Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Revelation 12 - The Woman and the Dragon

The events that follow are about the seventh trumpet, which are the last 7 judgments.  These are described in chapters 15 - 18.  Chapters 12, 13, and 14 summarizes the same period.  This period is called the Great Tribulation.  John wrote about events that happen before those troubles or judgments.  He takes us back to the original rebellion when Satan is cast to earth along with 1/3 of his angels.

John in heaven saw a great sign: a woman clothed with the sun, moon at her feet and crown of 12 stars on her head.  She was with child and cried out being in labor and in pain to give birth. (Rev. 12:1-2).  This woman is Israel and the child is Jesus.  This refers to the birth of Jesus and Christianity.  The pain is the period when Israel waited for the promised Messiah to come.

Then he saw another sign, a red dragon with 7 heads and 10 horns and on his head were 7 crowns.  This red dragon is Satan.  His tail swept away 1/3 of the stars and threw them to earth.  These stars are angels who followed Satan.  The dragon stood before the woman (Israel) ready to devour her child (Jesus).  She gave birth to a son who is to rule all the nations.  God protected her child and took Him up to His throne. (Rev. 12:3-5).  This refers to Jesus’ resurrection and is now setting on the right hand of God.  When He returns, He will rule over all nations and the King of Kings.

The dragon is described as red because of his murderous and destructive personality.  His 7 heads, horns and crowns are evil governments that come from Satan himself.  He rules over them.  His tail sweeping 1/3 of the stars is the description of the original demonic uprising against God.  These are called fallen angels who serve Satan.

The woman fled into the wilderness prepared by God and there she will be nourished by 1,260 days.  During the last 3 ½ years Satan will try to kill all the Jews, but God will protect those who believe and will keep them safe. (Rev. 12:6)  I think this refers to a time when Israel will take refuge among the Gentiles nations where God will care for her during the Great Tribulation.

When have you felt Satan pursuing you?
How did God protect you?

Do you feel guilty over past sins that you have already confessed and been forgiven? 
When Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.

John saw a war in heaven with Michael and his angels against the red dragon (Satan) and his angels.  This war will happen sometime during the tribulation.  Satan and his angels will be defeated and be thrown down from heaven forever. (Rev. 12:7-9)  Remember Satan use to be an angel, but wanted to be equal with God.  He was thrown out of heaven along with angels who followed him, but still could go back and forth from earth and heaven.  Michael is one of the chief angels of God.  In this war that John is seeing, Michael defeated Satan and his forces and now they had no access to heaven.   Not only will Satan be defeated in heaven, but he will be defeated on earth as well when he and his demons will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

How does God’s power give you comfort and courage?  We see in Job 1-2 that God is in control and Satan must ask God for permission before he messes with God’s people.

Then John heard a loud voice in heaven.  “Now have come the salvation, and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ.  For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.  They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”Rev. 12:10-11

“Who accused them before our God day and night” – The devil is tossed out once and for all time.  His time is soon over and he knows it.  During the last half of the Tribulation there will be terrible trouble on earth.  It will be his final attempt to deceive people.  Ones of his favorite places to water down God’s Word and Jesus is in the church.  He wants to prevent the reign of Christ.
“They overcame him by of the blood of the Lamb” - When Jesus became the perfect Lamb sacrifice, Satan was defeated.  We have the ultimate victory through His sacrifice.  
“And by the word of their testimony” - When we open our mouths and declare Jesus is Lord and believe in Him and what He did, we are saved.  When we speak His truths, we are witnesses for Him to others.
“They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death”- Life on earth is not valuable.  Only life in heaven is important.  That is where our home is.

Where will you spend eternity?
Have you declared Jesus as your Lord?
If not, what are you waiting for?

SATAN IS REAL!  Satan is also called the serpent of old, the father of lies, a deceiver, and a murder.  His mission is to lead the whole world astray.  God is more powerful than Satan.  Satan is under God’s control and he can only do what God allows.  He cannot be everywhere at once like God.  He can temp only 1 person at a time, but his demons are everywhere.  He does not know the future, but only know what God allows him to know.  He runs around the world seeking to devour anyone he can.  He knows his time is short so he is working extra hard.  He doesn’t bother the lost, because he already has them.  He is after the believer.  He causes trouble, doubt and sickness.  He accuses us before God, but we know we are triumphal.  We know who wins in the end.

  “Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”Rev. 12:12.  He was defeated when Jesus died on the cross and rose again.  Those who believe in Jesus have overcome the world and Satan.   

