Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Revelation 15 & 16 - The 7 Bowls of God's Wrath

In chapter 15-16 we will see the final outpouring of God’s wrath before Christ’s return.  Chapter 15 begins the preparation for the last 7 judgments of His wrath.  His wrath began in chapter 6 and will be finished with these last 7 judgments.  This chapter is an introduction to these last and final plagues on mankind.  This covers to last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation that is described in chapter 16.

Revelation 15 – Seven Angles with 7 Plagues

7 angels prepare to give out the last 7 Tribulation judgments.  These are called bowls that are full of God’s wrath.  No one can enter the temple until the 7 plagues are finished. (Rev. 15:8) 

John saw 7 angels with 7 last plagues.  “… the seven last plagues – last, because with them God’s wrath is completed.”Rev. 15:1b  Then he saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire.  Standing beside the sea where those who didn’t worship the image, but who had been faithful to God.  They are Tribulation Martyrs who refused to submit to the Antichrist and were beheaded.  God had given them harps and they sang the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.  “Great and marvelous are you 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.”Rev. 15:3-4. 

They are celebrating God’s destruction of His enemies and the redemption of His people.  They praise Him for His excellent and perfect ways.  He is just and sovereign.  We are not to fear the world.  We are to fear God.  Fear is to show reverence to God.  “All nations will come and worship before you” is when Jesus returns and sits on the throne and rules the world.

How are you strengthened as you think about God’s perfect ways?

After this John saw the temple in heaven.  The tabernacle of the Testimony was opened.  Out of the temple came 7 angels with 7 plagues dressed in clean linen and golden sashes.  One of the four living creatures gave to the 7 angels 7 golden bowls filled with God’s wrath.  The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and His power.  No one could enter the temple until the 7 plagues were completed. (Rev. 15:5-8)  This shows that there is serious and severe judgment in progress.

Some people - even Christians think God is only a God of love, but these angels are operating under God’s orders - they are coming out of temple showing they are taking orders from God.  They are clothed in white indicating they are not demon angels, but God’s angels.  Seven shows the completeness of it all.  God will put an end to sin once and for all.  When these 7 plagues are over, Christ will return.

Revelation 16 – Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath

John heard a loud voice from the temple, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”Rev. 16:1  This was the voice of God.  These bowls contain the anger of God.

1st angel – his bowl is poured out on the land and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. (Rev. 16:2)  This shows God’s grace by not bringing judgment on believers.  He will protect them just as He did the Israelites during the plagues of Egypt.
2nd angel – his bowl was poured on the sea and it turned to blood and everything in the sea died. (Rev. 16:3)  Now everything in the sea is dead.  Can you image the stench and potential for disease?

3rd angel – his bowl is poured out on the rivers and springs of water and they became blood. (Rev. 16:4)  This may or may not be literal blood, but if Christ can turn water to wine, He can turn water to blood.  The important thing is the water will not be fit to drink and will breed disease.

Why would God do this?  The 3rd angel tells us that justice is served and that He is just in these judgments and He is the holy One.

4th angel – his bowl is poured out on the sun which scorched people with fire.  The people refused to repent. (Rev. 16:8-9)  Even with lack of water and this great heat people did not fall to their knees and repent.  Have you ever had a bad sunburn?  Well, I am sure it was nothing like this.  They probably were covered with painful sores and blisters.

5th angel – his bowl is poured out on the throne of the beast and his kingdom was plunged into darkness.  Men cursed God because of their pains and sores, but still refused to repent. (Rev. 16:10-11)  This will be world-wide.  The same thing happened during the plagues of Egypt.  This is an illustration of their spiritual darkness, too.  I am sure this brought depression, suicides and all sorts of evil attacks on the mind.  Jesus predicted this, “But in those days, following that distress, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light.”Mark 13:24  Where is their Antichrist now?

