Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Revelation 19 - Hallelujah!

Last time we saw the destruction of Babylon.  Now John is hearing a great multitude in heaven shouting their praises to God.   “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments.”Rev. 19:1.  God destroyed Babylon punishing her with the punishment she deserved.  Babylon’s destruction was final and will never be built again.  (Rev. 19:1-3)  This is heaven’s response to the judgment of the great harlot, Babylon.  The multitude is praising God for the judgment.  These are probably angels, because the saints are not told to praise God until verse 5.

God’s judgments are always absolutely fair.  He is to be worshipped because He is just and He will judge every evil empire and avenge the blood of the martyrs.  He will do this through Jesus.  Jesus will return as King of kings and Lord of lords.  Those who believe in Jesus will judgment because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

The 24 elders and the 4 living creatures fell down and worshiped and called for all the believers including Old Testament saints, the church age saints and the Tribulation saints to give praise to God. (Rev. 19:4-5)

The praise continues and calls for the marriage of the Lamb.  “Hallelujah!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns.  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.”Rev. 19:6-8  The group praising God is so loud that it sounds like rushing waters and thunder.  They continue rejoicing and praising God for the marriage of the Lamb has come.  The fine clean white linen represents the righteous acts of the saints.

The marriage is the eternal union of the church with Christ.  The bride is the church universal.  She has made herself ready for her wedding.  Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for her by His death on the cross.  The marriage of Jesus and His church will be complete and there will be a great wedding meal.  She is given the dress to wear, salvation.  She has not earned it, but she has obeyed the Lord and done what is right.

The angel told John, “Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb… These are the true words of God.”Rev. 19:9  No one can earn the right to go the wedding meal - only those whom God invites.  Some believe those invited are Israel who will turn to Christ during the Tribulation. (Rom. 11:25-27)

How does your praise anticipate Jesus’ return?
Are you prepared for the wedding supper of the Lamb?

John was so impressed with the angel that the fell to his feet to worship him, but the angel told him not to.  Angels are servants of God and so are Christians.  He should only worship God. (Rev. 19:10)

John saw heaven open.  He saw a white horse whose rider is called Faithful and True and with justice he judges and makes war.  The rider is God the Son, Jesus.  He is always faithful to His promises and always speaks the truth.  He comes to make war with Satan and his armies and judge all on the earth.  This is the Battle of Armageddon.  Jesus will come for all to see and with a large group.  His eyes were like fire and he had many crowns with a name on Him that no one knows but He himself.  He’s dressed in a bloody robe and His name is the Word of God.  Some believe the bloody robe is Jesus’ blood He shed on the cross.  Others believe this blood is the picture of judgment - the blood of the slaughtered enemies. (Isaiah 63:1-6)  Armies of heaven followed Him on white horses.  This army is the redeemed saints.  They were dressed in fine, white, and clean linen because they have overcome the devil.  His mouth had a sharp sword to strike the nations.  He will rule with an iron scepter – meaning His law is absolute and unwavering and He will never change.  He will tread the winepress of God’s wrath.  On His robe and on His thigh is written “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”. (Rev. 19:11-16) 

Is Jesus your King of kings and Lord of lords? 
If not, will you surrender to Him now before it’s too late?
How do you see Jesus as Faithful and True?

Notice that Jesus will return in a very public way.  The fact that “Faithful and True” are capitalized lets us know that this is the Lord Jesus Christ who has been made Lord of Lords and King of kings.  He is the Judge and is always faithful to His promises and He always speaks the truth.  His every word is true and without error.  He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” in John 14:6.

Details of His coming are found in Matt. 24.  He will come as fast as lightning and He will come immediately after the Great Tribulation.  The sun is darkened and moon will not give light, stars will fall, and the powers of heaven will be shaken.  He will coming on the clouds with great power and glory.  A great trumpet will sound announcing His coming. 

The armies are probably the raptured church, angels, the church, Old Testament saints, and the Tribulation saints.  All will share in the victory.  This war is the Battle of Armageddon John described in Rev. 16.

Then John saw an angel standing in the sun calling to the birds in the air, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”Rev. 19:17-18.  The angel is inviting the birds to feed on the results of what will shortly take place.  Christ’s victory is declared before it ever begins.  When this battle is over, the great supper will take place.  Actually there won’t be a war at all as we think of war.  It will be over immediately. 

Then he saw the beast (the Antichrist), the kings and their armies gathered together to make war against the God and His armies.  But the beast and the false prophet were captured.  They were thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  The rest were killed by the rider (Jesus) and the birds ate their flesh. (Rev. 19:19-21)

The beast and the false prophet were used by Satan to perform his evil deeds.  They were vile and evil and they will get what they deserve by being sent to the Lake of Fire or Hell.  Satan will join them, but only for 1,000 years.  Then Satan will be released for a short while.  Then he will join the beast, the false prophet and all unbelievers for all eternity.  We will see this described in Rev. 20.  