Satan could not kill the child so he turned his attention to the woman.  These are the Jews that are true believers and trust God.  God will protect them in the last 3 ½ years.  The dragon will try to hurt the woman, but will not be able.  God promised to protect Israel during the last days and He will do what He promised.  God will save Israel.   “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring”. (Rev. 12:13-17)  Satan can’t get Jesus so he goes after His followers.

God’s people will suffer during those last 3 ½ years.  Many will die because of their belief in Jesus.  What a terrible time that will be. 

If you have friends or loved ones who don’t know Jesus, what are you going to do about it?

Next week we will study Revelation 13 and learn about the beast that comes out of the sea, which is the Antichrist.  You don’t want to miss that.  Hope to see you here.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Revelation 10-11 – The Little Scroll and the Two Witnesses

 Revelation 10 – The Little Scroll

John saw another strong angel with a little book in his hand.  He put his right foot on the sea and the left on the land.  This must have been a very large angle with great authority and what is about to be revealed will affect all people of the world.  He cried out like a roar of a lion and 7 peals of thunder responded.  John doesn’t tell us what the thunder said, because a voice from heaven said, “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken, and do not write them.”Rev. 10:4.  This tells us there are still things about the future and we don’t known until that time.

Then the strong angel lifted his right hand to heaven and swore that there will be no more delay – the Day of the Lord is coming.  The seventh angel will sound his trumpet.  Then the mystery of God is finished.  God had been merciful waiting for all people to come to Him, but there will be no more waiting.

Then John was told, “Go, take the scroll which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land… Take it and eat it; and it will make you stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” Rev. 10:8-9.  John ate the scroll or book which was sweet in his mouth, but it made his stomach bitter. 

The words of the little book were the words of God so it was sweet, but why did it become so bitter?  Maybe it was that the contents were so awful and terrible.  There would be such persecution and desolation of earth that the thought of it made John sick to his stomach.  This book was a message to people on earth.  It was sweet because it came from God, but bitter because it told of troubles to come.  God’s people would overcome in the end, but before that people would suffer greatly.  The message that there would be no more delay was sweet, but the actual end would be unpleasant or bitter.

God’s Word is sweet, but bitter if you do not believe.  Matt. 11:28 says, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  John 8:24 says unless you believe that I am he, you shall die in your sins.”

What mysteries has God revealed you in this study?
Are you disturbed by the thought of what is revealed in Revelation?
Who will you tell about Christ before it’s too late?

John was told to prophesy again to all the nations.  The end would be soon.  The seventh trumpet was ready to sound.

Revelation 11 – The Two Witnesses

After eating the little book, John was given a measuring rod and told to measure the temple of God.  He was not to measure the court outside the temple, because during the last half of the 7 years (3 ½ years) or 42 months (1,260 days), the holy city (Jerusalem) will be given to the nations (Gentiles) who will tread it under foot.  In Daniel 9 speaks of the 7 year period.  The Gentiles will abuse and disregard the city.  They will worship other gods.  God will allow this to happen.  This final 3 ½ years will be the worst of all.

“I will grant authority to my two witnesses and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” Rev. 11:3.  The witnesses are identified as olive trees and lampstands.  We saw in chapter 7 there would be 144,000 Jewish men preaching to the world, but these 2 witnesses here are special.  They have authority and would be known throughout the world.  They are believed to be Moses and Elijah.  They will prophesy for 1,260 days.  They are wearing sackcloth which shows they are greatly grieved by the evil and unrepentance in the world around them.  The lampstands indicate they are prophesying by the power of the Holy Spirit.

People won’t like what they are preaching and will try to harm them.  When others try to harm them, fire will come out of their mouths and they will be killed.  They will have the power to shut up the sky during the time they are prophesying.  They will have the power to turn water into blood and send plagues to the earth. (Rev. 11:3-6).

God will protect them during this time.  He said if anyone tries to harm them, they must die.  Again, God always protects His own.

Then when the witnesses finish their testimony, the beast that comes out of the abyss in chapter 9 will make war with them and kill them.  The beast is Satan and is given authority by God to do this.  Nothing happens without God’s approval or authority. (Rev. 11:7).

Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city (Jerusalem) for 3 ½ days.  People won’t like what these men have to say and will be afraid of them.  Now that they were dead the people will rejoice.  Their happiness will last only a short time.  After the 3 ½ days lying dead in the street, God will breathe life into them.  This is a beautiful picture of the resurrection for all the believing dead who wait in the grave.  The two witnesses stood up and great fear came over the people.  They were then called up to heaven. (Rev. 11:8-12).