6th angel – his bowl is poured out on the great river Euphrates and its water dried up.  3 evil spirits came out of mouths of dragon, the beast, and the false prophet.  Spirits of demons will perform miraculous signs and go out to the kings of the world to gather them for a great battle against God called Armageddon. (Rev. 16:12-16)  These spirits will have power to do miracles just like the Egyptian magicians copied Moses’ miracles, but God has limited their power.  This river was a boundary between the east and the west.  The river was dried up so the kings of the east could cross for the “battle on the great day of God Almighty”.  They would join forces with armies all over the world to battle the King of Kings.  (We know who wins.)

Jesus Himself speaks in Rev. 16:15-16, “Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”  We as believers must be alert as we wait for Him to return.  Remain clothed means to remain true to Jesus.  We have been clothed with His righteousness and we are to continue to life a transformed life.  We are to remain clothes with His character.  We need to be ready by repenting of sin and believe in Jesus for salvation.

7th angel – his bowl is poured out into the air.  A voice came out of the temple, “It is done!”  This voice is probably God Himself.  Then lightning, thunder and earthquake occurred.  No earthquake like it has ever occurred.  The city split into 3 parts and the cities of the nations collapsed.  Islands and mountains disappeared.  Huge hailstone fell upon men.  They cursed God. (Rev. 16:17-21)  God’s final judgment will end with a great earthquake.

These judgments are like the 10 plagues in Egypt when God got rid of their false gods.  In this final judgment He will get rid of all untruths, all sin and all that is against Him.  These judgments are clearly supernatural and everyone will know they are from God.  Instead of falling down and repenting, they curse God.  They refuse to change their ways.  Their hearts are hard and stubborn.  They should have turned from their sin and praised God.  With all these plagues, deaths and sufferings the people did not repent.  Can you image?  What were they thinking?  Talk about being stubborn.  God gave them every chance to repent. 

How have you minimized your sin?  Satan wants you to minimize your sin.  He wants you to justify it and make it seem insignificant.
Have you repented of your sin or are you too stubborn?
Are you independent and think you don’t need God?
Do you plan to go to church and start reading your Bible someday, but not right now?
Are you just too busy to spend time with God?

Through the blood of Christ, Christians are victories despite circumstances experienced on earth.
Those who refuse God’s grace choose God’s inescapable judgment instead.
God’s final judgment will be devastating, purposeful, and complete.

We all deserve these judgments, but Jesus stood in our place so we don’t have to.  Jesus will return!  Will you be ready?  I hope this study will open your eyes before it’s too late.  God is patiently waiting for you to repent and surrender to Him.

 Next week we will study Revelation 17 which covers the specifics of when Babylon is destroyed.  Hope to see you here.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Revelation 14

The book of Revelation speaks to suffering believers.  It was written from a suffering place, by John who was suffering, and to suffering people.  Sin is the reason all suffer, but all suffering in not from sin.  The suffering in the world can be traced back to sin and its curse with the fall of mankind in the book of Genesis.  No suffering can separate us from God’s love.  Believers identify with Christ’s suffering and through our suffering we are brought closer to Him.  Peter called for all believers to rejoice in their suffering, because through it we are identified with Christ.  One day there will be no more suffering.  Until then He holds us in His hands.

How have you suffered?
How are you using your suffering?
Are you allowing Him to come closer to you or are you shutting Him out?
Do you trust God’s purposes in your suffering even though you don’t understand?

Revelation 14 is a preview of the harvesting of the earth.  The believers are separated from the unbelievers and then the unbelievers are destroyed.  It’s a fast forward of what will happen in the end, which we will see in the following chapters. 

Revelation 14:1-5 – The Lamb and the 144,000

John saw the Lamb standing on Mount Zion.  He had the 144,000 with Him.  John heard a roar of like rushing waters and a loud peal of thunder.  He also heard a sound like harpists singing a new song before the throne and before the 4 living creatures and elders.  No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who were redeemed from the earth.  They didn’t defile themselves with women and followed the Lamb wherever He goes.  No lie was found in them and they are blameless.   (Rev. 14:1-5)

Who are these 144,000?  I think they are the same as in chapter 7.   If they weren’t, I think scripture would tell us so.  John is describing them in more detail here.  They were sealed with God’s name on their foreheads and in their hearts and minds.  They have victory over the beast and his mark.  They are redeemed from the earth.  They are God’s people who have withstood the attack of Satan.  The church is often referred to as a woman.  Not defiled with women means they did not accept the doctrines of the corrupt church.  God often speaks of the purity of His people in terms of sexual immorality.  These 144,000 have not been compromised by the world, but remain loyal as a virgin bride to the future groom.  They remain pure toward Christ.

