of this statement change anything for you when you realize that Christ not only suffered for our sins, but paid for them doubly?

The whore boasts, “I sit as queen.” Self-glorification at its best. We think we deserve much more attention than we receive.

“I am not a widow.” She doesn’t need anything or anyone.

“I will never mourn.” She avoids suffering. God never promises that we will avoid pain and suffering. He constantly reminds us, though, to look for Him in the middle of it all.

The final sin of Babylon is her luxurious lifestyle – along with that are discourtesy, arrogance, self-indulgence, ruthless exercise of strength and unruliness. All of which is about to be destroyed. With as much sin as Babylon has poured out, she will be paid back doubly.

It will only take one day. God is ready to judge and to exact punishment. After one day, we begin to see the end of everything we are familiar with.

March 26 - The Fall of Babylon (pt. 1)

Friday, March 26, 2010

March 26 – The Fall of Babylon (pt. 1)
Revelation 18:1-3

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted:
“Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!
She has become a home for demons
and a haunt for every evil spirit,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.
For all the nations have drunk
the maddening wine of her adulteries.
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”

We’ll meet the great angel first. We’ve seen a few of these in previous chapters. In Revelation 5:2, a mighty angel asked “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” In Revelation 7:2, the angel carried the seal of the living God and spoke to the four angels who had power to harm the land and sea. Further along in Revelation 18 (Rev. 18:21), a mighty angel flings an immense boulder into the sea.

The angel at the beginning of Revelation 18 illuminates the earth with his splendor. There is one other time that we see this occur. In Luke 2:9-11, the angel of the Lord appears, the glory of the Lord shines and then comes the announcement of the birth of Jesus, the Messiah … the Christ.

Habakkuk 2:14 tells us, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.”

The glory of the Lord is illuminated by the presence of these angels. We will see His glory when they are on the earth. Habakkuk’s prophecy will be fulfilled once again.

The first words out of this angel’s mouth are: “Fallen, Fallen is Babylon the great.”

We’ve seen these words before in Revelation 14:8. At that point, the angels tell John what is coming. Here in Rev. 18, the fulfillment of this lament occurs.

The opening description of Babylon is awful. “She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.”

Jeremiah prophesies in Jer. 50:39 regarding Babylon: “So desert creatures and hyenas will live there and there the owls will dwell. It will never again be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation.”

I love the sounds that birds make in the morning, but unclean and detestable birds such as crows and grackles make me shiver. Having a panicked bird in an enclosed space like my home or office panics me! I can’t stand to have them fluttering overhead. Would you believe I’ve never had the courage to watch Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

All of this imagery flows together in my imagination of the desolate place the fallen Babylon will be. Isaiah also prophesies about the fallen Babylon in Isaiah 13:19-22. God will overthrow the city and it will be turned into a wasteland. He also tells us that desert creatures will lie there: jackals, hyenas, owls and wild goats.

Rev. 18:3 takes us back to yesterday’s lesson. The nations and kings have become drunk on the wine of the whore’s adulteries. The merchants of the earth grew rich from her excess. Babylon’s lessons are easy to learn, it will be awful if we are required to learn them over and over in our own lives before Jesus returns.

March 25 - The Great Prostitute (pt. 4)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March 25 – The Great Prostitute (pt. 4)
Revelation 17:15-18

“Then the angel said to me, ‘The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are people, multitudes, nations and languages. The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.’” (Rev. 17:15-16)

The water we saw at the beginning of the chapter represents the people ruled by the beast and the great prostitute. No matter what, they hate the power that rules them. We’ve seen kings of the nations give up their power to the beast, but the people that live under these kings will finally revolt.

The time will come when they destroy Babylon completely to get out from under the tyranny of her extravagances.

“For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled.” (Revelation 17:17)

These words bring me great assurance. God is in complete control. God gave the beast power to rule – to bring about God’s purpose. God gave the beast power to rule – only until God’s words are fulfilled. God’s control is complete. He is the one running the show. It may seem as if the secular world is in control of our future, but never forget that God has sovereignty over all things.

“The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” (Rev. 17:18)

There is much discussion as to the identity of the great prostitute. For centuries, she was identified as Rome – the Catholic Church. Some say this comes from an interpretation of Rev. 17:9 (The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits).

Rome was called the city of seven hills. The names of these hills are: Aventine, Palatine, Caelian, Quirinal, Capitoline, Viminal and Esquiline.

However, I tend to agree with other scholars. When John identifies a location with a name, he generally means it. Babylon is Babylon. The seven hills exist as the seven heads of the beast. The only connection they have with the prostitute is that she is seated astride the beast. The whore will rule over the kings of the earth. The apostate church will rule over world politics. Though she has great power, it won’t last for long.

March 24 - The Great Prostitute (pt. 3)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March 24 – The Great Prostitute (pt. 3)
Revelation 17:4b-14

“…She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. This title was written on her forehead: ‘ Mystery. Babylon the Great. The Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the Earth.’ I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her I was greatly astonished. Then the angel said to me: ‘Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has seven heads and ten horns. The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.” (Rev. 17:4b-8)

The cup is golden and beautiful on the outside, but filled with filth. Jeremiah tells us that when the earth drank from that cup they got drunk on it and then went mad.

