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Friday, July 27 2012

Introduction:

Last week, we had the opportunity to "watch" an "imaginary" movie titled "The Woman, Her Son, and the Dragon" filled with breadthtaking events. It is a must-get "DVD"! We saw how John saw a sign (or wonder) of a Woman travailing in birth and about to deliver a man Child while a red Dragon was waiting to devour the Child. The Woman might be seen as the Nation of Israel (Physical or Spiritual), the Child is Christ while the Dragon is Satan. She gave birth to the Child; the Dragon couldn't devour the Child, lost the battle in heaven and was unsuccessful in his attempt to destroy the Woman. Being therefore, as what one can term, a serial loser, the Dragon directed his wrath towards the rest of the Woman's children. Included amongst these children are true children of God, Jews or Gentiles. On a very bright side, we have a recipe for success namely three weapons: the blood of the lamb, the word of our testimony and the refusal to love one's life. This week, we will consider a wild wounded (injured) beast rising from the sea to whom the Dragon gave power. It is well known that one of the most brutal (wild) animals are those that are wounded: Snakes, cats, even humans. What can we then learn from this John vision?

Description of the beast [Verse 1-3a]

   And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed:

This beast has similar description with the Dragon in Rev. 12:3 "and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads." The description also bear resemblance with the vision Daniel had in Daniel 7:1-27. This has made many bible scholars to interpret the head of the beast as different world empires including EU, etc, it will suffice for us to know that the beast came up after the trouble that took place in the preceding Chapter and having a tyrannical and persecuting power whose obvious target will be mainly the Church (true believers). We also note that his power was derived from the Dragon and he has a brutally wounded head Gen 3:15. The ?healing' of the wound might have been a deception.

Same "old story" from Satan [Verse 3b-6]

3b and all the world wondered after the beast.And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

 

Satan's ?tactic' has not changed since the beginning. Recall from last week in Ezek. 28:15-19 and also in Isaiah 14:12-15 that he was cast down because of his pride. He used similar trick on Eve in the garden of Eden in Gen 3:5 "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." He is always seeking attention and wanting to take ?centre stage'. Our attitude as Christians must be different from this as succinctly admonished by Paul in Philippians 2:1-18 which we will read and reflectively meditate on. It is also note worthy that the beast is only allowed to do what he did for an appointed time and when his time is over, he will be thrown to where he is destined to be.

Read this again from last week's lesson: "Satan has perpetuated the lie that he is God's opposite. He is not God's opposite. He is not omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent. He is only a created being. In our times of discouragement and seeming defeat, we must remember that the powers of good will overcome the powers of evil. Satan and his demonic forces may win some battles along the way but they will ultimately lose the war!"

Persecuting the saints and the inhabitants of the earth [Verse 7-10]

And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.If any man have an ear, let him hear.10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

As believers, we must understand that we are the first target of Satan and his allies. Since he lost his place in heaven and he is fully aware that we are joint heirs with Christ, he does everything to frustrate the reality of this hence we must patiently endure and faithfully hold fast to Christ.

Are you certain that your name is written in the book of life? Is your name still in this book of life? Are you still running the Christian race as expected from you by Christ Jesus? Are you still standing firm in the faith? Will you go with the first flight?

Let us all examine ourselves tonight as the scripture admonishes us in 2 Cor. 13:5 "Test yourselves to discover whether you are true believers: put your own selves under examination. Or do you not know that Jesus Christ is within you, unless you are insincere?"

Conclusion

In conclusion, let us reflect on these verses of the scripture:

Hebrews 12:1-3: "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."

Matt. 24:13 "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."

 

Contributor: Akin Akande

 

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 08:19 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, July 19 2012

Introduction:

In last week's study, we looked at the concluding part of chapter 11 in a study titled "The Witnesses Resurrected". We looked at the resurrection, glorification and translation of the two witnesses as well as the calamity that befell God's enemies on earth and the proclamation of God's Kingdom and the worship of our Maker. We concluded the study with the announcement of God's pay back for both the good and the bad.

This week, the study takes a new turn. In these intriguing verses, crammed with symbols and figurines, we delve into the excitement of these breathtaking events (akin to a blockbuster movie) as we watch Satan lose the battle and realize that he is all bark and no bite! So imagine for a moment, the word is spread round the streets of heaven: "Showing tonight in HD 3D - "The Woman, Her Son, and the Dragon"". You arrive at heavens cinema and take a front row seat, the curtains are drawn and Revelation 12: 1-17 unfolds . . .

