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Thursday, August 23 2012
In our last study we looked at the Beast from the Land. This land beast (also called the false prophet) operated under the authority of the sea beast and was totally committed to promoting this sea beast. We also learnt of its deceptive powers and it how it will coerce by deception people to take the mark of the beast.
In today's study we will look at a new turn of events; separated into two parts. The first part addresses the 144,000 that were removed (raptured) from the face of the earth to avoid the wrath of God and the second part, the final warnings before and consequently the wrath of God!
PART 1 - The 144, 000
"And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father's Name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from Heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a New Song before the Throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that Song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the Earth."
In this vision, John sees the LORD Jesus Christ on "mount Sion", which in this instance, refers to a heavenly scene. "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels" (Hebrews 12:22).
· The 144,000 refers to the Jewish Believers, who were sealed in Chapter 7. This triumphal scene in Heaven indicates that the 144,000 were preserved from the Antichrist and were raptured before God's wrath (see Rev 7:3)
· The "voice from Heaven" that John heard was that of the Almighty God, "as the Voice of many waters". See Ezekiel 43:2 and 2Samuel 22:14
· The "harpers harping with their harps" were most probably the 144,000 Jewish Believers, who have been raptured before God's wrath was released as they would have much to celebrate! And also because they were the only ones who could learn the song being sang.
· "No man could learn" the song of the 144,000, because God has covenanted His secret personally and only to those that fear Him. (Psalm 25:14).
"These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the Throne of God." And I saw another angel fly in the midst of Heaven, having the Everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the Earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,"
· Not defiled: In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul speaks of the entire Body of Believers as a "chaste virgin" (2Corinthians 11:2). Mostly when we talk about virginity, we often use it to describe a woman who has not known a man sexually, but it was also used to identify both men and women of Israel, (Isaiah 37:22). However, the "virgins" described here, "were not defiled with women" indicates that the 144,000 were unmarried and chaste men.
· First fruits unto God and to the Lamb: These 144,000 male virgins represent the first of the eventual harvest of the elect Israel at the Second Coming of the LORD Jesus Christ; therefore, they are called the "firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb".
· To "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth" describes the action of the 144,000; but, this should also be the characteristic of the Saints of these Last Days. Read 1Peter 2:21. The 144,000 have simply followed their Master home to Heaven, at His Command, "Come up Hither" (Revelation 11:12).
· No Guile: In completing the description of the 144,000, John records that "in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the Throne of God". Guile is the wilful deceit of heart that cannot be separated from a man without the cleansing that comes from the forgiveness of God. See 1Peter 2:22-23
PART 2 - The Victorious Judgment of the Lamb
. "Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His Judgment is come: and worship Him that made Heaven, and Earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, "The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the Saints: here are they that keep the Commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
Evidently, the All Wise God expects to see the very last fruits finally and certainly harvested. See (2Peter 3:9) So He sends the first two angels akin to giving the world a last chance before judgment. Before sending the third who declares the consequences of worshipping the Beast and receiving his mark (verse 9) - Eternal Damnation, (Verse10). No one ought to doubt the sincerity of this threat from the God. Read Titus 1:2 & Numbers 23:19).
· The First Angel's Announcement: Was a universal declaration of the necessity and opportunity of embracing the fear, glory, and worship of God to the inhabitants of the earth.
· The Second Angel's Announcement: Was a collective warning that the worship system of Babylon the Great that made the nations drink of the wrath of her fornication was fallen (that era was over).
· The Third Angel's Announcement: Was a warning to individual hearers against their personal participation in the worship of the Beast. "If any man . . ."
Verse 12 introduces verse 13, both of which are an interlude of peace between the warnings and threatening to those who "worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark" and the final judgments of the "great winepress of the wrath of God".
Three words stand out in verse 13 (Patience, Commandments, and faith.)
· First, the "patience of the Saints" is that attribute of love that "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (1Corinthians 13:7). Patience comes only from the "trying of your faith" (James 1:3), which will be greatly needed by the Tribulation Saints to complete their appointed course of trying, testing, and suffering, that they "may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:4) in preparation for Heaven.
· Second, keeping the "Commandments of God" is not simply the hallmark of a true Saint, "My sheep hear My Voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27); but, it represents our joyful opportunity to demonstrate our love for Him, "Thy Law do I love" (Psalm 119:163). Resisting fidelity to the Antichrist by refusing his mark is an act of the Tribulation Saints' loving obedience to the Commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3).