The whore has a name written on her head. Early temple prostitutes would wear headbands with their names on them so they could be quickly identified by customers. John was astonished because she was completely drunk.

“This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.” (Rev. 17:9-11)

We see the familiar phrase again, “This calls for a mind with wisdom.”

The angel tries to explain the seven heads on the beast. Again, just as it was with the explanation of the number 666 in Revelation 13:18, we don’t have a firm idea of who these seven kings are. There were Gentile kingdoms that opposed Israel throughout its history: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and then during John’s lifetime – the Roman Empire. That’s six. The seventh kingdom will be the future kingdom of the beast. The eighth king will come from the confederacy of the seventh kingdom, but will be given power directly from Satan himself.

At the time John was writing, five of the kingdoms had fallen. Rome was in power and the future would bring about the final power.

“The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings – and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” (Rev. 17:12-14)

The ten horns represent a confederation of kings around the world that will unite to give authority over their kingdoms to the beast. Many people reacted when the European Union was brought into being. There were originally ten nations that signed that agreement. However, since that time others have joined and skewed the number. I don’t think we need to worry about that quite yet.

These ten kingdoms will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb overthrows them. We’ll read about this battle in Revelation 19. The good news is that we are already assured of the outcome.

March 23 - The Great Prostitute (pt. 2)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 23 – The Great Prostitute (pt. 2)
Revelation 17:3

The beast that holds the woman is the political power ruling the world. For a time, the whore will direct the movement of the beast. In essence, the apostate church will direct the politics of the world.

But soon, the prostitute will be destroyed and we find that the water is symbolic of the peoples, nations and languages. They will completely destroy her.

When the church runs the political powers, it opens itself up to the sin that power offers. As I’ve studied the History of the Church, we’ve already seen this occur. There is an inextricable link between power and sin. When the church opens itself to power, it opens itself to sin.

Eugene Peterson says, “Worship under the aspect of the great whore is the commercialization of our great need and deep desire for meaning, love and salvation. Whore-worship thrives by naming the worst things about us – pride, lust, envy, greed and anger with the designation – god. The diabolical inversion of ‘you are bought with a price’ to ‘I can get it for you wholesale.’”

This type of deterioration is seen in nearly every church today. The heart of the church is generally honest and true to the message of the saving grace of Jesus, but the trappings become more nad more extravagant and are geared to the healthy and wealthy. When we begin to emphasize the excess: the building, the programs, the outer image of the church; we find that the orthodox message is lost in the noise.

The message of Jesus gets lost in our personal ‘stuff’ as well. We’ve worked hard for it and deserve it. We focus on it and on the extravagance of someone else’s stuff. We’ve bought into the materialism of the world and this drowns out the truth that God wants us to live.

This is one of the strongest warnings found in Scripture. Israelites were constantly warned about consorting with other tribes. James 4 warns Christians about falling prey to the things of the world.

James 4:1 – Fights and quarrels among us come from desires that battle within us. James 4:3 – When we ask God, we don’t receive because we have wrong motives. James 4:4 – friendship with the world is hatred toward God. James 4:7 – We must submit to God and resist the devil so that he will flee from us. James 4:9 – Grieve, mourn and wail. James 4:10 – Humbles ourselves before the Lord and he will lift us up.

We aren’t to be condemned for the things we own, but we must remember that the extravagance of the world belongs to the whore of Babylon … to the beast. The gold, pearls, scarlet and purple stand in direct contrast to the very simple white linen that is bright and clean … the garment found in the closet of the Bride.

March 22 - The Great Prostitute (pt. 1)

Monday, March 22, 2010

March 22 – The Great Prostitute (pt. 1)
Revelation 17:1-2

“One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.’

“Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.”

The entire seventeenth chapter deals with the harlot, the whore of Babylon. She seems to epitomize all the sin of the world.

We see her sitting on many waters. John is taking us back to the prophet Jeremiah. Babylon has long been considered the greatest enemy of Israel and it has also been considered a great enemy of righteousness. Jeremiah’s prophecy is about to be fulfilled.

“You who live by many waters and are rich in treasures, your end has come, the time for you to be cut off.” (Jeremiah 51:13)

Jeremiah was an active prophet during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and prophesies immediate and future events. He offered the Israelites a hope for a better future after they had been removed from their home, their lives, their temple and everything that made them a community.

In Revelation 17:3, the angel carries John to the desert. Since John tells us that he was carried away in the Spirit, we should recognize that this is a vision and not an actual occurrence.

The woman is now seated on a scarlet beast. If you look back at Revelation 13:1-2, you will see that this is the beast from the sea, the one identified as the antichrist. We learn something new about him. He is described as being scarlet. This is the same color as the dragon in Revelation 12:3 and in Isaiah 1:18 is the color of sin.