Hallelujah!  What an exciting chapter.  All corrupt religious and political systems that are controlled by Satan’s power will not last.  They will come to an end.  Until then God’s people will continue to give Him praises, because governs destiny.  The Lamb will be triumphant!

Next week we will study Revelation 20.  Hope to see you here.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Revelation 18 - The Fall of Babylon

John sees another angel coming down from heaven.  He had great authority and the earth lights up with his glory.  He was probably always with God since the glory of God shines and is absorbed by those around Him.  (Rev. 18:1)  Remember when Moses met with God on Mount Sinai.  He came down from the mountain and his face was shining from being in the presence of God.  When we spend time with God, we shine as well.
The angel shouted “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!”Rev. 18:2a  He said the city has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of unclean spirits and detestable birds.  Every nation is influenced by Babylon.  Every merchant grew rich from her excessive luxuries.  (Rev. 18:2b-3)

Who or what is Babylon?  In the last sentence of chapter 17 it tell us that the woman that John saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.  In John’s time that city was Rome.  Rome was an enemy of God and persecuted many Christians.  Babylon represents any evil city, nation, place or even government systems.  It has great influence over people with material possessions, luxuries, wealth and the worship of anything other than God.

There are consequences for making riches and luxuries the top priority in life.  The more you have the more it seems you want.  You never seem to be satisfied.  You become greedy and self-centered.  You tend to forget God and what He’s done for you.  He is not the center of your life.  Wealth and possessions are your number one priority.  The Bible warns against this.  “Set your hearts on the things above, not on earthly things.” - Col. 3:1-2  “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matt. 6:20-21

Then John heard another voice from heaven calling for believers to come out of Babylon.  He is also giving another chance for unbelievers to repent and turn to Him.  He is a God of second chances.  God wanted them to separate themselves from Satan’s kingdom.  (Rev. 18:4)  Babylon had so many sins that they were piled up to heaven.  God remembered her crimes and will give her a double portion of judgment.  (Rev. 18:5-8) 

It’s sad and hard to believe that there are believers still living in Babylon.  God want His people to physically leave the city and to separate themselves from the evil worldly practices.  God will not destroy the righteous with the wicked.  It’s like Lot living in Sodom.  God called him out of the city before He destroyed it.

Are you living in a commercial Babylon? 
Is God instructing you to come out of your materialism, commercialism, or immorality?
Are you pursuing righteousness and godliness?
How are you pursuing a higher standard than that of the world?

God is going to pay Babylon back double her deeds.  Babylon boasts that she is a queen not a widow and will never mourn.  She would not repent of her sins.  Her heart was hard.  God will destroy her.  He will bring plagues, pestilence, mourning, famine and fire upon her.  (Rev. 18:7-8)

The kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury and sin will be sorrowful over the fall of Babylon.  Why?  It won’t be for the city, but for themselves.  They will be bankrupt.  Their so called good life will come to an end.  They will have lost their trade and profit.  No one will buy or sell any more.  The merchants, sea captains and sailors will mourn.  No more cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones, fine linens, spices, wines, and oil.  They would suffer as Babylon suffered.  She will all be destroyed in 1 hour.   They will all weep and mourn over her. (Rev. 18:9-19)

Heaven rejoices over the fall of Babylon.  They rejoice because finally God judged them and put an end to sin once and for all time.  Evil will be gone forever!  “Rejoice over her, O heaven!  Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets!  God has judged her for the way she treated you.”Rev. 18:20

Are you a believer in Jesus?  If so, rejoice!  He has chosen you out of the world.

Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder and threw it into the sea.  The stone sank with a great splash and with such force that destroyed Babylon.  No one will ever see that city again.  Babylon fought against God and God punished her severely.  (Rev. 18:21-24)

Babylon’s evil empire is now dead.  God’s people will live forever, because God promised if they believe in Jesus they will have eternal life.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”John 3:16

Does God’s mercy and justice give you peace or worry?
What will you do about it, rejoice or repent?

 Next week we will study Revelation 19.  Hope to see you here.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Revelation 17 - The Woman and the Beast

Last week we saw the 7 bowl judgments poured out upon the earth.  In chapter 16 the Tribulation is finished.  Chapter 17 goes back and fills in some of what has happened during the Tribulation and covers the specifics of when Babylon is destroyed.