· And, finally, the "faith of Jesus" is the Saints' supreme confidence in our LORD and Saviour, Whose Name "is above every name" (Philippians 2:9) especially above the name of the Antichrist-- that Jesus will "yet deliver us" (2Corinthians 1:10) from the Antichrist or from dishonouring Him by yielding to temptation. (2Peter 2:9).
"And I heard a voice from Heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the LORD from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the Temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in Thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for Thee to reap; for the harvest of the Earth is ripe"
· "Blessed are the dead which die in the LORD from henceforth"; this makes special reference to those who have died (the dead) and those who will die (which die in the LORD from henceforth). The encouragement is true for all Saints throughout history, but is especially necessary for those who will be martyred, reminding them of the Eternal Blessedness of those that "resist steadfast in the faith" (1Peter 5:9).
· "and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Man in His hand a sharp sickle". Christ Jesus, Who is the "LORD of the Harvest" (Luke 10:2), He is also the "Judge of All the Earth" (Genesis 18:25), to Whom the Father "hath committed all judgment" (John 5:22). "Clouds and darkness are round about Him: Righteousness and Judgment are the habitation of His Throne" (Psalm 97:2)
· The "golden crown" on the head of the LORD Jesus indicates His authority over all. (Phil. 2:9-11).
· The Apocalyptic "Harvest of the Earth" will be both a gathering of the Righteous and a separating out of the Wicked. Read Matthew 3:10-12 and 25:31-32
"And He that sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the Earth; and the Earth was reaped." And another angel came out of the temple which is in Heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the Earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the Earth, and gathered the vine of the Earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs."
· Verses 16&17 tell us that the time for the great judgment that was constantly talked about and anticipated had finally come. Read Matthew 13:39, 41
· Verse 18 describes "another angel". . . from the altar which had the power over fire". God is a "Consuming Fire" (Deuteronomy 4:24), and "His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire" (Hebrews 1:7).
· Verse 19: Reveals that the very fact that the harvested vines with their fruit are cast "into the great winepress of the wrath of God" indicates that the harvest is of some form of (bloody) judgment; probably the much talked about Armageddon see Verse10, Psalm 60:3, Proverbs 4:17, Amos 2:8.
· Verse 20: The "city" refers to Jerusalem, for it and its godly inhabitants will again make it the "apple of God's eye" (Lamentations 2:18). Blood will come out of the winepress "even unto the horse bridles". The amount of bloodshed will be so much that it will yield a flow of blood deep enough to come up to the bridle of a horse. A "thousand and six hundred furlongs" is the distance in which the blood will flow "unto the horse bridles" 1,600 furlongs is about 183.86 miles which is approximately 296km. The distance between Newry and Cork is 291km. We are talking about a flow of blood across Ireland deep enough to drown a horse! That is some blood!
This chapter combines both a heavenly scene with the "hundred forty and four thousand before the throne of God" and an earthly scene of three angels preaching to the Earth. It makes a statement that combines both the past and future about the dead which die in the LORD and it concludes with another three angels executing judgment on the Earth led by Jesus Christ Himself. The study should make us appreciate our salvation even more; that we were fruits of the harvest of souls borne out of God's love and not that of His wrath. If that was all, then one would say "job done! Blood shed - it's all over!" But no; eternity still awaits all!
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Friday, August 03 2012
Last week, we saw that the beast which came from the sea derived it power from the Dragon (Satan). He carried out three major assignments; blasphemy against God, make war with the saints and all that dwell on the earth worshiped him (Those whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world). Notice that the beast operated within the limit of his given power.
Another beast is revealed to John, only this one is distinguished from the previous since he came out of the earth or land. This completes the trinity of evil?the dragon (Satan), the beast out of the sea (The anti-Christ), and now, the beast out of the earth (the devil's "unholy spirit"). The land beast operates under the authority of the sea beast) and is totally committed to promoting not himself, but the first beast. The beast out of the land is also called the false prophet in other places in Revelation (16:13; 19:20; 20:10), probably because he promotes the first beast.