Scarlet is a symbol of atonement. In Leviticus 14:4-6, a piece of scarlet yarn is part of the process used to cleanse a person of disease. In Matthew 27:28-29, Jesus was forced to wear a scarlet robe and a crown of thorns.

Back in Revelation, the woman is dressed in purple and scarlet, glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. Purple and scarlet were very expensive dyes. To wear both colors was a symbol of complete extravagance.

Before we get there, I want you to watch for an astounding contrast to come. The whore is dressed in extravagant colors and jewelry. She is quite a sight to behold. By the end of all this, we will see the Bride of Christ. In Rev. 19:8, she is given fine linen – bright and clean – to wear. As you consider this contrast, realize that the Bride of Christ is the church and the whore is the apostate church – the desecration of everything holy.

March 21 - Seven Bowls of God's Wrath (pt. 3)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 21 – Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath (pt. 3)
Rev. 16:17-21

“The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!”

Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.” (Rev. 16:17-21)

We don’t see exactly what happened when the seventh angel poured out his bowl, but we do hear the voice from the throne calling “It is done!” This is divine completion. Seven bowls filled with God’s wrath and judgment have just been released.

We’ve seen over and over how God’s fury has been sent to earth in lightning, thunder, and earthquakes. The earth can barely contain itself under this pressure. These are natural occurrences like we have never seen. Cities are collapsing all over the world. He singled out Babylon the Great and poured out His fury on that city. This city symbolizes everything that the secular world is and has done to separate God’s people from Him.

Islands are lost, mountains are flattened, hailstones rain down to destroy mankind.

These plagues are quite unlike the partial plagues we’ve seen up to this point. These are full-strength. In Revelation 8, the trumpet blast brought about the destruction of 1/3 of the waters, but here in Revelation 16, the entire water system is destroyed. In Revelation 8, 1/3 of the light from the sun, moon and stars is gone. Here in Revelation 16, the sun has full power to harm mankind.

Yet through all of this, mankind cursed God. There was no more repentance.

This is what separates those people of God from those who are hard-hearted and continue to curse God. Rather than seeing God’s awesome power, they can only curse His name.

March 20 - Seven Bowls of God's Wrath (pt. 2)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March 20 – Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath (pt. 2)
Rev. 16:8-

“The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.” (Rev. 16:8-9)

Notice the response of hard-hearted people. Even after all of this, they (we?) still refuse to repent and glorify God.

“The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.” (Rev. 16:10-11)

“The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.” (Rev. 16:12-14)

Read those two verses again. Though this seems a little like a sci-fi movie with frogs coming out of the mouths of the dragon, beast and false prophet, we immediately recognize that their power is now mobile enough to traverse the earth gathering the world for the battle to come.

“’Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.’ Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” (Rev. 16:15-16)

The same warning that Jesus gave us in Matthew 24:42 (or Luke 12:35) is found here. Be ready! HE comes like a thief. I doubt that this literally means you are to stay awake at all times, but you definitely need to stay alert, stay watchful, be aware and watch for the Day of the Lord.

The spirits gather the kings of the earth together to a place that is called Armageddon. That name (Armageddon) means “Mount of Megiddo. There is no mountain in Megiddo and this location is one more of the cryptic references that exists in the Revelation. Megiddo is on the western branch of a narrow pass and an ancient trade route which connected the lands of Egypt and Assyria. Because of its strategic location at the crossroads of several major routes, Megiddo saw many battles throughout history.

There is one last battle that will occur in Megiddo. The kings are being gathered for war.

March 19 - Seven Bowls of God's Wrath (pt. 1)

Friday, March 19, 2010

March 19 – Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath (pt. 1)
Revelation 16:1-7

We’ve experienced plagues that seemed to increase with each new announcement from God. They poured out when the seals were opened, when the trumpets were sounded and finally, the bowls of wrath are being emptied on earth. All that remains after this point will be the final judgment.

These last seven plagues are filled with God’s wrath. As you read the description, your imagination can only partially fill in what is happening. Multiply the pain and agony exponentially. God’s wrath is no longer tempered with mercy and grace. The God that created with the Word is now pouring out His wrath.

Remember what we discovered yesterday, there is absolutely no one in the temple with God right no. No could approach His throne because of His intense fury. So, a “loud voice from the temple says to the seven angels, ‘Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.’” (Rev. 16:1)

They’re here, the final plagues. Only God can cause this destruction to begin.

“The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died. The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.” (Rev. 16:2-4)

Then we have an interruption in the flow.

“Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: ‘You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’

And I heard the altar respond: ‘Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.’” (Rev. 16:5-7)

When the altar responds, who is that? From Rev. 6:9 we know that John “saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.” From Rev. 8:3, we know that the prayers of the saints were on the golden altar before the throne.

All of saved humanity, the saints, approve the righteous judgment of God. Though it seems horrendous and unimaginable, God has the right to judge this earth. We are His creation, we are His children. We come under His rule and when we refuse to acknowledge that, He has the right to punish.