1.      Verses 1 - 4: Two Great Signs (An Attempt To Understand The Signs)

"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

It is important to note that John referred to the "woman" and the "dragon" as signs. A sign is defined as: "An object, quality, or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else."

·         Symbol 1 - The Woman

The fact that the "woman" is referred to as "a great sign" means that John was not referring to a literal woman. Although there are many thoughts on what the woman represents e.g. the virgin Mary; (which by the way would not be wrong as we see in verse 5) as well as the Nation of Israel (physical & spiritual).

The thought however that I believe is more appropriate is the Nation of Israel (physical & spiritual). The Bible, in the Old Testament referred to Israel as a woman (God's wife). See Isaiah 54:5,6; Jeremiah 3:6,8; 31:32; Ezekiel 16:32; Hosea 2:16.

The symbol of Israel as a woman travailing in birth is found in several Old Testament passages. (See Isaiah 26:17-18; 66:7-12; Hosea 13:13; Micah 4:10; 5:2-3).

·         Symbol 2 - The sun, moon, and twelve stars

The symbols of the sun, moon, and twelve stars remind us of Joseph's dream in Genesis 37:9-11 refer to Jacob, his wife and the 12 tribes of Israel. (This "validates" the thought in Symbol 1 above)

·         Symbol 3 - The Child

This is obviously a reference to Jesus Christ who, as promised in Scripture, was from the nation of Israel. Verse 5 says the child is the One who rules with a rod of iron. See Matthew 1:1-25; Psalm 2:8-9; Revelation 2:27; 19:15.

·         Symbol 4 - The Red Great Dragon

In verse 9, the Bible identified the dragon as Satan. The description is also symbolical; his "red" color suggests bloodshed and death, the seven heads represent mountains (Rev 17:9) and the ten horns represent kings (Rev 17:12; Dan 7:7-8, 20, 24). Its tail "drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth:" These "stars" are fallen angels who revolted with Satan at his fall (see Isa 14:12-17; Ezek 28:12-14).

Verse 4a creates some sort of "special effects" The past and present events all happening at once (in John's eyes). He brings together events in Ezek 28:12-14 and his vision in verses 1-3

Verse 4b says, "the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child."

Satan is not ignorant about God's plan of redemption. He also knows that redemption would come through the Messiah who would come from the lineage of Israel. As we journey through the Bible, we find Satan's attempt to wipe out God's plan in the persecution of the Jews culminating in Matthew 2:13

2.      Verses 5 - 6: Jesus - Triumphant And Caught Up!

"And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days"

Verse 5 perfectly summarizes Christ's birth, his life, and ascension into heaven. Satan failed to destroy Jesus at His birth, during His life, and in His death, Jesus Christ ascended victoriously into heaven.

Unable to destroy Christ, Satan turned his attention toward the "woman" - Israel. But God prepared a place so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days."

3.      Verses 7 - 10: The Final Battle - Angelic Victory!

"And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night."

"And there was war in heaven: . . ." Was this the same war referred to in Ezek 28:12-14 or is this a future event? It is almost like déjà vu; the use of the word "And" in the beginning of the verse will suggest that this time John's vision was futuristic. After the woman fled under God's protection, Satan and his angels went and waged war in heaven. It would be akin to the last effort in battles as we see in movies. He knew he was going down but not without a fight; and down he went! He and his angels for the second and final time. While Satan and his demons, in Ezek 28:12-14, fell and were cast out of heaven, Satan still had access to heaven to accuse the brethren (see Job 1:6-7; 2:1-2 & Zech 3:1-2). However, after this battle in question, he will no longer be permitted access to heaven.

It is important to note that is NOT a battle between God and Satan, but between Michael and Satan. It is two created angels and their forces battling each other. Satan has perpetuated the lie that he is God's opposite. He is not God's opposite. He is not omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent. He is only a created being. In our times of discouragement and seeming defeat, we must remember that the powers of good will overcome the powers of evil. Satan and his demonic forces may win some battles along the way but they will ultimately lose the war!

4.      Verses 11 - 12:  The Weapons - Human Victory!

"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time."

Verse 11 describes three weapons the martyrs will use to overcome Satan.

a)      The Blood of the Lamb: The first weapon is "the blood of Lamb." The bloodshed on the cross ensures that God will forgive us (Rom 8:31-34). Thus, Satan's accusations, however true, are rendered null and void in God's court of law. So how can we practically apply this truth?

First, we have to honestly admit the truth of Satan's accusation: We are sinners!