1) His description, Power & Wonders [Verse 11-13]
"And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. And he exercises all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men"
And I beheld another beast." "Another" is the Greek allos meaning, "another of the same kind." He plays a different role, but in character he is another one who is beastly, rapacious, cruel, and of course hostile to God's people. And he had two horns." The horns are symbolic of great power, but not to the degree of the first beast who had ten horns. His horns were like those of "a lamb." As the lamb is a religious symbol, a symbol of sacrifice, so this beast is a religious figure and, as a lamb is also symbolical of a mild, lamb-like manner, so this second beast will adopt a mild lamb-like appearance, but he will be a wolf in sheep's clothing. He was promoting the 1st beast just like the Holy Spirit came to speak of Jesus Christ (Jhn.16:13-14). He is a counterfeit of the Holy Spirit.
Note that the signs are described as "great," the Greek megas meaning "large" but it is used of that which is great in the sense of significant, prominent, important, and outstanding. The signs the second beast performs won't be the run of the mill miracles that one hears about with pseudo healers or the paranormal events of today.
"So that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men" illustrates something of the power of his miraculous activity. Whatever this will be, it is clearly designed to counterfeit the miraculous works of God, either that of Elijah in 1 Kings 18:38 or that of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:5 (2 Kings 1:10-15; Lev. 10:1-2). Some have suggested that this could be a reference to fire from heaven to imitate that which occurred at Pentecost (Acts 2:3) and could be a reference to pseudo-charismatic gifts to create a counterfeit religious community whose allegiance is to antichrist.
2) His Deception [Verse 14-15]
"And deceives them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."
And he deceives....The next thing we saw about the signs is that they are designed to deceive, they are deceptive. "Deceives" is the Greek planaw meaning "to lead astray, cause to wander, mislead, deceive." This word is consistently used in Scripture of the work of false teachers who lead people away from God into some form of false worship ( 2 Thess. 2:9-12). Satan and his Prophets are deceivers (2 Thes. 2:3-4).
This should be a warning to all of us. Miraculous signs are not in themselves a proof that whatever is going on is from God. There are other issues that must be discerned with the Word of God as the final index and authority, never just our experience. However, we are living in an esoteric, mystic oriented age where reality is too often reduced to a personal experience or some kind of enlightenment. Just note the rise of the psychic "hotlines" and the emphasis in TV shows on the paranormal or on psychic phenomena. Even within the body of Christ, the emphasis has moved away from the Word of God as our authority to an emphasis on phenomena and subjective experiences, the kind promoted in many charismatic circles today.
The image which breathes and speaks is the second great deception of these verses. The word "image" is eikwn which is not a mere copy but in fact partakes and constitutes the very reality of the thing of which it is a likeness. The image is designed not only to portray a likeness to the beast, but the reality of his rule and worship. Whatever the image will be it will portray a likeness of the beast which becomes a symbol of his power and majesty, and of the character of his system.
3) The Significance and Meaning of the Number 666[Verse 16-18]
"And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred three score and six.
Here we see the means by which the second beast carefully and exclusively distinguishes between those who will worship the beast and those who will not so that they might be identified and killed. He forces all men of every class and category of society to receive the mark of the beast either in their right hand or in the forehead, two places that are prominent and easily seen.
Here is sheer tyranny. The word "mark" is the Greek caragma which means "an impress made by a stamp" like a brand used on slaves and cattle. Men will become the slaves of the beast and will somehow carry the identifying mark of their slavery.
To enforce the worship of the beast and to make life impossible without his worship, men cannot buy or sell without this mark. As a result of the decree to worship the beast and be branded with his mark, multitudes of believers will be killed directly because they do not have the mark and refuse to receive it or because they starve to death since they cannot buy or sell. Some will survive, however, by living off the land or because other believers who have food share with those who do not (Matt. 24:15-25 and 25:31-40).
We should note that to receive the mark of the beast is tantamount to the worship of the beast, to blasphemy of God, and rejection of Jesus Christ (13:8; 17:8; 14:9-12; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4)
In conclusion, the general character of the Tribulation is clearly portrayed in this chapter. It is a time of slavery, blasphemy, apostasy, and gross satanic activity. Let us thank God that we have the blessed hope of the rapture (Titus 2:13). But let us not, as we contemplate on all this, forget our responsibility to be involved in the propagation of the gospel of Christ, the only hope for the world.
Contributor: Alex Alajiki