March 18 - Seven Angels, Seven Plagues (pt. 3)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March 18 - Seven Angels, Seven Plagues (pt. 3)
Revelation 15:5-8

"After this I looked and in heaven the temple, that is, the tabernacle of the Testimony, was opened. Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed."

The temple, the tabernacle of the Testimony opens. By specifying that this is the tabernacle of Testimony, we realize that we are looking at the ancient Tabernacle where God's Law first found its home.

The Tabernacle was part of the covenant between God and His people. We read in Exodus 25:8 that God asks the Israelites to make a sanctuary so that He can live among them. Now, the Temple was not part of the same plan. It was David's idea to build a temple for God. God did bless David for desiring to make His home. But, it's interesting to read His response to David, "I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling." (2 Sam. 7:5-7)

As God settled his children into a permanent home, He promised to continue living among them.

The Tabernacle was a plan that came directly from the throne. It was always just a copy of what was in heaven, though. In Hebrews 9:23, Paul describes the necessity of Jesus' sacrifice. The original copy of the heavenly things (tabernacle, etc.) were to be purified with manmade sacrifice.

Out of the Tabernacle of Testimony, the location of God's law, come the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests.

Remember ... white linen was the garment that symbolized purity and was what the priests were told to wear when entering the Tabernacle. We will see this beautiful linen once again as the church's bridal garment in Revelation 19.

One of the four living creatures gave the seven angels bowls filled with the wrath of God. The four living creatures represent all of animate (living) creation. The bowls of wrath will bring disasters to all of creation.

In Revelation 6:1, one of them called forth the four horsemen. Now, they prepare the angels to pour out God's wrath. In Revelation 15:1, we read that they already have the seven plagues, they just needed the wrath of God.

"And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed." (Rev. 15:8)

In Isaiah's vision of heaven (Isaiah 6), one of the things that signified that the Lord was there was smoke.

God's wrath and fury are so intense that absolutely no one could approach Him. Heaven empties. Not even the living creatures or the elders can be in His presence.

God has been dealing with mankind's sin since He created us. Sin is what separates man from God. He can not stand in the presence of sin. His purity will annihilate it and anything that it is contact with. Since the beginning of time, God has promised that He would punish the sins of man, but it has always been tempered with His mercy and His grace. No more. God will allow all of His fury and judgment and wrath to pour out onto the earth. Only those who are sealed by the Lamb will be safe.

Hebrews 10:31 says, "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

It is a dreadful thing ... unless you are sealed by the Lamb.

March 17 - Seven Angels, Seven Plagues (pt. 2)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March 17 - Seven Angels, Seven Plagues (pt. 2)
Revelation 15:3b-4

“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the ages.
Who will not fear you, O Lord,
and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

This song is filled with quotations from the Old Testament.

Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty.
From Psalm 92:5, "How great are your works, O LORD, how profound your thoughts!"

Just and true are your ways
From Deuteronomy 32:4a, "He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just."

King of the ages
From 1 Timothy 1:17, "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name?
From Psalm 86:9, "All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name."

For you alone are holy.
From Psalm 111:9, "He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever— holy and awesome is his name.

All nations will come and worship before you.
From Psalm 86:9, "All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name."

Your righteous acts have been revealed.
From Psalm 98:2, "The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations."

John has an amazing command of the Old Testament, but he is hearing these words come from voices singing before the Lord! His readers would have heard reassuring words - words that they were comfortable with, words that they sang over and over.

March 16 - Seven Angels, Seven Plagues (pt. 1)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March 16 - Seven Angels - Seven Plagues (pt. 1)
Revelation 15:1-3a

"I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed. And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb:"

The last time a great and marvelous (wondrous) sign appeared was at the beginning of Revelation 12 with what we now know is the birth of the Lamb of God. The woman clothed with the sun, moon and stars gives birth to a son. Now, however, the great and marvelous sign brings us seven angels with the last seven plagues.

These are the last plagues because with them God's wrath is finally finished. Again, we miss some of the depth of this passage due to the fact we read it in English. The Greek verb used here actually means that the goal has been completed, rather than meaning it comes to an end. The KJV reads a bit differently:

"And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God." (Rev. 15:1, KJV)

Eugene Peterson paints a picture for us of this scene by saying, "Seven angels of judgment get ready for their work while the congregation sings a hymn."

Music has been a part of warfare since the Battle of Jericho! Both the Greek and Roman armies used instruments to convey information to their troops while they were on the march. Greek armies hired musicians to sing poems of odes that reminded soldiers and citizens of the glories of past heroes. During the Crusades, military bands were used to send orders instantly and was also used to frighten the enemy. How many of us remember when loud rock music was used to flush out Manuel Noriega?

In Joshua 6:15-16, after having marched around the city seven times, the priests sounded a trumpet blast, the people shouted and from the sound of the instruments and voices, the inhabitants of Jericho were terrified, the walls came down, the Israelites charged in and took the city.