How are you loyal to Christ?
Do you have God’s seal?
Do you follow Him wherever He leads you?

Revelation 14:6-13 – The 3 Angels

John saw 3 angels who have 3 important declarations from God.

The 1st angel was flying and proclaiming the eternal gospel to all the people of the earth.  “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come.  Worship him who made the havens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” Rev. 14:7  He is warning people to fear or respect God instead of the Antichrist and to give God the glory, not the Antichrist.  This is good news to those who receive and obey it, but bad news to those who reject it.  This seems to be God’s last offer to proclaim Jesus as Lord before the final wrath to come.

The 2nd angel followed, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”Rev. 14:8  I think the Babylon here may not be a literal city, but a world system that opposes the church and Christians.  Babylon is symbolic of the world and its evil system.

The 3rd angel followed, “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.”Rev. 14:9-11  As we studied before those who have the mark on their forehead belong to the beast.  Just as the 144,000 belong to God by His name being on their foreheads, these who take to mark are sealed for Satan.  There will be torment that will not last for a short time, but forever.  There will be no end!  This forever is just as heaven is forever for believers.  They will drink God’s wrath undiluted.  His judgment is not going to be watered down.  They will receive the full force of God’s anger.  There will be people who will be deceived and take the mark.  The angel is pointing out the consequences of those who do so.

“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.”Rev. 14:12  He is giving believers another call for endurance.  They are not to give in to the temptation to worship the beast, but to remain faithful even to death.  “Write:  blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” – Rev. 14:13  John was told to write that those who die during the Tribulation as martyrs will be blessed and reign with Christ during the Millennium (Rev. 20:4).

What things of this world do you worship?
What in this world defiles you?
Do you follow the Lamb wherever He goes?
Is your faith strong enough to endure to the end?

Revelation 14:14-20 – The Harvest

John saw a white cloud with one like a son of man sitting on it.  He had a golden crown and a sharp sickle. (Rev. 14:14) Then another angel came out of the temple and called out, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” – Rev. 14:15 
The angel coming out of the temple shows he has the authority and is speaking directly from God.  So he swung his sickle over the earth, and gathered God’s people.  The crown on the one like a son of man shows his authority.  I think this is a representative of Jesus.  In the verses 15 and 17 it says another angel suggests a previous angel so I don’t think this is Jesus, but His angel.  Jesus would not need someone to tell Him it was time for the harvest.  Also Matt. 13:39 says at the end of the age the reapers are angels.

Another angel came out of the temple with a sickle.  Then another angel called in a loud voice, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.”Rev. 14:18    Again the angle is speaking directly from God.  The angel swung his sickle and 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, rising as high as horses’ bridles for 200 miles. 

The sickle is judgment.  The wine press is God’s wrath.  The clusters of the vine or grapes represent the unbelievers of the earth, those who have followed and worshipped the Beast.  It was outside the city that Jesus died so God will punish the people outside the city.  The city was Jerusalem.

With which group do you identify?
Sounds like a horrible sight and place to be.  Only the Lamb can rescue you from God’s wrath.  We all deserve God’s wrath and we all need the gospel.  The Lamb offers escape from His wrath that will last forever.  If you are a believer, thank God for His grace and mercy He has given you that you will not have to endure this.  If you have not yet become a follower of Christ, I hope this wakes you up.  See the bottom of this blog page for the plan of God’s salvation.

 Next week we will study Revelation 15-16.  Hope to see you here.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Revelation 13

Revelation 13:1-10 – The Antichrist

Rev. 13:1-4 - John saw a beast coming out of the sea.  He had 10 horns, 7 heads, 7 crowns and each head a blasphemous name.  He looked like a leopard with feet like a bear and a mouth like a lion.  The red dragon gave the beast his power, his throne and his authority.  One head seemed to have a fatal wound that had healed.  The world was astonished and followed him.  Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast.  They also worshiped the beast.