How have you been persecuted because of your testimony for Christ?
How has God protected you?

In that hour where was a great earthquake, 1/10 of the city fell, 7,000 people were killed, and the rest were terrified.  They gave glory to God, but it doesn’t say they repented.  They only recognized there was a God in heaven, but did not repent.  This is God’s judgment on the wicked people. (Rev. 11:13). 

“The second woe is past; behold the third woe is coming quickly.” - Rev. 11:14.  It is now time for the third and final woe.

As the seventh angel sounded his trumpet John was in heaven and heard voices saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”Rev. 11:15.  Satan is no longer the ruler of the world.  God has reclaimed His rightful rule over the earth.  He is still in the cleansing process.  Soon we will see all the wicked followers of Satan judged in the bowl judgments in the following chapters.

The 24 elders fell on their faces and worshiped and thanked God.  Then the temple of God in heaven opened and the ark of His covenant appeared.  There were flashes of lightning, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a great hailstorm. (Rev. 11:16-19)

How do you respond to God and His promises?
Does the thought of Jesus’ return frighten or encourage you?
How has your relationship with Him changed in light of the judgments to come?

The time had come for God to reward or punish all who have died.  He will reward His servants.  He will reward those you believed in Him.  We can be confident that God will save His people even in times of trouble.  For the unbelievers He will punish those who oppose Him.

Are you now a believer after studying Revelation?  If you weren’t before, I hope you are now.  It’s never too late.  God is waiting for you to surrender to Him.  See the bottom of this blog for His Plan of Salvation.

Next week we will study Revelation 12.  Hope to see you here.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Revelation 8-9 – Seventh Seal Broken Brings Judgments to Earth and Unrepentant Mankind

Revelation 8 – 1st – 4th Trumpets
We have seen the breaking of six seals now we are going to see the seventh broken which is focusing on the wrath of God.

When the Lamb broke the seventh seal there was silence in heaven for half an hour.   Why silence?  The wrath of God is beginning and is so dramatic that all worshipping and praising of God stopped.  This silence is in anticipation of the most terrible judgments to ever come upon the earth.  God’s great wrath is coming!  (Rev. 8:1)

John saw 7 angels standing ready to serve God.  7 trumpets were given to them.  These trumpets would bring God’s 7 horrific judgments to the earth.  Another angel stood at the altar and had incense, which held the vengeful prayers of the saints in chapter 6 when they ask God how long would it be before He sent His judgments.  The sweet smell of the incense and prayers went up to God.  Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire and threw it to earth causing thunder, lightning, and an earthquake.  As the prayers go up to God, a fierce storm comes down in response.  This showed that God was angry for the evil deeds of the people.  They would not obey and now He will send judgment on them. (Rev. 8:2-6)

These angels are special angels who have been trained to do a job for God.  As you study your Bible and spend time with God, you are being trained to do a job.  You are being trained to help others - to tell them about Jesus.  You are His witnesses.  The way you live and handle trials will influence others.  They will see you and want what you have.  Always remember there is someone watching what you do and how you react to situations.

Who do you need to tell about Jesus?
Will you pray for them?

Trumpets are used many times in the Bible:
Joel 2:1 – warned that the Day of the Lord is coming.
Exodus 19:14-18 – called the community together to meet God.
Numbers 10:2 – called the community to break up camp.
Joshua 6:2-5 – a signal when God brought judgment on Jericho.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 – will call all believers from the grave.

Now it’s time for the trumpets to sound.  (Rev. 8:7-12)
1st trumpet:
The first angel sounded his trumpet and there was hail and fire mixed with blood which was thrown down to earth.  One third of the earth was burned up.  One third of the trees and all the grass were burned up.  This will be worldwide destruction!  How terrible this will be!
2nd trumpet:
The second angel sounded his trumpet.  John saw something like a great mountain burning with fire and thrown into the sea.  One third of the sea became blood.  One third of everything living in the sea was burned up even one third of the ships were destroyed.  God can use and natural phenomena to judge the world.  It could be an asteroid, tsunamis, earthquakes, or whatever He wants.  But remember He will do it as He says.
3rd trumpet: 
The third angel sounded his trumpet and one third of the waters on earth became bitter because a great star fell to earth.  The star’s name was Wormwood, which means bitter or poison.  Many people died who drank this poison water. 
4th trumpet: 
The fourth angel sounded his trumpet and something struck the sun, moon, and stars.  One third of them became dark and didn’t shine for one third of the day and night.