The hymn of praise in Revelation 15 encouraged the heavenly residents and glorified God.

In Revelation 4:6 we saw a sea of glass before the throne of God. Here in Revelation 15:2, we find that fire has been mixed in. We learned earlier, that the sea was represented in the tabernacle on earth by the Laver. The Laver was also called a 'sea,' since it held water used by the priests for purification before entering the holy place. (I Kings 7:23-26).

Now we see that it has fire mixed into it. Back in Revelation 8:5, just before the seven angels sounded their trumpets, the angel flings fire from the altar to the earth, a symbol of judgment. This fire burns the sacrificial offerings presented to God. Mixing fire into the sea of glass before the throne of God is symbolic of the judgment that will be poured out with the final seven plagues.

There are some people standing beside the sea of glass. These are those who had been able to stand against the beast and refused to accept his image and the number of his name.

Where do you suppose that the Israelites were standing when they sang the song of victory with Moses after they had escaped the Egyptians? Beside the Red Sea. The symbolism has been drawn from the memories of the Jews.

Barclay says that the song of Moses commemorated the greatest deliverance in the history of God's people. The song in Revelation 15 commemorates the deliverance of the world from Satan's power.

March 15 - The Great Harvest (pt. 2)

Monday, March 15, 2010

March 15 - The Great Harvest (pt. 2)

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27)

Matthew 25:31-33 is the harvest as well. Remember, Matthew 24 and 25 comprise Jesus' teachings on the end times.

"All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left" (Mt. 25:32)

Jesus goes on to offer the sheep their inheritance, the kingdom that has been prepared for them since the creation of the world. And in Matthew 25:41, he orders those on his left hand, the goats, to leave him and go to the eternal fire. One receives eternal punishment, the other group receives eternal life. (Mt. 25:46)

The things that we read in the Revelation are not new concepts. The Great Harvest is very familiar territory. The only thing that is different is that it is no longer simply a concept, it has become very real. This is final, eternal punishment for those that refuse to be a part of God's kingdom.

Let's look at the harvest of the ripe grapes. It won't be an easy harvest, it will be painful. Who is announcing it? The angel that is in charge of the fire. We've met this angel before in Rev. 8:4-5. After this angel offers up the incense together with the prayers of the saints before God, it flung judgment out on the earth. This is the angel that called forth the beginning of judgment.

The grapes are mature. In fact, they are so mature that they are beginning to dry up and become withered. In Luke 8:6 we find that seeds with no moisture become plants that dry up. In Matthew 21:19, this same word is used again regarding a fig tree with no fruit on it. It isn't productive and Jesus causes it to wither.

The grapes in Revelation 14 have nothing left in them that is good, yet they are about to be trampled in the winepress.

The Day of God's Vengeance is prophesied in Isaiah 63:1-6. The Lord will come through, his garments stained the color of crimson, blood spattering and staining his clothing. He tramples the nations in His anger. The rest of these verses speaks of the Lord trampling the winepress with great detail.

The grapes were trampled in the winepress and blood flowed out in Revelation 14:20. An incredible amount of blood flowed from that press, it will rise as high as a horse's bridle for a distance of 1600 stadia or approximately 180 miles. In other words, all of Israel will be flooded with blood at least 3 foot in depth. That is a lot of humanity lost to the heavenly kingdom.

As I work through this lesson, I can't help but hear the words of Julia Ward Howe:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel;
“As ye deal with My condemners, so with you My grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.

All mankind will be part of the grain harvest - reaped by Jesus Christ, or part of the grape harvest - reaped by an angel.

March 14 - The Great Harvest (pt. 1)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

March 14 – The Great Harvest (pt. 1)
Revelation 14:14-20

I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one “like a son of man” with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.

Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia."

Here it is again. The cloud with one like a son of man on it. We aren't to forget this image. When Jesus returns on the cloud, it's over. He IS coming to reign and we continue to read that He will be on the cloud.

He is seated with a golden crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. The sickle has been kept sharp in preparation for the harvest.

Sometimes it's difficult to comprehend the textures of meaning within these verses once they are translated into English. This crown is the victor's wreath, not a ruler's crown. It represents a conquering hero who has won the right to judge.

From the angel, another angel comes and calls to the son of man. It might seem odd that an angel gives instructions to the Lamb, the son of God. But, consider that this is probably a messenger coming from God. The Lord God Himself resides in the temple. This is a message from God that the time of harvest is ready. He has accepted the first fruits, the 144,00, the wave offering.

We have heard about the harvest in the Gospels. I read these passages now with a completely different understanding after seeing them in context with the Revelation.

Matthew 13:24-30. The Parable of the Weeds

"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away."

Do you see God planting His people on the earth. When they weren't paying attention, they became distracted by the things of the earth.

"The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them (the weeds) up?" (Mt. 13:28)

"'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn." (Mt. 13:29-30)

We are easily distracted by weeds in our gardens. Given a moment's thought, I can think of numerous distractions in my own life. These are the things that separate us from God.