One of the angels invited John to see how God would punish Babylon.  The angel called Babylon a great prostitute who sells her body for sex.  The kings of the earth committed adultery with her.  The inhabitants of earth were intoxicated with her adulteries. (Rev. 17:1-2).  Her beauty is only skin deep.  She many look good, but soon her evil will soon be reveled.  Someone who is drunk has no idea what they are doing.  This is like these kings.  They were so wrapped up in the wealth, greed and evil that they didn’t realize the magnitude of what they were doing.

When and how have you been intoxicated with desires of the world?

This prostitute is not a literal woman.  The woman is Babylon and may represent the city of Rome.  Babylon can be looked at as a world system that is against God or as the city of the Antichrist.  She turns good into evil.  She controls many rivers meaning many nations.  All the kings of the earth shared the trade and culture with her.  They desired wealth, luxury and false gods.  She caused the nations and people of earth to worship the beast.

John was taken by the Spirit into a desert where he saw a woman sitting on a red beast covered with blasphemous names and had 7 heads and 10 horns.  She is dressed in purple and adorned with beautiful expensive jewels on the outside, but inside she was anything but beautiful.  True beauty in found in Jesus alone.  She carried a golden cup filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.  On her head was written, “Mystery Babylon the great the mother of prostitutes and the abominations of the earth”Rev 17:5.  She was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. (Rev. 2-6)  She is a killer of believers.  She represents all who hate God, but someday will face His justice.

This golden cup could mean that all this evil and immorality of the world has been brought into the church.  The church was tolerating almost anything and everything.  They were watering down Jesus and God’s truth. 

We see that today.  We see some churches watering down Jesus and the gospel.  They are tolerating life styles and choices that God does not approve of, because they don’t want to hurt people’s feelings or because it’s the popular thing to do.  They say times have changed and we need to accept those changes.  I think they need to read the Bible to see what God says.

The beast is the Antichrist who was great enemy of Christ and God’s people.  The woman was drunk not with wine, but the blood of God’s people.  Babylon was responsible for the death of God’s people.  They died because they were loyal to Jesus.

The angel explains to John.  The beast we saw in chapter 14 is the Antichrist.  He was killed yet rose from the dead to deceive the people of the earth.  He is red like the red dragon, Satan.  He is full of blasphemous names against God.  The people of the earth whose names are not written in the book of life will worship the beast.  Scripture calls for us to be wise.  The 7 heads are mountains.  They are also 7 kings.  Five had fallen and one had not come yet.  Some believe the five fallen are Julius Caesar, Tiberius Caesar, Caligula, Claudius and Nero.  Domitian was alive in John’s day.  The 7th is the Antichrist, the coming leader revived from the Roman Empire.  He will also be the 8th and rule the entire world. (Rev. 17:9-11) 

How do you gain wisdom?  We gain wisdom by asking God for it.  We stay in His Word and Him to help you understand it.  Then we will be able to discern between a lie and the truth.  Stay in prayer.  Our faith will be strengthened and our trust in God will become stronger and stronger.

The description of the beast and the Lord is very different.  The beast once was, now is not, and yet will come and will be destroyed. (Rev. 17:10)  The Lord is and who was, and is to come.  He will live forever.  (Rev. 1:4; 8; and 4:8)  The beast is a counterfeit of Jesus.  The beast comes to destroy and Jesus came to save.  Jesus triumphed over Satan on the cross.  Satan’s final days will end to total destruction.

The 10 horns are the 10 kings.  They will receive authority as kings for 1 hour along with the beast.  Their purpose it to make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  With Him will be His chosen and faithful followers. (Rev. 17:12-14)

Then the angel said to John that the waters he saw where the prostitute (Babylon) sits are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.  The beast and the 10 horns will hate the prostitute and will bring her to ruin.  The beast seems to have used her for his purposes, but now he and the 10 kings will destroy her.  (Rev. 17:15-16)

“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.”Rev. 17:17  This was God’s plan in order to punish Babylon.  God is in control and His plans will succeed, because He is the only real God.
We can see Babylon traits in the world today.  There is a cultural system that pulls people away to ungodliness.  It encourages sin, selfishness, tolerance of all things, greed, love of money and material things.  But remember, God will still achieve His purposes in the world.  He is sovereign and in control – and – He wins in the end!

What seductive influences are present in your life?
Do you let Jesus shape and influence your heart or are you captured by an intoxicating Babylon?

Principle:  God turned man’s evil into His beautiful purposes.

Jesus never sought power or authority, but lived as a servant and lived to glorify God.  True beauty is in Jesus.  His punishment on the cross for us brought us peace that is true beauty.
 Next week we will study Revelation 18.  Hope to see you here.

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