Each time a trumpet sounds, God waits and provides time for anyone willing to repent.  He could send His judgments all at once, but He doesn’t.  He wants sinners to come to Him as ask for forgiveness.

Then John saw an eagle flying and saying, “Woe, woe, woe, to those who dwell on the earth, because the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the 4 angels who are about to sound!”Rev. 8:13.  Woe means a sign of warnings and troubles.  These first 4 trumpets will be terrible, but the last 3 will be even worse.  They will affect only part of the earth, but the last 3 will affect all people on the earth. 

Revelation 9 – 5th & 6th Trumpets and First Woe

5th trumpet:
The fifth angel sounded his trumpet and a star fell to the earth.  The key to the bottomless pit was given to him.   What is the bottomless pit?  I had a wonderful knowledgeable Bible teacher a few years ago who explained it like this:
There is a place called “Tartarus”, where there are fallen angels (Jude 6).  There is Hades where people’s spirits descend to at death.  Before the resurrection of Jesus, Hades was divided into a place of torment and fire and a place of comfort called “Paradise” or “Abraham’s Bosom”.  Paradise is now empty, because they are all now in heaven.  The Abyss is a bottomless pit leading to Hades.  It is a place of confinement of supernatural beings until the Day of Judgment.  Earth is safe as long as the pit is locked. (Rev. 20:1)  Then on the Day of Judgment, those in Tartarus, Hades, Satan and his followers, and all unbelievers will be thrown in the “Lake of Fire”. (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:14-15).  Maybe the diagram below will help.

The angel opened the bottomless pit and smoke went up like a great furnace and the sun and air were darkened by the smoke.  Out of the smoke came locust and power was given to them.  They were told they shouldn’t hurt the grass or anything green, but only the men who don’t have the seal of God on their foreheads.  These are not normal locusts, since locusts normally like vegetation.  These were demonic locusts – thousands upon thousands of them.  They weren’t permitted to kill anyone, but were to torment for 5 months.  They would sting like scorpions, which is the most intensely painful sting you can receive.  How terrifying! 

The only people protected from the locusts were the ones with the seal of God, like the 144,000 in chapter 7 and anyone who was saved during this tribulation.  God protects is for those who belong to Him.  The pain will be so terrible that people will want to die, but will not be able. (Rev. 9:1-11)  Why did they not wish they were sealed?  Their heart must be so hard and they so stubborn that they would rather die.

God warns repeatedly in Scripture that there will be judgment of those who ignore Him and His Word.  God does, however, provide rescue to those who believe and trust in Him.

The first Woe is past with 2 more to come. (Rev. 9:12)

6th trumpet:
The 6th angel sounded his trumpet and to release the 4 angels who were bound at the river Euphrates.  They were kept ready for the very hour, day, month and year.  These angels were not good angels, but bad.  There was an army of 200 million with fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur breastplates.   One third of mankind was killed by 3 plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths.  Power came from their mouths and tails.  Their tails were like snakes to inflict injury.

The rest of mankind weren’t killed by these plagues, but they still did not repent.  They kept worshiping idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood.  They didn’t repent of their murders, magic, sexual immorality or thefts.  What was wrong with these people?  Why did they not repent after seeing all these horrible judgments?  Sin blinds people.  They see only what they want to see.  They probably tried to reason why all these things were happening.  Maybe they tried to explain them away, maybe blaming it on global warming.  Who knows?  Their hearts were hardened and sin had blinded them.

What sin is blinding you?
Of what sin do you need to repent?

With all these judgments of plagues and death, still people did not repent.  It’s exactly like that today.  People are still worshipping idols like their jobs, homes, family, TV, self desires, sexually immorality, money, etc.  They turn away from God and do not believe His Word or His promises.  If you are not a believer, wake up!  The time is near.  When God’s judgments come, it will be too late.  Christians need to be intentional in witnessing and praying for the lost.  I am sure you don’t want anyone to go through such horrible times that are to come.

Principle:  God will judge the earth and the unrepentant.

How are you prepared for God’s coming judgments?
What idol will you abandon for God?

Wow!  What a terrifying time this will be.  All the more we need to be witnesses for Jesus so others will not have to experience these judgments.  Next week we will study Revelation 10 and 11.  Hope to see you here next week.

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