John's word in Revelation takes his readers back to the Old Testament as well. In Joel 3:13, we read "Swing the sickle for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow - so great is their wickedness!"

We are about to see two distinct harvests. The first harvest is completed by the Lamb of God, the one seated on the cloud. He swung his sickle over the earth and the earth was harvested. The second harvest is completed by an angel. This is not a retelling of the first, but a completely different harvest.

William Barclay says that the Lord reaps the harvest of his own people, while the angel reaps the harvest of those destined for judgment.

The Lord comes to care for His own!

March 13 - Blessed are the Dead

Saturday, March 13, 2010

March 13 – Blessed are the Dead
Revelation 14:13

“Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from the labor, for their deeds will follow them.’”

This is the second of the Beatitudes in Revelation. John is told to write these words down.

Who are these people? Since we have just seen the torment of those who die and are punished because they accepted the mark of the beast, these are those who were executed because of their commitment to the Lamb. THIS is why we must have patient endurance and faithfulness.

We don’t hear from the Holy Spirit very often. Much of the speaking is done by the Lamb, sometimes God and most of the time by other characters in the throne room. Here we have the Holy Spirit speaking and He brings amazing words of comfort.

As I read the Revelation, my emotions tend to run all over the place. But, at the end of it, I am comforted. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit.

John 14:16, Jesus says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor (Comforter) to be with you forever.”

The Greek word is ‘parakletos.’ In its widest sense, it means: helper, succorer, aide, assistant.

The Holy Spirit brings assistance, help, succor, comfort. For those that faced persecution, they are offered peaceful rest by the Comforter.

March 12 - The Three Angels (pt. 3)

Friday, March 12, 2010

March 12 – The Three Angels (pt. 3)
Revelation 14:9-12

“A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name. This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.”

This may sound awful, but it’s worse than it sounds. There are two components to this punishment. 1) the wine of God’s fury – in full strength, and 2) the cup of God’s wrath. One or the other would destroy any man, but combined they bring torment.

The word ‘fury’ is the Greek ‘thumos.’ This is angry passion and suggests a wine that when drunk will either kill a man or drive him mad. The word ‘wrath’ is the Greek ‘orge,’ a violent emotion of anger used for punishment.

Wine was a common beverage at this time, but was always diluted with water. This wine will be poured out at full strength. There is no mercy to dilute this wrath.

“In the hand of the Lord is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down it its very dregs.” (Psalm 75:8)

“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: ‘Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.’” (Jeremiah 25:15)

Anyone who worships the beast and his image and receives his mark will be forced to drink this wine from God’s cup. There is no option. This is the judgment to come.

After the wine is drunk comes torment in burning sulfur with angels and the Lamb looking on. This is eternal! Forever! As long as we are standing in the throne room there will be people suffering. Burning sulfur equals fire and brimstone … forever. And while they are suffering, they will be surrounded by holiness.

But, even at some point that will be taken from them. “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)

Again, we must be patient and faithful. These things are coming. We must endure and remain faithful.

March 11 - The Three Angels (pt. 2)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March 11 – The Three Angels (pt. 2)
Revelation 14:8

“A second angel followed and said, ‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.’”

In just a few verses we will meet the harlot, Babylon. These words will soon make much more sense. The wine of Babylon represents all types of excessive behavior. This breaks my heart as I see our own culture obsessed with excessiveness. We have to have everything and must have it our own way. We don’t stop with meeting basic needs, but we feel we must have everything we desire.

The angel repeats himself when he says, “Fallen! Fallen …”

In Isaiah 21:9, Isaiah is prophesying against Babylon. “Look, here comes a man in a chariot with a team of horses. And he gives back the answer: Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground.’”

Isaiah’s prophecy tells us that those things we worship (which we see by our obsessive excessiveness) will be destroyed. His prophecy will come to fruition in the last days. The angel brings the warning.

The only other time in the Old Testament that we hear of Babylon the Great is in Daniel 4:30. Babylon had destroyed Jerusalem and sent its people into exile. The Israelites faced great persecution when they chose not to acquiesce to the rigid demands that they set aside their religious beliefs. Many gave in. In the final days, many will have given in to the temptations of the world which separate them from God.

Because the great world power (Babylon the Great – not necessarily, the single city in what we know as Iraq, but whatever world power persecutes religious freedom) will cause many to fall away from their beliefs, she will see great destruction at the hand of God.

March 10 - The Three Angels (pt. 1)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 10 – The Three Angels (pt. 1)
Revelation 14:6-7

“Then I saw another angel flying midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth – to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’”

The word ‘gospel’ means ‘good news.’ The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Good News about Jesus. But, this says that the angel has the ‘eternal gospel’ to proclaim. Is this something different? This is something much more ancient.

Romans 1:18-20, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.”

That’s just the first part of it, but in essence, godless and wicked men are suppressing the truth of God. They know God, because He has shown Himself to them, but their wickedness suppresses that good news!

The Word of God is always under threat of being silenced or muffled. Eugene Peterson says that every time you close your Bible it is silenced, it is silenced by the sound and fury of daily traffic and we silence it by our ambition and covetousness.