Secondly, we should remind Satan that the blood of the Lamb covers us. Our sins have all been nailed to the cross of Christ and we will no longer be judged or accused by God for these sins.

b)      The word of our testimony: The second weapon we have is the word of our testimony (see 1:9; 6:9). This refers to testimonies of both our lives and lips. We must be salt and light to our world (Matt 5:13-16). When we share our testimony, we move into Satan's territory and it's intimidating to him! Our testimony is powerful and irrefutable.

c)      The refusal to love one's life: The third weapon we have is a refusal to love one's life. These tribulation martyrs were willing to lose anything and everything for Jesus: (reputation, status, and possessions, etc.) They were even willing to give up their lives for what they believed, even if it meant suffering the violent death of a martyr. See Rev. 2:10, John 10:11, 15. Revelation (1:9; 6:9; 14:12; 20:4).

Verse 12 is yet another encouragement why we should endeavor by God's grace to be on the first flight. While in heaven there will be rejoicing, on earth there will be woe! Satan knowing that he has only 1,260 days before Jesus Christ returns to the earth and binds him (20:1-2) unleashes his whole arsenal in one last desperate attempt to drag many down with him.

5.      Verses 13 - 17: The War Against The Remnant

"And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."

Satan tries to do everything in his power to destroy the woman (Israel). But God's provides a way for her (them) to escape. Once again the use of the word Eagle is a metaphor used to describe the way God will deliver Israel. God often uses this metaphor of the Eagle to refer to His protection of Israel (Ps 55:6-8; Isa 40:31). The comparison between an eagle that can fly overhead and an earth-bound serpent implies the superior protection of God. (Exodus 19:4; Deut 32:11).

In verse 15, he changes battle strategy - he "cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood."

Notice again that the Bible says water "as" a flood, it would be difficult to tell if the flood should be interpreted literally or figuratively. Because it is possible that Satan will use a Tsunami as a form of attack, and it could also be that he will pursue them with soldiers as a river (Jer. 46:7-8; 47:2-3; Ezek 38-39). A flood is also a biblical metaphor for overwhelming evil (Ps 18:4; 32:36; 69:2; 124:2-4; Isa 43:2). The flood however did not accomplish its task because the earth helped the woman, and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.  Isaiah 59:19

Satan is now three times a loser. He has failed to destroy the man child (verses1-6), he has lost the war in heaven (verses7-9), he has been unable to destroy the woman (verses13-16), and thus his wrath is directed toward the "rest of the woman's children." These "children" referred to here will be any true child of God, Jew or Gentile. (See 1 Cor. 2:1-2; 1 John 5:11-12 & 2 Timothy 3:12)

 

CONCLUSION

You get up from your seat and walk out of the cinema thinking to yourself; "how do they make it look so real?"You still feel the adrenaline rush during the war in heaven and the burst of excitement in verse 12 when the call was made to heaven to rejoice and the feelings for the inhabitants of earth. "How do they make it look so real?"

Well, because it is (or rather, it will be) real. So as you get into your car and drive home; remember that the Christian life is not a playground; it's a battleground! Do all you can to live for Jesus Christ in this life, prepare for and go through suffering when they come, get ready for the first flight because despite all, our concern should be to make the first flight and reap our eternal rewards. (As well as have a front row seat when the whole "drama" unfolds)

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:24 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, July 16 2012

Introduction:

Two weeks ago, we looked at the first part of Chapter 11 where we considered the exploits of God's two prophets and the subsequent and resultant reactions of their oppositions. We were challenged by the speaker to ask ourselves if we are faithful witnesses to the command and charge of Jesus Christ, our Lord, that He commanded us before His ascension into glory. You will recall that the teaching ended with "those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth".  The events take a glorious and enviable turn in the verses we will be looking at today. We will, amongst other things, see the awesomeness and faithfulness of Him, who has called us unto glory and Honour.

 

1]         God's Witnesses Are Resurrected & Translated - (Verses 11-14 NKJV)

11 Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. 13 In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. 14 The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.  

Double Honour

Remember Lazarus? John 11:17 records: "So when Jesus came, He found that he (Lazarus) had already been in the tomb four days" [Emphasis mine].

Why did Jesus wait for four (4) days?

Why did God wait for three and half days before resurrecting the dead witnesses?

Jesus said in the same John 11:4 "......but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." The dead witnesses' bodies were lying on the street for three and half days, already decaying. Recall also that there was merry making, rejoicing and sending of gifts by men because of the calamity that befell these men.

