In today’s Bible reading, we see the Beast. Actually, we see two Beasts. One thing that was striking as I read this was the language used of the Dragon and the Beasts. Things like:
It was allowed to exercise authority (v. 5)
It was permitted to wage war against the saints and to conquer them (v. 7)
It was also given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation (v. 7)
It was permitted to give breath to the image of the beast (v. 15)
As I stated before, instead of being distracted by the picturesque language and trying to figure out things, look at what the passage says about God. The Beasts and the Dragon are allowed and permitted to do things. They were given authority.
What this says is that they have no authority in and of themselves; it is given to them. They are passive recipients of these things.
God is the Sovereign One! He is the One in control! Never was there a contest of who would win: God or Satan. Satan is no match for the King of kings and the Lord of lords!
Another thing to note in this chapter: the Beast performs great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in front of the people. it deceives those who live on the earth because of the signs that it is permitted to perform in the presence of the beast. (vv. 13-14)
This reminds us to not be enamored by signs and wonders. Yes, they may be spectacular. Yes, they may be convincing. And yes, they may be counterfeits of the real deal. Just because someone has miraculous gifts doesn’t mean they are the real deal. Look closely at their character. Look at the content of their teachings. If their character and teachings don’t line up with God’s Word, don’t listen to them. Flee from them. And don’t look back! (Matthew 7:15–23)
In today’s Bible reading, we see two witnesses given authority to prophesy/preach against the people’s sins for a period of time. During their allotted time, they are immortal; no one can harm them. At the end of the allotted time, people martyr the witnesses and leave their bodies on the street until the witnesses are resurrected on the third day after they are killed. (Note: The word we use for “witness” is the Greek word “martyr”.)
The witnesses are called home to heaven, and an earthquake on the earth follows. FINALLY, the people are terrified and glorify God. (Revelation 11:13)
How long? How long does it take for God to get your attention? How quickly do you respond? How deeply do you respond?
“Oh, Believers will be raptured before the ‘end times’ begin so we don’t have to worry about the End Times!”
Not according to Jesus!
When Jesus showed up and began ministering two thousand years ago, the “end times” began. (Luke 11:20) In other words, we don’t have to wait for the “end times”. We’re living in it. The Kingdom of God is already here. The Kingdom of God has come, but it hasn’t been consummated. Right now, we’re living in the overlap of This Age and The Age to Come. For now, we live in the tension of “Already, but not yet”.
In other words, eternal life doesn’t begin when we cross over to the other side of eternity. Eternal life begins on this side of eternity. We can know God now! (John 17:3) We get to experience Kingdom of God life now!
Spend some time today thanking God for sending Jesus to initiate The Age to Come. Look for ways you can partner with God to usher in His Kingdom. Seek His Kingdom and His righteousness first. (Matthew 6:33)
In today’s Bible reading, John is commanded to eat the scroll held by the angel straddling the earth and sea. The angel warns John that the little scroll will taste sweet, but will upset his stomach.
God’s Word is difficult to digest but is sweet to Believers. The Psalmist says, “How sweet your word is to my taste— sweeter than honey in my mouth.” (Psalm 119:103 CSB) and “The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are reliable and altogether righteous. They are more desirable than gold— than an abundance of pure gold; and sweeter than honey dripping from a honeycomb.” (Psalm 19:9–10 CSB)
Ezekiel, too, was told to eat a scroll. (Ezekiel 3:1-3) His scroll was also sweet when he ate it. In both cases, having eaten the scroll, the men are commanded to prophesy (to speak God’s Word)
All too often, preachers prepare their sermons by studying the Bible without personally applying it to their lives. Oftentimes we will let our sermon prep be the only time we read and study the Word. It’s very easy to fall into this habit. And that is very sad.
Fortunately, most of us aren’t preachers. But how do you approach your Bible reading? How often does God’s Word come across as bitter to you? Perhaps it doesn’t sit well with how you have understood it in the past. Or perhaps it highlights something in your life that doesn’t line up with God’s character or His ways as revealed in His Word.
I would venture to say that if you aren’t confronted and convicted by God’s Word, you aren’t reading/studying it well. How does that taste? Bitter?