Until this point in history, angels have not been allowed to proclaim the Word of God. That has been a function that only man employs. But, here we are at the end, and the Angels are released to preach the ancient good news of God’s creation!

Psalm 33:6-9, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.”

Revelation 14:7 tells us that we are worshiping God who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water. From Psalm 33 and here in Revelation 14, we know that the Creator is worthy of our worship.

Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

The power of worship fills the Bible. Worship has the power to keep evil at bay, worship brings us into constant contact with our Creator. This is the ancient and eternal gospel – the good news about our God, the One who created all things.

March 9 - The 144,000

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March 9 – The 144,000
Revelation 14:3-5

“And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as first fruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.”

While we are on Mt. Zion with the Lamb, we should get to know those who are nearby. There are 144,000 of them. Notice that Jesus didn’t lose any of these people. He went into the tribulation in Revelation 7 with 144,000 and at the end, there remain 144,000. Let’s learn about this group. I don’t know that I want to actually be a part of this group. It comes with a difficult entrance fee.

We’ve heard the new song before (Rev. 5:9), but this time only the 144,000 can learn it. This is a song of deliverance. The 144,000 represent the remnant of Israel. They will be offered as a first fruit offering and by the time we get to the end of Revelation 14, we will see the Harvest of the Earth.

In Leviticus 23:9-14, the Israelites are told to bring a sheaf of the first grain that they harvested to the priest. He would wave the sheaf before the Lord as a sign that the entire harvest belonged to the Lord. Do you see the connection? The remnant, the 144,000 will be the wave offering before the Lord. As He accepts this offering, He will then accept the entire harvest.

The only way they can be acceptable is through their actions. They are virgins. This passage isn’t condemning marriage. No, this group of people has set themselves aside for something far greater than their personal needs.

Israel is sometimes referred to as the virgin daughter of Zion in the OT.

Lamentations 2:13 “What can I say for you? With what can I compare you, O daughter of Jerusalem? To what can I liken you that I may comfort you, O Virgin Daughter of Zion?”

Jeremiah 8:13, “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘Inquire among the nations: Who has ever heard anything like this? A most horrible thing has been done by Virgin Israel.”

The purity of this group is in direct contrast to the harlot we meet in Revelation 17-18. Just prior to this we read about the idolatry and blaspheming of the beasts. In fact, Exodus 34:15 tells us that prostitution is associated with idolatry.

They followed the Lamb everywhere. In Matthew 19:21, Jesus says we are to give up everything and follow him. Mark 8:34, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” It wasn’t so simple to follow the Lamb. It required sacrifice of everything, including ourselves. This is not an easy choice to make.

God continues to fulfill prophecy. From Zephaniah 3:13, “The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will speak no lie, nor will deceit be found in their mouths.” Revelation 14 tells us that they are blameless and no lie is in their mouths. God is amazing.

This group not only worships with the Lamb on Mt. Zion, but as the offering of first fruits of the harvest, they stand as pure and holy. These are the ‘finest,’ the very best, the pure. Though we can never achieve the purity that these 144,000 have, we are covered by grace and mercy through the sacrifice of Jesus. They sacrificed everything in their lives to be the first-fruit offering of the harvest so that we can then be redeemed in that harvest.

Paul, in Romans 11:15-16 says, “For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead. If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.”

The 144,000 – first fruits, wave offering, holy, the remnant. Because of their gift, we are part of the great harvest.

March 8 - Mount Zion

Monday, March 8, 2010

March 8 – Mount Zion
Revelation 14:1-3a

“Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders.”

One of the commentaries says that we are coming to an intermezzo. For all you non-musicians and non-geek musicians, this is the entertainment between two acts of a play – or a movement separating two sections of a lengthy work. In other words, we’re going to read something that is to encourage us. It’s about the final triumph. It isn’t actually happening yet – there is more awful stuff to come, but it’s time to take a breath.

A sound comes from heaven with three components. It sounds like the roar of rushing waters a loud peal of thunder and harpists playing on their harps. Rushing waters show the power of God’s voice, the thunder describes God’s voice as unmistakable and the harpist reminds us that God’s voice is beautiful and filled with melody. These are the little things we learn about God.

God’s voice comes from heaven while the Lamb stands on Mt. Zion. We don’t know what it says, but it is there for us. This is the only time in the Revelation that we read about Mt. Zion. We might not recognize how profound this is, so take a moment with me. God never ceases in His revelation of truth to us.

Back in Revelation 13:1 the dragon stands on the shore of the sea.

Now, in Matthew 7:24-27, the wise man hears the words of Jesus and puts them into practice. He built his house on the rock. The foolish man built his house on sand. God reinforces His truth. The dragon will be washed away, while at the beginning of Revelation 14, we see the Lamb standing on a rock … a mountain.

In Psalm 2:6, we read, “I have installed my King (Jesus – this is a prophetic Psalm) on Zion, my holy hill.”