The beast is a man.  He is the Antichrist rising up out of the sea.  The sea represents the nations of the world.  The Antichrist is the false messiah we’ve all heard about that will come someday.  He will set himself up as ruler and God.  He will be the final ruler of the world.  He is also known as the little horn in Daniel 7:8.  This will be a time of confusion and uncertainty and people will be looking for a leader.  They will get their wish, but he will be much more than they bargained for.  He will not protect them, but will be a cruel dictator and demand that all worship him.  He opposes Christ and God’s people.  He is Satan’s answer to Christ, hence the name Antichrist (1 John 2:18).

The sea means large numbers of people.  The heads of the beast show dominion.  The 10 horns show power.  He looks like a leopard, a bear and a lion which refers to the 3 beasts in Daniel 7 representing the empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece.  All these empires come out of the Roman Empire.  We see the beast again in Rev. 17.

Rev.13:5 – God allowed the dragon to give the beast authority for 42 months (3 ½ years).  The beast spoke proud words and blasphemies to exercise his authority.  He blasphemed God and slandered His name.  He is granted authority to make war with the saints.  This is the beginning of the Great Tribulation Daniel called the Abomination of Desolation – also in Matt. 24:15.

Satan has his own false trinity.  He acts as a father, the Antichrist as the son, and the False Prophet as the spirit who attempts to bring glory to the Antichrist.  The Antichrist will declare himself as God.  He will have Godlike characteristic, perform miracles, and will deceive many people.

The last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation is called the Great Tribulation.  During these last years the Antichrist will be a man endowed with demonic powers. During that time he will be Satan himself.

In Matt. 24:15-21 Jesus warned the Jews.  “So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation spoken of through the prophet Daniel – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.  Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house.  Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak.  How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!  Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.  For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again.”

When the Antichrist stands in the holy place (the temple) and proclaims himself to be God, there will be world-wide persecution of the Jews greater than ever before.  Daniel calls this abomination of desolation.  How will God protect them?  It is believed they will flee to a city called Petra, which is about 90 from Jerusalem.  There many Jews will finally believe in Jesus and be saved.

Rev. 13:7-8 – He will make war with the saints and all the people on the earth whose name is not written in the book of life will worship him.  The unbelievers will be deceived in believing he is God.  Only those whose names are written in the book of life will refuse to worship the Beast.  “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”2 Thess. 2:4:11.  God’s people must be strong through suffering.  Many will go to prison or be killed.  They must suffer with patience.  God will save them for their eternal home.

If you are here during the Great Tribulation, how will you be able to deny taking the mark?
Will you stand firm in your faith and trust God to help you?

The book of life – There are some who believe that there are 2 books – the book of life and the Lamb’s book of life.  There are disagreements about this, but we really don’t know the right answer.  I believe they are the same book.  I believe God registered the names of everyone in this book before the world began.  In this book, He knows who will accept Him.  The book belongs to the Lamb.  Those who are saved never have their names removed from this book.  If you choose not to believe in Jesus during your lifetime, your name will be blotted out of the book of life and you will not go to heaven.  “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.” Ex. 21:33  “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white.  I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.” Rev. 3:5

Some look at this book as having 3 categories of people:
The unsaved – all names are written in the book, but if they die before believing in Jesus their names are blotted out.
The saved or the elect– all names are written in the book and if they believe in Jesus their names are retained in the book.
The beast worshipers in Rev. 13:8 – these people are hardened and are destined to reject Jesus and their names were never written in the book.

Again, we really don’t know since there are scriptures that are used to argue all points.  When it comes down to it, all that should matter to us is that if we believe in Jesus and stand firm in our faith, our names are in the Lamb’s book and we will go to heaven when we die.

Do you think your name is in the book?  Why or why not?
If not, what will do about it?

The Bible gives us another warning to not let this go in one ear and out the other.  “He who has an ear, let him hear.” Rev. 13:9.  We are called to have patient endurance and faithfulness. (Rev. 13:10b)  John is saying to pay attention to what he just said.