God has inspired His Word to teach you, but also to confront your sin and to prepare you for doing His work, regardless of whether or not you are a preacher or Bible Study teacher.
Spend some time asking God to show you something new in His Word as you read and study it. Ask Him to sanctify you with His Word, because His Word is truth. (John 17:17)
Expect to be confronted. Expected to be convicted.
In today’s Bible reading, we see more trumpets blown and more calamities sent to earth. Each is worse than the previous one. One-third of the people died. (Revelation 9:18)
And yet, those remaining two-thirds of the people do not repent.
If you’ve ever read 2 Chronicles 7:14, you’ll remember that God promises to hear from heaven, forgive sin, and heal the land if His people will simply humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their evil ways.
That’s a tremendous promise! But the promise comes in the context of a response to God bringing calamity on His people because of their wickedness. Before this verse, God promises to bless His people. But if they turn away from Him, He will bring hardship. If they respond with humble repentance, God promises to act.
In our reading, God brings calamity, but no one repents. (Revelation 9:20-21)
How incredibly sad.
Indeed, God’s promise to answer the prayers of His people, forgive their sin and bring restoration to their land is a tremendous promise.
As I type this on Tuesday Night, the US House of Representatives has handed down two Articles of Impeachment against the President of the United States. I’m not going to go into my feelings about this other than to say that the Articles — even if glaringly true — do not qualify as treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors, the only provisions in the US Constitution for impeaching the President.
The United States is in a crisis. It’s (past) time for God’s people to cry out to Him in humble repentance, to pray, to seek God’s face, and to turn from our wickedness.
Nothing short of this will restore civility to our beloved nation.
This is not a Left vs. Right political problem. This is a spiritual problem. And spiritual problems can only be remedied with spiritual solutions.
Spend a few minutes right now, asking God to bring conviction of your sin. As He reveals areas where you have sinned, confess those sins (“God, I am a sinner. I was wrong. I did ___.”) and repent (something like, “God, forgive me. Give me a renewed heart and fill me with your Holy Spirit that I might follow you.”) If God leads you to periods of extended prayer and/or fasting, don’t delay. Obey Him immediately!
Ask God to unite His people and draw us to Him. Ask God to raise up a mighty army of men and women who are committed to following God’s prescription in 2 Chronicles 7. Ask God to bring another Spiritual Awakening and revival to our country.
The big application here is to repent whenever God brings correction.
Last week, we looked at what happened when the seals were removed from the Scroll and God’s judgment began to be executed.
It was bad.
In today’s Bible reading, angels blow trumpets and more calamity is hurled at the earth. Without the context of the rest of the Bible, these actions sound cruel, both to mankind and to the rest of creation (sun, moon, etc.)
We tend to think that Adam’s choice in a garden so long ago wasn’t that big of a deal. It was just a “missing the mark” moment. A mistake.
But when taken in the context of the rest of Scripture, much more happened that day in the garden. So much more!
When taken in the context of a representative — THE representative head — of creation choosing Creation over Creator, the enormity of the offense comes to light.
When Adam bit into the forbidden fruit, he snubbed The Cosmic Benefactor.
When Adam bit into the forbidden fruit, Adam raised his middle finger at God.
And the book of Revelation records the Cosmic, cataclysmic effects of that seemingly innocuous act of satisfying a hunger. The hunger Adam was trying to satisfy was more than an empty stomach. Adam was trying to fill Adam with Adam. And Adam was created with a hunger for His Creator.
Sin is in our DNA.
Each of us inherited sin from our first father. Each of us inherited lostness. Each of us inherited alienation. Each of us inherited an inclination to tell God where He could go with His plans for an eternal relationship.
And there, but for the grace of God go all of us.
All of us.
All. Of. Us.
Praise God for His grace! Praise God for His mercy! Praise God for His patience. For His second chances. For His 8,000th chances.
If you haven’t turned from your sin and turned to Him, please do it today! Don’t wait, because once The End begins, there are no 8,000th chances.
There are no second chances. And eternity is a long time.
So turn from your sin and turn to God. Stop trusting yourself and your plans. Trust God and His plans. Come to know Him. Spend time getting to know Him better. And fall in love with Him.