The very life-giving breath of God Almighty, same that was breathed into man (Gen 2:7) entered into these prophets, and they that were dead, stood on their feet. Let's imagine for once, the scenario. No wonder, the bible recorded that Great Fear fell on those who saw them. From drunken merry making one moment, to soberness and great fear the next. I can perceive most (if not all) frozen from their face down. It suddenly dawn on them that the end is what actually justifies the means. You see, it is never over with God until His will is accomplished! Are you at the verge of giving up? Be encouraged! The enemy of your soul is about to experience one of the greatest defeat of his life. Nothing beats God!

Notice also that these prophets were not just resurrected, they were glorified and translated. I believe they were not the only people that heard the voice from heaven, the emphasis on loud would indicate that every one present heard. Imagine a host of heavenly companies escorting these two to heaven above. How glorious it is to serve the Lord. These were going to get double honour for every shame they have suffered (Isaiah 61:7). This was witnessed by their enemies, how shameful.                                                            

 

Calamity for the Enemies

Now as a further demonstration of God's power and sovereignty over the beast and his system, and still in shock of the preceding events of the resurrection and ascension of the prophets, a great earthquake occurs in and around Jerusalem killing 7,000 people. Those who are left become terrified and give glory to God. Perhaps some are saved through this, but the others will simply confess the glory and power of God without repentance, or faith. They are like the fallen angels who believe and know the reality of God, and yet tremble in their confirmed state of rebellion against God (James 2:19). Because of the hardness of their hearts, these will have become confirmed in their unrepentant condition. They have reached the point of no return.

 

2]         Seventh Trumpet: God's Kingdom Proclaimed

. 15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" 16 And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying:

"We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
The One who is and who was and who is to come,
Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.
18 The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come,
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,
And those who fear Your name, small and great,
And should destroy those who destroy the earth."

19 Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail

The Effect and Consequence of the Seventh Trumpet

 

1] Here were loud and joyful acclamations of the saints and angels in heaven (Rev. 11:15). We need to carefully observe the following;

·         The manner of their adorations: They rose from their seats, and fell on their faces, and worshipped God; they did it with reverence and humility.

·         The matter of their adorations: They thankfully recognize the right of our God and Saviour to rule and reign over all the world: The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.

·         They thankfully observe his actual possession of them, and reign over them; they give him thanks because he had taken to him his great power, asserted his rights, and exerted his power.

·         They rejoice that this his reign shall never end: He shall reign forever and ever, till all enemies be put under his feet; none shall ever wrest the sceptre out of his hand.   

These must be our attitude in the worship and adoration of our Maker! It's not just about the rhythm of the song; it's all about our God!

 

2] Here were angry resentments in the world at these just appearances and actings of the power of God (Rev. 11:18):

·         The nations were angry; not only had been so, but were so still: their hearts rose up against God; they met his wrath with their own anger. And why were they angry?

·         It was a time when God was taking a just revenge upon the enemies of his people, recompensing tribulation to those who had troubled them.

·         It was a time in which he was beginning to reward his people's faithful services and sufferings; and their enemies could not bear it, they fretted against God, and so increased their guilt and hastened their destruction.

Remember what the psalmist says in Psalm 73?  He mentioned that he "....was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.....(vs 3); Their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than heart could wish. (vs 7); He could not help but confess that "When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me- (vs 16); Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end" (vs 17).

The wicked had their chance for repentance, but they blew it. As God's anointed servants, we must have confidence and draw strength from the truth that He is sovereign and has all things under His control. We must not be moved by situations and circumstances. It may look like the enemy has an upper hand now, but let us remember, God is a faithful Rewarder and a just Judge.

 

3] Another consequence was the opening of the temple of God in heaven (Rev.11:19). This may infer two things;

·         This may mean that there is now a more free communication between heaven and earth, prayer and praises more freely and frequently ascending and graces and blessings plentifully descending.

·         It may also refer to the church (or kingdom) of God on earth, a heavenly temple. Recall that the kingdom, which refers to the reign and rule of the entire earth that God intended to be under man's authority and rule, but was wrested from man by Satan (Heb. 2:5-8). Satan became "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4) and "the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working [as a ruling king] in the sons of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2). There are really only two kingdoms?Satan's and God's (Col. 1:13). But through this trumpet and woe, Satan's kingdom will be totally destroyed and the world will come under the lordship of Christ

 

At the opening of the temple of God, we observe,

1. What was seen there? The ark of God's Testament. This was in the holy of holies; in this ark the tables of the law were kept.

 2. What was heard and felt there: Lightnings, voices, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. The great blessing of the reformation was attended with very awful providences; and by terrible things in righteousness God would answer those prayers that were presented in his holy temple, now opened.

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 01:39 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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