Turning to Isaiah 11, we find that the Root of Jesse (prophetic for Jesus … and the Lamb that we know in the Revelation) is standing on God’s holy mountain – Zion. The Lord in Isaiah 11:11 is reclaiming the remnant of Israelites. He is gathering the exiles and all the scattered people of Judah together.

Hebrews 12:22-24 says “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”

We are invited to rest awhile on Mt. Zion. This is where the Lamb of God stands. Further along in Hebrews 12 we read, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:28)

In bringing us to this point, we are safe. God’s kingdom cannot be shaken. Not by the dragon, the antichrist or the false prophet. The Lamb stands on the rock and rules a kingdom that can not be shaken.

March 7 - Mark of the Beast

Sunday, March 7, 2010

March 7 – Mark of the Beast
Revelation 13:18

“This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.”

Before I get into the meaning of the number, there is some basic information you need. The mark will be on the right hand or the forehead. This is a reminder to Jews of a sacred custom – wearing phylacteries on their left arm or forehead. A phylactery is a small leather box with scrolls of parchment containing words from the Torah. The box was bound with strips of leather and was to remind them of their covenant.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

The mark itself is a brand. It will be clearly visible. The Greek word used for ‘mark’ is ‘charagma.’ In the ancient world, religious tattooing was very popular. Whatever god you worshiped was generally tattooed on your body. This even occurred among Christians and Jews.

Isaiah 44:5, “One will say ‘I belong to the Lord;’ another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand ‘The Lord’s,’ and will take the name Israel.”

Now this mark is going to limit Christians. Unless we have the mark, we won’t be able to buy or sell. When the third seal was opened, people of the earth had trouble accessing basic needs – now, the mark of the beast focuses on Christians.

There is really no way to unravel the number 666 and point to whom it might be. Ancient Christians assumed it was Nero. In Hebrew, the numerical value of the letters for Nero Caesar adds up to 666. In recent times, the number has been applied to Ronald Wilson Reagan and a roundabout, strange method of mathematical computation assigned the number to Bill Gates. The list can go on and on. We are desperate to identify the name of the beast so we can be prepared.

The number six falls short of perfection (number seven). That there are three digits in the numbers points us to the unholy trinity. We can spend innumerable hours trying to figure this out and worry about it. But, all I can say to you is that when things begin to fall apart and the end of the world is at hand, we will no longer question the identity of the false prophet and the antichrist. We will know.

We are told in Revelation how to protect ourselves.

Revelation 13:10b “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.”

Revelation 13:18, “This calls for wisdom.”

While the antichrist sets up his kingdom, Christians will be persecuted and killed. We must endure. While the false prophet is pointing worship towards the antichrist and then to Satan, Christians will be forced to choose. We must have wisdom.

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

All you have to do is stay in contact with God. Pray, asking for wisdom, and He will give it to you.

March 6 - The Land Monster

Saturday, March 6, 2010

March 6 – The Land Monster
Revelation 13:11-18

The third member of the unholy trinity is now introduced. While the first beast was the political leader and given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation, the second beast is the religious authority.

This is the false prophet and he will point to the first beast as the object of man’s worship. He will perform signs and wonders and will give power to an idol.

He has two horns like a lamb, symbolizing gentleness, but he speaks like a dragon. Gentle, slimy, soothing words that are lies. He exercises all the authority of the first beast on his behalf. Not only does the false prophet use the words of the dragon, or Satan to entrap people, but he has the authority of the antichrist. He will be able to woo nations to their doom by causing them to worship the first beast.

Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit in John 16:14 when He says, “He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” The Holy Spirit brought glory to Jesus Christ. The false prophet glorifies the antichrist.

Rev. 13:13-14a, “And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth.”

We’ve been warned over and over to beware of false prophets. Moses did so in Deuteronomy 13:1-3, Jesus did so in Mark 13:22 and Paul did in 2 Thessalonians 2:9. We’ve been warned, but the beast’s signs caused men to worship the first beast. We were deceived!

Rev. 13:14b-17, “He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.”

He makes an image of the antichrist, gives breath to it, it receives power to speak and power to kill anyone who refuses to worship. A couple of things. The beast gives it power to breathe, but the Greek word here is ‘pneuma’ – breath, not ‘zoe’ – life. And recognize that though it has the power to kill, it doesn’t say the image actually does kill.

This is the abomination of desolation prophesied in Daniel and by Jesus. (Daniel 9:24, 11:31, 12:11; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14).

We will not be taken by surprise! We may worry about the mark of the beast coming to us in the guise of credit cards or medical chip implants, but this tells us that we will know what is coming.

The first beast will set up a world government – he is a political leader. Then, a charismatic religious leader will show up. His job will be to cause people to worship the political leader. He will perform signs and wonders and then will set up the abomination that causes desolation.

These are obvious signs.

Mark 13:22 says, “They will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect – if that were possible. So be on your guard. I have told you everything ahead of time.” He has told us everything. Don’t worry, just be on your guard.