Revelation 13:11-18 – The False Prophet

Rev. 13:11-17 – John saw another beast coming out of the earth.  He had 10 horns like a lamb, but spoke like a dragon.  He exercised all authority of the first beast on his behalf and made all inhabitants of earth worship the first beast.  He performed great and miraculous signs, because he, too was given power to deceive people.  He ordered an image of the first beast to be made and caused it to come alive.  He will demand that all people worship the image.  He will force everyone no matter who they are to receive a mark on their right hand or forehead so no one can buy or sell unless they have the mark.  This mark is the name of the beast or the number of his name.

How can Satan give life?  Satan doesn’t have the power to create life.  Only God can create life.  I believe this giving life to the image will probably be done through modern technology like holograms or robotics.  Or it may be another one of his miraculous signs that he was given the power by God to do.  What about the mark of the beast?  How can that be done?  This can probably be done through microchips under the skin, like they do for pets.  These chips can be easily scanned or maybe even traced by satellite.  So you can see we are living in the end times.  God’s judgments are not far away.  Are you ready?

This second beast is the False Prophet.  He will speak the words of Satan.  He will cause people to worship the Antichrist.  Now Satan’s false trinity is complete.  Christ received His power from the Father (Matt. 11:27).  The beast (Antichrist) and the (second beast) False Prophet received their power from Satan.  The Holy Spirit is the agent on behalf of Christ (John 16:14).  The False Prophet is the agent for the Antichrist (Rev. 13:12).

Those who do not worship the Antichrist will be killed – beheaded. See Rev. 20:4.  Jesus warns us to watch out for false prophets in Matthew 7:15.  Before the Antichrist comes there will be many antichrists.  Some have already come and are working in the world today.  They are people who oppose Christ.  They try to destroy who Christ is and what He has done.  They are enemies of the church and of Christians.  They hate all those who belong to Him.

How are you equipped against false prophets and false teaching?
How can you identify false prophets and false teaching?

“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.”Rev. 13:18.  Sometimes people use numbers instead of letter for a name.  There are many views about this number, but we really don’t know exactly what this mean.

The mark of the beast – DO NOT TAKE THIS MARK!!  People will need food for their families so the pressures at this time will be very strong.  Jesus will help you to stand strong.  If anyone accepts this mark during the Tribulation he is permanently disqualified for heaven.  Give your allegiance to God and not the Antichrist even if it means death.  Remember you will live forever with Christ in heaven.  This earth is not your home. 

Can you take the mark of the beast accidentally?  I don’t think so.  To accept the mark you would have to willing renounce God. 

The dragon is Satan.
The 1st beast from the sea is the Antichrist.
The 2nd beast from the land is the False Prophet.
The false trinity is Satan, Antichrist and the False Prophet.
The mark of the beast is a mark that is forced upon people during the last 3 ½ years in order to buy or sell.  Those who take this mark are renouncing God and will not enter heaven.
The book of life or Lamb’s book of life is a record of all people written before the foundation of the world.  If you choose not to believe in Jesus during your lifetime, your name will be blotted out and you will not go to heaven.
Satan will mock the Holy Trinity by setting up his unholy trinity in order to deceive the world.
The work of Holy Trinity is defined by peace, wisdom, gratitude in our hearts to God, forgiveness, love, humbleness, faithfulness and thankfulness.  The false trinity is defined by war, threats, fear, dictatorship and authority over people.

Wow!  This study is really scary.  Remember the Bible is telling us all these things so we will be knowledgeable and know what is going to happen and we won’t be surprised - that way we will know exactly what to do and not to do.  We will be able to recognized false teachings and false prophets and especially be aware of the coming Antichrist and his agenda.  God doesn’t want us to be deceived.  He wants us to be assured that He wins in the end.

If you want to study more chapters in Revelation, you will find all of them on my website.  I don’t have all the answers, no one does.  I write about what God has revealed to me and what I believe.  Next week we will study Revelation 14.  Hope to see you here.

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